Points of Interest > Severn's Brewery

Located in Rosedale Ravine east of Yonge Street and north of Davenport Road, Severn’s Brewery occupied a four story stone and brick structure. John Severn, its proprietor, emigrated to Canada from Derbyshire in 1830 and worked briefly as a blacksmith before establishing himself as a brewer in Yorkville in the mid-1830s.


Reprinted in Stephanie Hutcheson, Yorkville in pictures 1853 to 1883: the early history of Yorkville. Toronto: Toronto Public Library Board, 1978. Reproduced from the Toronto Public Library website http://www.tpl.toronto.on.ca.

By 1867 the brewery employed twelve men in manufacturing 6-7000 gallons of ale and porter each week. Dissatisfied with the local water supply from Severn Creek (also known as Castle Frank Brook), Severn apparently had water piped from Summerhill through wooden pipes. 

A restless entrepreneur, Severn travelled to California to establish another brewery in 1854, leaving his Yorkville business in the hands of his eldest son George. Returning to Canada in 1859, he sold his business to his sons George and Henry and travelled to Iowa to establish another brewery. Four years later, in 1863, he returned again to Toronto and repurchased the Yorkville business from his sons; he continued to operate the brewery until his death in 1880. Severn served as both Reeve and Councillor on the Yorkville Council; the beer barrel on the Yorkville coat of arms commemorated his years of service.

Text: Lost Rivers and Jennifer Bonnell


Hutcheson, Stephanie. Yorkville in pictures 1853 to 1883: the early history of Yorkville. Toronto Public Library Board Local History Handbooks, no.2. Toronto: Toronto Public Library Board, 1978.

Toronto Historical Association. A Glimpse of Toronto's history: Opportunities for the Commemoration of Lost Historic Sites (Toronto: Toronto Historical Association and the Maps Project, City of Toronto Urban Development Services, 2002), MPLS #226.


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