1856 – the first school was established in a rented one-room schoolhouse. Public Schools in Ontario were made free to all pupils, girls included, in 1853.
1856 – suitable land was purchased in the “Fall of 1856, a site, at the cost of 350 pounds, was acquired on the Givin’s Estate, near the Asylum, so as to meet the requirements of the inhabitants of the extreme western portion of the City, for whose benefit an auxiliary school was established early in the 1856, and which has continued to be a successful experiment.” It was the third school to be built in the City of York.
1859 – the new school, named the Western Auxiliary School, was built — a two-room structure with both Male and Female departments. Each room could hold a capacity of 8- 90 students. The total cost to construct and furnish the school was $2,251.77. Contractors J.W Mason and W.A. Lee are credited with its construction.
The new teachers were Mrs. Jane O’Flaherty for the girls and Mr. James Anderson for the boys. Their annual salary amounted to $320 and $520 respectively. By 1858, there were 110 students enrolled.
1860 – The name of the school was changed to Givins School in honour of Colonel James Givins. Givins’ closest neighbour was Major-General Aenas Shaw; hence, the street and, later, the school name.
1876 – a brand new 2-story brick school was built on Argyle St. Total cost: $7,559.
1914 – a new school facing Shaw St. was built. It incorporated aspects of the old school and became known as the Shaw Junior School. Total cost to build: $162, 716.
It was used until 1918 as the barracks and headquarters of the 123rd and 208th battalions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force and the Royal Air Force.
1957 – the current Givins/Shaw Street School was built. A new senior division was built on Givens St. This became the fifth school on the site.
1966 – the school is divided into two schools: Shaw Street Junior School and Givins Senior School.
Colonel James Givins
James Givins was born in 1759 and came to Canada as a young man. While employed with the North-West Company as a fur trader, he became fluent in many native languages which later led to the appointment of chief superintendent of Indian Affairs. Givins settled in York in 1798 after obtaining a commission in the British Army.
In 1802, he bought 100 acres of land, which stretched north from the waterfront beyond Halton St., with Shaw St. as its eastern boundary. What is now Givins St. was the road which lead to his home, Pine Grove. Givins and his wife raised six sons and three daughters.
Givins was a member of Governor Simcoe’s Queen’s Rangers. During the War of 1812, Colonel Givin’s distinguished himself. As a sign of appreciation, the Crown awarded to each of his nine children, a grant of six hundred acres of crown land.
Major-General Aenas Shaw
Aenas Shaw immigrated to America in the 1700s. He fought for Britain during the American Revolution as a captain in the Queen’s Rangers. As a Loyalist, he settled in New Brunswick and, later, moved to Ontario. For his services, the Crown granted Shaw 500 acres, stretching north from Lake Ontario, including the area now known as Trinity/Bellwoods Park.
Oak Hill was the first frame house in York. Rumour has it that Aenas was not on the best of terms with his closest neighbour, James Givins, and that the inordinate width of Shaw St. was to provide a degree of isolation from each other.