St. Andrew’s…a Little History

Presented by Barbara Draffin to the Probus Club:

Since St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church is situated in Scarborough Centre here is a little about the history of the area immediately south of Ellesmere and the area that was named Bendale early in Scarborough’s history. Today the library on Danforth Rd. and the high school on Midland Ave. are named to represent that history.

More than 200 years ago David & Mary Thomson made their way through the forest and cleared the land that we now know as St. Andrew’s Rd. on the north side of Lawrence and the east side of Brimley to create their ‘homestead’. Gradually others followed to share the land with the Indigenous people.   The McCowan family took up farming on McCowan Rd. and Kennedy Road is named for the Kennedy family.


David & Mary had a family and many descendants of these families were still farming here in the late 1950’s when Scarborough’s population increased and subdivisions were built on those farms. David & Mary Thomson Collegiate was named to commemorate this fine Scottish couple whom we claim as the first settlers in this area.


The land for Thomson Park at the corner of Lawrence and Brimley was donated by the Thomson family who still owned that land in the 1950’s.


In 1818 these settlers had firm roots in Scotland and soon planned to Worship God on a Sunday morning as they had always done ‘back home’. David and Mary donated part of their farm so that a church could be established in the area. That happened in 1818 and when you drive along St. Andrew’s Rd. today you will see banners stating “1818 to 2018 – 200 years sharing God’s love”.


The first minister of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Scarborough took up land in Markham and rode his horse from his homestead to lead in worship. He also rode his horse to Richmond Hill to establish the Presbyterian Church in that area. Both congregations are celebrating their 200th anniversary this year.


There are many events planned for the year 2017-2018 including being a part of Doors Open May 26 and 27. The original library of Scarborough is still standing on St. Andrew’s Rd. The Sextant‘s house sits on St. Andrew’s Rd. at the edge of the cemetery. The cemetery is very interesting and tours will be offered during the Doors Open weekend.


On Sunday, September 10, there was a ‘fun’ event in which the congregation pretended it was 1818 and there was no building as yet built to be a church so 250 people worshipped on the lawn. Many dressed up in old fashioned clothing. There was a pulpit made out of a tree stump. However, we did make use of a good sound system and keyboard to help with the worship. Then we had lunch on the lawn – including homemade pie.


Actually the present sanctuary only holds 200 so there are 2 services each Sunday at 9 and again at 11 am.


We are still a vibrant, welcoming congregation who enjoy worshipping together.

The McCowan Farmhouse.