John W. Givens and Margaretta Ann

John Wesley Givens was born 17 Apr. 1848 in Rosetta, Ontario. At age 24, on 20 Nov. 1872, John Wesley married Margaretta Ann Clarke.

John Wesley & Margaretta has 8 daughters:

Annie Elizabeth (1873); Mary Roberta (1875 \ died @ age 3); Lena Beatrice (1978); Mabel Marguerite (1883); Minnie Bel (1886); Hilda Alice (1887); Jennie (1890 \ died @ birth) and Irene Clark (1893).

John Wesley is listed as a blacksmith, age 21 and of the Church of Scotland in the 1871 Lanark Township Census. In Pakenham, John Wesley resided on Isabella Street. His blacksmith shop was where Ralph McKenzie’s garage now stands.

By 1876, Pakenham had a population of about 700 people. The families of John Wesley
Givens, Robert Clark & William Clarke lived in close proximity to each other.

The famous Packenham Bridge, the only 5 arch stone bridge in all of North America, was constructed in 1901 to bridge the Mississippi River in the Village of Pakenham. For the princely sum of $14,500, the bridge was built 268 feet long, 25 feet wide, and 22 feet high. Each of the 5 arches are 40 feet wide and the piers are each 8 feet thick. The largest stone in the bridge is 9 feet long, 2 ½ feet square and weighs over 5 tons.

At age 17 (1904), Hilda became pregnant. Some stories are that she was raped. In any event, the disgrace and shame of this pregnancy caused the parents to put Hilda out of the home. Hilda left never to return.

The following two pictures of John W & Margaretta were taken on Aug. 25, 1929 in Packenham. In the 2nd photo, son-in-law Bill and daughter Minnie Cardiff are the couple seated in front of John & Margaret.

About 1929, John Wesley had a stroke. He lost his memory and refused thereafter to recognize Margaretta as his wife. Marg McKinstry claims that up until that point the couple had enjoyed a good marriage.

John was taken in to live in the Havey Hill home of his daughter Irene and her husband Allan. (He lived there for about 7 years.) Margaretta was taken in to live with daughter Minnie and her husband Bill.

John Wesley died 8 Apr. 1936 in Arnprior, Ontario. He was age 88.

The following story about either John or John Wesley Givens was extracted from a chapter entitled “The Pakenham Community Hall” in the Tweedsmuir History, Book II.

“… The lot on which the Pakenham Community Hall now stands, belonged at that time [1893] to John Givens, with an $80. price tag. Mr. Belford of Arnprior demanded $200 to move the Hall on to the Given’s lot. And the Hall needed shingling at $150, and a foundation, and stairs to the gallery and chairs, and a stage and a heating system. The grand total filled the directors with dismay. The secretary plaintively reported that “Mr. Givens was very careless about selling”. The directors tried vainly to by-pass the Givens lot and get a laneway through the adjoining Halliday lot which was on the south side, and which had Fred Stevens as a tenant. They combed the country from Burnstown and Renfrew to Carleton Place in search of a lower quotation on moving the Hall. After three and a half years of frustration, they conceded defeat, and by means of a joint stock company, bought the Givens lot, and moved the Hall on to it. Due to the considerable delay in moving, the Hall had been in use for some time on the old location….”