Funeral Home Details:
Turner & Porter
4933 Dundas Street West
Etobicoke, ON M9A 1B6
*Published in the Toronto Star on Oct. 20, 2018
THE ETOBICOKE HISTORICAL SOCIETY REMEMBERS ROBERT A. GIVEN
Exploring Etobicoke’s history was an all-consuming hobby for Robert (Bob) A. Given for over 70 years. He lived in Etobicoke from 1931 to 2010. As a lad, he enjoyed using his grandfather’s old Underwood typewriter, and when the Lambton Mills Women’s Institute needed help typing their Tweedsmuir History, he volunteered. While typing, Bob became keenly interested in Sir William Howland and his flour mill on the Humber River. For him, this began a lifetime of historical research and writing about Etobicoke’s past.
While continuing a career in advertising at Eaton’s, Bob was soon meeting others with similar interests in history and he was exchanging information about Etobicoke’s history during his leisure time. He spoke to school classes and adult groups, sometimes leading them on historical walks.
In 1950, Bob was asked by Etobicoke’s council to write a book on the township’s history for its centennial. Copies of this book, The Story of Etobicoke, were distributed free to all students in the township.
Working with photographer James V. Salmon, over 200 of Bob’s history stories appeared in a column called “Etobicoke in Pictures” in the local Etobicoke Press newspaper from 1955 to 1960.
In 1958, Bob became one of the founding members of the Etobicoke Historical Society (EHS). At their inaugural meeting, he was appointed Historian, a position he held for the next 53 years. He was Editor of the EHS newsletter for 15 years, and wrote historical articles for the newsletter for, literally, decades. Bob designed the EHS crest, and his suggestion, “The Aldernews”, was chosen as the name of the newsletter. Bob has assisted hundreds of people coming to EHS for answers to their history questions by doing research or providing guidance.
Bob was one of several individuals who were instrumental in saving Montgomery’s Inn from demolition when it was bought by a developer in 1962. The developer agreed to sell the building at cost to the EHS after Etobicoke’s council refused to buy it. After EHS’s efforts failed to raise enough money, five members, including Bob Given, personally guaranteed a bank loan to cover the mortgage. Bob has continued his support of Montgomery’s Inn by being a volunteer there since it opened as a museum in 1975. Bob also served for many years on the boards of the Heritage Etobicoke Foundation and The James Shaver Woodsworth Homestead Foundation (Applewood). Bob was named to the Etobicoke Hall of Fame in 1974 and his picture still hangs outside the community council chamber in Etobicoke’s Civic Centre.
Over the years, the fire of historical curiosity continued to burn brightly in Bob and for him, researching and writing a new, expanded history book on Etobicoke was a labour of love. His book, Etobicoke Remembered, was published in 2007 and remains in print as the definitive book on Etobicoke history.
Bob and his wife, Joyce, made the Sunnylea area of Etobicoke their home for 61 years, from 1949 to 2010 when they moved to a Senior’s Residence in Mississauga. EHS appointed Bob as “Historian Emeritus” in 2010.
Bob Given’s impact on our knowledge of Etobicoke History was long and deep, and he will be very much missed!