Canonmills is derived from when King David Ist built mills for the Augustinian canons of Holyrood, hence the origin of the place name Canonmills. The area from Dundas Street to Canonmills was once a Loch fed by the Water of Leith river.

Canonmills Area Edinburgh

Circa 1750 the water in the loch receded and only covered the area now King George V Park stands with the surrounding area marsh land which was called Canon Mills Haugh. The water depth of Canonmills loch at that time was less than 6 foot and in cold winters the loch froze and curling and ice skating took place on the frozen loch. Near to where Robert Louis Stevenson was born he mentions the loch in his writings “Catriona”. The Canonmills loch was drained in 1847 and years later a philanthropist called John Cox built the Royal Gymnasium. Due to the lack of use it was closed and the ground was taken over by St Bernard’s football club in 1878. St Bernard’s were a successful team and won the Scottish Cup in 1895. Another memorable game was when 27000 spectators watch St Bernard’s beating Hibernian 1 – 0.


King George V Park


Robert Louis Stevenson 

Robert Louis Stevenson was born on the 13 November 1850 at 8 Howard Place Edinburgh near to Canonmills and the Water of Leith. The Stevenson family moved in 1857 to 17 Heriot Row Edinburgh where he lived from the age of 7 for the next 23 years the Stevenson family home.

 Robert Louis Stevenson's Birthplace Canonmills 8 Howard Place Edinburgh     Robert Louis Stevenson's Birthplace plaque Canonmills Edinburgh 

Robert Louis Stevenson’s First School

The first school Robert Louis Stevenson attended was just a few yards over the Water of Leith, in the building which is now a Baptist Church. On the south facing wall can be found  plaque that reads: 1850 -1894  In this hall Robert Louis Stevenson first went to school Circa 1857.


       Robert Lous Stevenson Primary School 1857  Robert Louis Stevenson first school house  

Canonmills Bridge

The Canonmills bridge walked over by Robert Louis Stevenson on his way to school. The bridge was built in 1840 to allow easy access across the river (Water of Leith). It was later widened to allow both pedestrians and traffic in 1896.
     Canonmills Bridge Plaque built 1840
Canonmills Bridge built 1840 widened 1896

Sir Darcy Thompson

Sir Darcy Thompson was born in Brandon Terrace Canonmills in 1860. He was attended Edinburgh Academy from 1870 to 1877   1878 he entered the University of Edinburgh as a medical student, under the guidance of marine biologist Sir Wyville Thompson Trinity College, Cambridge, where he he graduated in the natural science He published many books on the sciences and was knighted in 1937. He was a lecturer at both Dundee and St Andrews Universities a true scholar and scientist.


Lilian Alcock (Nora Lilian Scott)

Lilian Scott was born in  August 1874 and married Nathaniel Alcock in 1905 a professor of physiology at McGill University in Canada. Lilian was the first government plant pathologist appointed in Scotland. She was the pioneer of the study of seed pathology and was honoured in 1935 with and MBE. She was appointed plant pathologist in Department of Agriculture for Scotland at Royal Botanic Garden in 1924 till her retirement in 1937. The plaque can be seen on the wall of 21c Inverleith Row Edinburgh. 

Lilian Alcock

Dundas House Canonmills

 Dundas House was built in 1883 to house a printing works of Robert Clark the founder of the printing works, R & R Clark Ltd .