William “Bill” Ivens
Cleric, editor, chiropractor, MLA (1921-1922), MLA (1923-1927), MLA (1927-1932), MLA (1933-1936).
Born at Barford, Warwickshire, England on 28 June 1878, he came to Canada in 1896. Originally he worked as a market gardener, but he attended the University of Manitoba as a Methodist ministerial candidate and became Methodist minister at McDougall Church. An active social gospeller, Ivens broke with the church over his pacifism during the First World War and was expelled from the ministry for his refusal to accept church authority. He thereupon founded the Labour Church and in 1918 became Editor of the labour newspaper, the Western Labour News.
During the Winnipeg General Strike he edited the daily strike bulletin, and he was arrested on 17 June by the federal authorities. His address to the jury in his trial lasted 14 hours. He was found guilty of seditious conspiracy by a jury on 28 March 1920 and sentenced to one year in prison. Before his trial, he had been charged with contempt of court for statements he had made regarding the trial of R. B. Russell.
On 7 July 1908, he married Louisa Davis (1881-1939) at Sidney and they had a son, Milton Herbert Ivens (1910-c1980, husband of Eileen May Brooks). Ivens took a correspondence course with an American chiropractic college and set up a successful practice in 1925. He was active in the Anti-Vaccination League. Ivens was elected to the Manitoba Legislature in 1920 and re-elected in 1922, 1927, and 1932. He was defeated in the 1936 and 1941 provincial elections and never held public office again.
He died at Chula Vista, California on 20 June 1957 and was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery.
Historic Sites of Manitoba: Ivens House (309 Inkster Boulevard, Winnipeg)
“‘To Each According to His Need, and from Each according to his Ability. Why cannot the world see this?’: The Politics of William Ivens, 1916-1936” by Michael Butt (MA thesis, University of Winnipeg, 1993).
Profiles in Dissent: The Shaping of Radical Thought in the Canadian West by Harry Gutkin and Mildred Gutkin (1997), pages 51-92.
Birth, marriage, and death registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
“Engagements,” Winnipeg Free Press, 16 July 1938, page 7.
“Mrs. Wm. Ivens dies aged 58,” Winnipeg Tribune, 2 November 1939, page 4.
“Memorial service,” Winnipeg Free Press, 11 July 1957, page 13.
“The Legislature remembers them,” Winnipeg Free Press, 13 February 1958, page 35.
Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 15 April 2021
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