Scarborough Historical Museum & Memorial Park



To discover more about the Scarborough Historical Museum you have to start back in 1796, when a Scotsman named David Thomson settled in Upper Canada and became the first permanent resident in Scarborough.  He was granted 400 acres and along with his brother, Andrew had built a log cabin on his property.   

Not long after other settlers joined them including David's brother Archibald.  As they were stone masons, they made their living by working on the first Parliament buildings in York (Toronto).  

A few years later a road had connected their settlement to York and a sawmill was built by each one of the brothers, David, Andrew and Archibald.  A Presbyterian church, built 20 years later became the core of the prospering Thomson Settlement.

The pale looking house (Cornell House) was inhabited for over 80 years by descendents of Wm. Cornell who came here from Rhode Island in 1799.  This home was considered a middle-class home, with spacious upper and lower floors equipped with pot-bellied stove, pantry, cold storage, eating area and living area.  The upper floor was for sleeping, which kept the family closely together, including infants sleeping in the same room as the mother.  This tradition has since changed :)

It was quite cold outside, and very unexpected that the museum was opened on this day, so you can imagine our surprise to peer into the window to see a face appear waving us in.  Upon opening the front doorway, we were greeted and given hot tea and home made oatmeal cookies! There was one other person who was equally happy to join in for some afternoon tea.  The ladies were dressed in the attire of the time, long cotton dress, with aprons and bonnets.

One of the volunteers had offered to show us inside the McCowan Log Cabin, which was locked upThe McCowan Log cabin was built in 1830 and was occupied by William McCowan from 1848 until his death in 1902. (1820-1902).    William came to Canada in 1833 with his parents and 4 brothers and 4 sisters where they settled near the Scarborough Bluffs near McCowan road.  

A year after emigrating to Canada, in one night, Williams' father and brother had died of cholera, after which William took care of his mother and brothers and sisters and remained a bachelor for the rest of his life.  

His nephew James McCowan took over after William passed on.  This cabin, although appearing quite small on the inside, could apparently house up to 10 people at one time and was considered quite large in its time.  The cabin was restored and carefully moved by the historical society to the Thomson Settlement in 1974.

The entire Thomson Settlement occupies a portion of the 'Thomson Memorial Park' at the corner of Brimley Road and Lawrence in Scarborough.