James McGiven was born December 13, 1900, (according to family records) although he gave his year of birth as 1898 on his attestation papers. He was born at Broxburn, Scotland, the son of George and Georgina (McGregor) McGiven. He had a sister Agnes, born 1898, a sister Ross, born in 1901 and a brother George Jr. born in 1906. Two other children, Alex and Robert, died in infancy. The family came to Revelstoke in the fall of 1912. George Sr. was a carpenter and worked for the CPR as a foreman on the bridge and building gang. The McGiven family lived on Boyle Avenue near the Police Station, the corner of Boyle Avenue and Fourth Street West. James was employed by the CPR according to newspaper reports but listed Teamster on his attestation papers. In August 1915 James volunteered for bridge guard duty.
James’ sister Ross died suddenly on November 28, 1914, at the age of 13, most likely of a brain aneurysm. Agnes McGiven was very involved in the High School Girls Patriotic Society, and other patriotic societies in town. Mrs. McGiven was involved with the Red Cross and Hospital Societies. George attended Central School. In January of 1918 there was a fire at the McGiven home and the family then moved to 714 First Street West.
James McGiven signed his enlistment papers on January 8, 1917 at Revelstoke. He was either 16 or 18 years old, single, 5’ 11” tall with fair hair and brown eyes. His religious affiliation was Presbyterian. He had enlisted with the 231st Highlanders. He left Halifax on April 10, 1917, arriving in Liverpool on April 22.
James McGiven died on October 30, 1917 during the opening assault of the battle of Passchendaele. He was either 16 or 18 years old. At the time of his death he was a Private with the 72nd Battalion, Canadian Infantry (British Columbia) Regiment. His body was never found or identified and his name is memorialized on the Menin Gate (Ypres) Memorial.
His name is also inscribed on the Courthouse and Cenotaph plaques.
James McGiven still has famly members living in Revelstoke.