John Severn

Triangle 9
Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto

Born in Derbyshire, England in 1807, young John Severn arrived in Upper Canada in 1830 and settled in the town of York (Toronto) where he continued to practice his trade as a blacksmith. A few years went by and Severn decided to move out of the little community of 9,000 souls and venture up Yonge Street to the community known as Yorkville. Here he built for himself a small smithy. Then in 1832, Severn got into the brewing business and purchased the defunct brewery of a local resident, John Baxter. Severn enlarged the structure on several occasions and operated a very successful business until his death in 1880.
   In addition to being a brewmaster, Severn was active politically, being elected one of the newly created village of Yorkville’s first four councillors in 1853. The initial “S” and a keg of beer can still be seen on the original Yorkville coat of arms now affixed to the front of the firehall on Yorkville Avenue. Severn was re-elected councillor in 1859 and held the position through to 1863 and again in 1867. From 1868 until 1877 he served as reeve of Yorkville. John Severn died on February 8, 1880. Also interred in the Severn plot are John's three wives, Jane (d. 1842), Aureta (d. 1868), and Jane Wilson (d. 1874). It is said that the six pillars that form part of the monument represent Severn, his three wives, and his two children, all of whom predeceased him. Deterioration of the monument has almost obliterated the following words:

A native of Derbyshire, England. Arriving in Toronto in 1830 he soon afterwards made Yorkville his abode taking an active part in all that concerned its welfare.
Of great energy and strong will mingled with kindness his influence was felt in his public and private life in both of which while often befriending others, he forgot his own health and comfort ’till suffering under complications of maladies he died on the 8th Feb. 1880 in his 75th year.
In the hope of a glorious resurrection.

Mike Filey
Mount Pleasant Cemetery: An Illustrated Guide
Second Edition Revised and Expanded

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