Thursday, October 27, 2016

I Could Have Been Canadian (eh?): Charles A. Ives

Charles A Ives & Mary Catherine Myers, wedding portrait, 1888
One of the interesting stories I heard at my grandmother’s knee, was about the year her father, Charles A. Ives, became inspired to be a pioneer, one more time.  He decided to investigate re-settling in a whole new country:  Canada.  Many of his children were adults by this time, and perhaps he’d heard about new opportunities, or the area around him in rural Washington was becoming “too crowded.”  Whatever the reason, he actually pursued the idea, and off he went.  One of his daughters, Margarita “Dutch” Ives, who was an older teenager at the time, spent a few months with her father in Duchess, Alberta, Canada, keeping house for him.  Moving away from her family and friends to an unfamiliar location, probably wasn’t the adventure she’d pictured for herself after finishing high school!  I also get the impression that my 15-year-old grandmother enjoyed a much greater degree of freedom with her father away, driving herself around in the family's Ford, and getting up to who knows what!  The Church of the Brethren, of which she was a member, would not have approved.

The shifting array of online digitized records shines a light on Charley’s plan.  From the record set at, called Border Crossings:  From U.S. to Canada, 1908-1935, we are lucky enough to see an actual image of Form 30, which is an individual entry form.  This has much more detail than a simple passenger list.  We learn that he entered Canada on the train at Kingsgate, on March 26, 1919.  He was a 52-year-old farmer from Centralia, Washington, born at Marshalltown, Iowa.  Although he lists his race as “Scotch,” that’s probably debatable.

Chas. A. Ives, Canadian Form 30, 1919

Charley Ives must have been resolute in his plan; he traveled with $5,000.  There is a column that asks, “if settler, value of effects.”  I’m not sure whether that meant land already purchased, livestock, equipment, or a combination, but it was worth $3175.  One of the first questions asked was, “Object in coming to Canada.”  His answer?  “To settle.”

However, Charley hadn’t planned on one thing, his wife, Mary Catherine, or “Katie” was equally resolved to stay right where she was.  They had a beautiful farm on Ford’s Prairie, in Centralia, Washington, and her circle of family and friends was close by.  As the story was told to me, this sweet, kind woman, who had six living children, had had enough.  She said, “Charley, I’ve followed you from Kansas to Pateros (Washington), from Washington to California, and from California back to Washington.  I AM NOT FOLLOWING YOU TO CANADA!”

Perhaps Charles Ives’ time in Canada wasn’t what he’d expected; most likely he decided not to test his wife.  In any case, he lived out a peaceful existence in Washington for the remainder of his life.  At the time of her death in 1952, they had been married for 64 years.  He died in 1954.