The up-to-date version of this post will be maintained at http://genweblog.blogspot.com/2006/07/cowans-in-wellington-county-historical.html
James Cowan Sr. in Biographical Sketches of Early Settlers of Wellington County, Ontario, Canada (Historical Atlas of the County of Wellington, Ontario. Toronto: Historical Atlas Publishing Co., 1906): http://www.rootsweb.com/~onwellin/pioneers/cowan_james_sr.htm
James was born in Selkirk, Scotland in 1790. He married Margaret NICHOL (d. 1883 age 92), and came to Galt in 1829, and died there in 1867. James' son Thomas lived on the Galt homestead of 235 acres. The oldest son James Jr. was b. Selkirk SCT in 1825, and lived in Guelph on the West End Road. He m. Jane BEATTY (d. 1888 age 59).
William Cowan (my gggrandfather): http://www.rootsweb.com/~onwellin/pioneers/cowan_walter.htm
William b. "Yarrow Fews, (sic)" Selkirkshire, Scotland, came to Canada in 1831. He was a weaver in Scotland. He took up a farm about one mile outside of Galt which he cleared and where he died. He was a Presbyterian and a Conservative. He m. (1) Jennie SCOTT, of the Scotts of Harden, and after Jennie's death, Agnes WILLISON (in Selkirk). With Jennie SCOTT: James (1809 Yarrow Feus - 1893, m. Ann MATHESON, of North Dumfries), *Walter (d.), Puslinch Tp. With Agnes WILLISON: William (d, 1905), on the homestead, and Jane (d. unmarried).
James was b. at "Yarrow Fews,"[sic] Selkirkshire, Scot., 1809; d. 1893. He was a weaver by trade, and was friend and crony of Hogg, the "Ettrick Shepherd." He was 21 years old when he came to Canada by way of Quebec and worked with his father in the bush until he m., when he started to work for Hon. Wm. Dickson in Galt, who owned all of the townships of North and South Dumfries (12 miles square). After working for Mr. Dickson about five years he purchased a farm about 2 1/2 miles from Galt, on Roseville road, con. 12, N.D., where he lived until his death. He was a Presbyterian and a Reformer. He m. Ann Matheson, of North Dumfries. Issue: Walter Scott; Alexander (d. 11); James (d. Minto Tp); Dr. William (d.), who was a physician for 30 years in Guelph; Alexander, on the homestead in North Dumfries; Isabella, m. William Marshall, set. Clifford; Jean (d.), m. R. R. Dalgleish, dentist in Winnipeg; Agnes, m. Geo. McEwen, engineer, Raymond factory, Guelph, and Annie, unm. on the homestead.
Walter Scott, b. 1834, in Galt, learned the carpenters' trade there. In 1858 he came to the Paisley Block in Guelph, where he had a carpenter's shop on lot 8, con. 11, Div. B., and worked there until 1875, when he moved to Guelph to give his family a better chance. He is a Congregationalist and a Reformer, and was License Inspector in the South Riding of Wellington 18 years, until 1904. He m. Margaret, (d.), May, 1906, dau. of the late James Watson, of Guelph. Issue: James, dentist, in Genneseo, N.Y.; Walter, dentist; Davey, in Regina, Sask.; William A., at home; Margaret, m. John McDonald, Chicago; Janie, m. C. A. Richardson, Toledo, and Annabel, at home. Of these William A. carries on the carpenter's business which his father established on the London road, when he came to Guelph in 1875.
The information about Walter Scott Cowan seems completely wrong. I think I have it -- this is Walter Scott Cowan the son of James, eldest son of the immigrant William. Too bad they just ignored MY Walter Scott Cowan.
Also - Donald "Dhu" McPHERSON (b. 1784 Badenoch, Inverness-shire, Scotland, d. 1881) and family. Donald was grandfather to Annie McPherson, wife to Walter Scott COWAN II. Annie's father was Alexander, 1822 - 1890, came to Canada in 1838 at the age of 16, with his father. Alexander McPherson m. Jane, dau. of "White" Duncan McPherson, drover, Kingussie, Scotland, according to this account. I have Annie's mother as Margaret McPHAIL: http://www.rootsweb.com/~onwellin/pioneers/mcpherson_donald2.htm
There is also an entry for William Cowan of Roxburgh (b. 1819), but I don't know the relationship: http://www.rootsweb.com/~onwellin/pioneers/cowan_william_scot.htm
Another William Cowan, b. Co. Armagh, Ireland, 1825: http://www.rootsweb.com/~onwellin/pioneers/cowan_william_ire.htm
Relationship distant if there is one.
Thanks to Our Pioneering Families: Biographical Sketches of Early Settlers of Wellington County: http://www.rootsweb.com/~onwellin/pioneers/1pioneers.htm
The maps are here: http://digital.library.mcgill.ca/CountyAtlas/
Please see FOUR COWAN FAMILIES by Jennie F. Cowan: http://genweblog.blogspot.com/2006/07/four-cowan-families-by-jennie-f-cowan.html for comparison.
Human felicity is produced not so much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen, as by little advantages that occur every day. - Benjamin Franklin, 1706-1790