John Collens The Descendants of John Chance and Eliza Bennett
Stephen Nobbs Collens
Mary Ward
Medal for serving in the Fenian Raids of 1866  (97 KB)
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John Collens


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Anna Maria (Hannah) Chance

John Collens

  • Born: 9 Jan 1833, , Norfolk, England 2
  • Marriage: Anna Maria (Hannah) Chance 23 Jan 1868, Woodstock, Oxford Co., Ontario, Canada 1
  • Died: 25 Mar 1915, Hamilton, Wentworth Co., Ontario at age 82 3
  • Buried: 27 Mar 1915, Anglican Cemetery, Woodstock, Oxford Co., Ontario 4

bullet  The Story:

John served in the Fenian Raids in 1866. He lived in Hamilton, Ontario for the last 6 years of his life. At one time he, his wife and children lived near Putnam, Middlesex, Ontario and on Lot 5 Concession 4 West Oxford Township, Oxford Co. He came with his parents to Canada in 1836 at the age of 3. He and his wife were members of the Wesleyan Methodist church.

John inherited a large sum of money from his father who ran the Collen's Brewery which was at the corner of Norwich Avenue and Dundas Street in Woodstock, Ontario.

The story goes that John and his family spent the money very quickly and unwisely. They bought a large house in the south end of Woodstock. Belle Robertson Gable told of how the sons would hang chickens in the shed and instead of plucking and dressing them, they would just cut off the skin and hack off the flesh they wanted and left a good deal of the meat useless.

Hannah John's wife took the last of the inheritance and bought a small house in the Teeple Street area where they lived after losing the large house.

"Mr Larry Collens, the great grandson of the first proprietor, Stephen Collens (the correct spelling) sent us interesting extra details:

"Stephen Collens (1801-1878) moved from England to Hamilton, Ont, in 1836, where he worked in a brewery for a few years. He decided he wanted his own brewery, so after borrowing money from his employer, he moved to Woodstock, Ont. and built a brewery on the corner of Dundas St and Norwich Ave.

The building was made of white brick and his name was built into the Norwich side of the building in red brick. After Stephen's death, the brewery was run by his sons who later sold the business to a Mr P. Bernhart who in turn sold it to a Mr Otterbein, who converted part of the building into a foundry - hence burned the building down. End of brewery. Stephen Collens was my great grandfather."

Source: Larry Collens, grandson of the original brewery's founder. "


From Woodstock Sentinel Review Newspaper - 26 March 1915

The body of the late John Collins who died in Hamilton on Thursday is expected to arrive in Woodstock on Friday evening and the funeral will take place from the residence of his son-in-law B. J. Brown. John Street on Saturday afternoon at 2 o'clock. The late Mr. Collins was eighty-two years of age and resided in Woodstock for a number of years, being a residence of the east end of the city. During his residence here he was well and favourable known and a large circle of local friends learned of his death with regret. The late Mr. Collins was a veteran of the Fenian Raid having served in 1866. A widow, six sons and three daughters survive. They are: William, Edgar, Charles, Oscar, George and Percy. Mrs. B. J. Brown of Woodstock, Mrs. H. R. Collens and Miss Edna of Hamilton. Deceased had resided in Hamilton for 6 years. He was a native of England.


John married Anna Maria (Hannah) Chance, daughter of Coporal John Chance and Elizabeth (Eliza) Bennett, on 23 Jan 1868 in Woodstock, Oxford Co., Ontario, Canada.1 (Anna Maria (Hannah) Chance was born on 23 Mar 1851 in Burford Township, Brant Co., Ontario,5 died on 27 Oct 1925 in Woodstock, Oxford Co., Ontario, Canada 6 and was buried on 30 Oct 1925 in Anglican Cemetery, Woodstock, Oxford Co., Ontario 4.)



1 Vital Records - Ontario, Oxford Co. - Marriage Register 1858-1869.

2 Thelma Collens, Collens, Thelma: Correspondence.

3 Newspaper - Ontario, Oxford, Woodstock - Sentinel Review, 26 March 1915.

4 Cemetery - Ontario, Oxford Co., Woodstock - Anglican.

5 Chance, Julia May - personal records.

6 Newspaper - Ontario, Oxford, Woodstock - Sentinel Review, 28 Dec 1925.

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