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 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.
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.