Scarborough Museum is set along the walking trails of beautiful Thomson Memorial Park, once the farm fields of Scarborough’s first settlers and now a popular heritage community. The museum shows the history and development of Scarborough from its founding and early settlement to its growth and emergence as a major suburb in the 20th century. The site and its gardens are situated on property first granted to David and Mary Thomson, who settled in Scarborough in the late 1790s.
Scarborough Museum consists of four buildings that were moved to the site between 1962 to 1974. These include: Cornell House, a clapboard, Scarborough vernacular-style farmhouse; the McCowan Log House, restored to its 1850s appearance; Kennedy Gallery, a small former farm outbuilding; and the Hough Carriage Works, which houses a collection of artisans tools donated by the Hough family who operated the original shop at Hough’s Corners.
Scarborough Museum offers visitors an opportunity to connect to the past through youth programming, camps, school trips, exhibits and special events.
Regular admission is free. Special events may have different prices.
From 401 eastbound: Take the Brimley Road S. exit. Continue southbound on Brimley Road to Thomson Memorial Park and turn left into the parking lot.
From 401 westbound: Take the McCowan Road S. exit. Turn right on Ellesemere Road and then left on Brimley Road. Follow Brimely Road south to Thomson Memorial Park and turn left into the parking lot.
Take the Brimley # 21 bus from Kennedy Subway Station. The bus stops outside the park entrance. For specific TTC route and schedule information call 416-393-4636 (INFO) or visit the TTC website.
As part of the Scarborough Museum, the Cornell House offers a look at rural village life circa 1914 and is furnished to depict that time period. The Cornell House was constructed in 1858 and was originally home to Charles Cornell, his wife Matilda and their eight children. Charles father, William Cornell, came to Scarborough from Rhode Island in 1799. William Cornell built the township’s first sawmill at Highland Creek and along with Levi Annis, cut the ‘Front’ road along the lake in the early 1800s. Known as the ‘Cornwell Road’, it was improved and straightened in 1817 and renamed Kingston Road. Charles’ youngest daughter, Matilda inherited the house in 1887, and lived there with her mother and older brother Fred who operated a small orchard and market garden.
The McCowan Log House has been restored and furnished to portray the life of local settlers in the 1850s, and was constructed in the 1830s. The house was owned by William P. McCowan (Willie) who was born in 1820 in East Auchanbeg, Lesmahagow Parish, Lanarkshire, Scotland. In 1833, Willie emigrated to Scarborough from Scotland with his parents and siblings, and in 1848 he purchased 100 acres, the north half of Lot 13, Concession 4 which included the log house. The log house was located on the banks of Wilcot Creek in the northern part of the Malvern area in Scarborough. The building had additions and renovations made over the years and was moved to the Thornbeck property on Littles Road in 1948. In 1974 the building was moved once more to the Scarborough Museum.
The Hough Carriage Works collection displays carriage making equipment and artisans’ tools that demonstrate the importance of transportation in the rural community. Henry Hough operated a carriage building and blacksmith shop at the southwest corner of what is now Eglinton Avenue East and Birchmount Road on land patented by his father Joseph in 1846. The shop began operating about 1856 and in the 1861 census Henry is listed as a wheelwright. The carriage making shop was a two storey wood frame building with wooden runways outside to bring the completed carriages down from the second floor. On the first floor the wagon parts were built and assembled while on the second floor, the paint and finishing touches were applied.