Mr George Cowie, the first Provost of Dufftown, was born at Boyne in the parish of Boyndie. He served his apprenticeship in Banff as a land sur­veyor and engineer, and afterwards was an assistant of the late Mr George McWilliam, Sheriffstown, Elgin. The period was one of great activity in rail­way construction all over Scotland, and Mr McWil­liam and his staff performed important work in the surveying of new lines projected in the County of Banff. The chief engineer of the projected schemes was Mr Grainger, of Edinburgh and Leeds, who was so struck with the ability shown by the young engineer that he offered Mr Cowie an appointment on his permanent staff in the South.

This Mr Cowie accepted, and for a number of years he found arduous but pleasant employment in the prosecution of large engineering enterprises in Scotland and England. In 1853 Mr Cowie was offered a partnership by Mr John Gordon in the Mortlach Distillery, which was established in 1823, and which for a number of years had been carried on with energy and success by Mr Gordon. Mr Cowie accepted the offer, and his interests have since been closely identified with the progress of Duff­town. Mr Gordon died in 1867, and since that date Mr Cowie has been sole proprietor of an establishment whose produce occupies a prominent position in the world’s markets.

When the Act was adopted in Dufftown in 1863, the late Mr Petrie, bank agent, and farmer at Glencorrie, was appointed chief magistrate of the burgh, and Mr Cowie was appointed Junior Magis­trate. These gentlemen occupied these respective positions till Mr Petrie’s death in December 1887. Mr Cowie was then appointed chief magistrate, so that for thirty years he has been continuously a member of the Police Commission, for six years of which he has acted as their chairman. One of the most important works performed by the Commissioners has been the introduction of an excellent supply of water. When a supply was first introduced, the reservoir was considered sufficient to hold a three days’ supply, but the steady progress of the town soon made it necessary to introduce an additional supply, involving the construction of a reservoir estimated to hold about a hundred thousand gallons. The turning on of the new supply made the occasion of a very pleasing ceremony.

An esteemed son of Dufftown, a Railway King of Canada, had just been elevated to the peerage, and on the first visit to Dufftown, thereafter, of Lord and Lady Mount Stephen, who were the guests of Provost Cowie, her ladyship turned on the supply. The Commissioners have, throughout their tenure of office, paid particular attention to the sanitation of the town. Under the Act they were entrusted with powers somewhat arbitrary in their nature, but in their administration of these powers, there has ever been an absence of harshness. They set cautiously to work; they sought to educate the constituency to the benefits fitted to be conferred by a general appearance of cleanliness in the town, until now it may be quoted as quite a model in this respect. The superior of the burgh, the Earl of Fife, put in the main drains through the town, which was of great encouragement to the Commissioners. In the furtherance of all these schemes, and others for the improvement of the amenities of the burgh, Provost Cowie has given hearty assistance. The great value of his judicious efforts for the welfare of the town is admitted by all.

Provost Cowie has been a member of the School Board of Mortlach since the passing of the Education Act in 1872, and for some time was Chairman of the Board. He has for long been an efficient mem­ber of the Parochial Board, and he is Chairman of the Directors of the Stephen Cottage Hospital, the munificent gift of his friend, Lord Mount Stephen, to the parishes of Mortlach and Glenrinnes. In 1888 Mr Cowie handed over a cheque for five hundred pounds for the provision of an organ for the Parish Church of Mortlach. This act of munificence is an illustration of Mr Cowie’s efforts for the welfare of a community over which he presided as their first Provost.