Posts Tagged ‘Catherine Tammaro’

East of Brimley and north of Lawrence is a large park, Thomson Memorial Park.
I have mentioned the Thomson family’s role in the history of Scarborough in a blog post about St. Andrews Bendale cemetery where many of the Thomsons are buried.  St. Andrews is adjacent to this park and is on land donated by David Thomson.

In this blog post I wanted to look at a corner of the park – the southwest corner is home to the Scarborough Museum and it’s small collection of old buildings.

below: The McCowan log house is one of the houses.

log cabin home

Scarborough Historical Society plaque for McCowan log house, built 1830, now located in Thomson Memorial Park

The McCowan Log House
This cabin was built about 1830 in the northeast part of Scarborough and was moved to its present site by the Scarborough Historical Society in 1974. From 1848 until his death, it was occupied by William Porteous McCowan (1820-1902) who had come to Canada in 1833 with his parents, Margaret Porteous and James McCowan, a coalmaster of Leshmahagow Parish Scotland. The McCowan family, including four sons and four daughters, settled near the Scarborough Bluffs east of the present McCowan Road.
“Uncle Willie” McCowan narrowly escaped death by cholera which claimed his father and brother the same night in 1834. A bachelor, “Uncle Willie” was succeeded as owner by his nephew James McCowan.

below: There is another plaque nearby, this one for Rhoda Skinner who you have probably not heard of.  She had a lot of children!

historic plaque honoring rhoda skinner

This plaque is dedicated to the women who pioneered the wilderness of Ontario in the early 19th century and, in particular, to Rhoda Skinner (1775-1834).
In addition to laborious household chores, assisting with the farming, and coping with fears and challenges unheard of today, they were often called upon to raise huge families. Rhoda was the mother to 37 children by two husbands. Her children and their years of birth are as follows: [names & birth years of the children are then given]

Let’s take a closer look at Rhoda:

First, Rhoda married Parshall Terry (1754-1808) whose wife Amy Stevens died in 1792. Parshall was 20 years her senior and already had 7 children, 3 boys and 4 girls. Or at least, I assume that a child with the name Submission is a girl, sadly. The oldest, Parshall Jr. was born in 1777; he was only two years younger than Rhoda would have been 15 when his mother died.

Rhoda’s first child was Simcoe born in 1794 when she was 19. Her oldest step-daughters, Mary and Martha, would have been 14 and 11 – instant babysitters and helpers. IF they had survived. Considering the higher infant mortality rate of the time it is possible that some of these offspring didn’t make it to adulthood.

Rhoda went on to have 12 children with the youngest, Eliza, being born after her father died. 12 children in 16 years. Parshall Terry drowned in the Don River in 1808. At the time he and Rhoda’s brothers, Isaiah and Aaron Skinner, had a sawmill and a grist mill at Todmorden Mills. Terry was also a member of the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada.

Rhoda must have married William Cornell (1766-1860) shortly after because Rhoda and William had a son, Edward, in 1810. William Cornell was a widower with 12 children already. He and Rhoda had 5 more children after Edward. In the end, Rhoda gave birth to 18 children, the last one in 1821 when she was in her forties and when her eldest, Simcoe, would have been 27.

Rhoda died in 1834 and is buried in St Margarets in the Pines cemetery in Toronto (at Lawrence near Morningside) as Rhoda Terry Cornell. Her second husband is buried there too – written on his stone is “A native of Rhode Island U.S. and settled in Scarborough in A.D. 1800 being the second settler in the Township”.

below: The Cornell House. It was built by Charles Cornell and his wife Matilda. Charles was the son of William Cornell & Rhoda Skinner.

white frame house

below: ‘GrandMother Moon (and the Equinox Wave), 2019’ by Catherine Tammaro, Spotted Turtle Clan (photo taken in 2020).

a picture on an exterior wall

below: Thomson Memorial Park.  One of the many attractions of the park is the fact that it is the western end of The Meadoway – a project to turn a hydro corridor into green space with bike paths and walking trails.  (but that’s another  – blog post! – see link!)

large trees in autumn, lots of yellow and gold leaves on the trees and on the ground