|Date of Birth||July 13, 1897|
|Place of Birth||Kenora, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Isaac Ovens (father), East Selkirk P.O., Manitoba|
|Trade / Calling||Farmer|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||1st Depot Battalion, Manitoba Regiment|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Conscripted|
|Place of Enlistment||Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Address at Enlistment||East Selkirk P.O., Manitoba|
|Date of Enlistment||May 10, 1918|
|Age at Enlistment||20|
|Theatre of Service||Canada|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||September 12, 1965|
|Age at Death||68|
|Buried At||Ocean View Burial Park, Burnaby, British Columbia|
Private Edward William Ovens was the son of Isaac Ovens and Katherine (Kate) Winner of East Selkirk, Manitoba. Isaac was born in Ontario to Irish parents and Kate was American and of German ancestry. Their first three children were born in Colorado: Hilyard Verl (1891), Thomas Earl (1893) and Ruby Lenore. The family moved to Canada around 1896 and spent a short time living in Rat Portage, Ontario. Edward was born in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) on 13 July 1897. When he was about a year old his family moved to East Selkirk and took up farming.
Around 1900 William Van Horne, president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, started a very large and successful experimental farm between East Selkirk and Tyndall and Kate was hired as the first cook there. Isaac invented a new sharpening device for disk plows and he applied for a patent in 1904. He and his wife had five more children, all born in Manitoba: Vina Mae (1902), Albert Clifford (1906), Ines Mildred, Roy Nelson (1910) and Ira Richard (1913). When the 1916 census was taken the family was still farming in East Selkirk and all nine children were living at home.
The war entered its second year in August 1915 and Edward’s brother Thomas Earl enlisted that winter, signing up with the 108th Battalion in Selkirk. He was struck off strength as a deserter after nine months but he moved to the U.S. and served with the American Expeditionary Forces. Conscription was introduced in Canada in the summer of 1917 and Edward was called up for service on 10 May 1918 in Winnipeg. He was assigned to the 1st Depot Battalion, Manitoba Regiment. He was 20 years old, a farmer and his address was East Selkirk. Edward likely trained at Camp Hughes in the summer and that fall he was given several weeks of harvest leave. He was discharged on 10 January 1919 in Winnipeg.
By the time the 1921 census was taken Edward’s family had moved to Winnipeg and he was living at home and working as a machinist. He was married in Winnipeg on 15 August 1922. His wife, Annie Ethel Mallory, was born in 1899 in Hastings County, Ontario to Aylmer Mallory and Emily White. Edward and Ethel had at least five children: Opal (1923), Garnet Edward (1925), Ralph, Florence Doreen and Jean. The first three were likely born in Winnipeg and the family moved Mission, British Columbia around 1927. Ethel’s father died in Mission in March 1928. A few years later Edward and his wife moved to Burnaby where they lived for about thirty years. He worked a machinist and before retiring he was employed as a caulker for BC Marine.
Edward passed away in Burnaby General Hospital on 12 September 1965, at age 68, and he’s buried at Ocean View Burial Park. His son Garnet had died in a drowning accident in 1955 and he’s also interred there. Two of Edward’s sisters lived in Vancouver and they are also buried at Ocean View: Hilyard (Mrs. Robert John Slater) (1891-1962) and Vina (Mrs. William Joseph Page) (1902-1975). His brother Roy died in New Westminster in 1966 and he’s interred at Valley View Memorial Gardens. Ira passed away in Surrey in 1972 and Albert in White Rock in 1974; both were cremated. Ruby (Mrs. Harold William Holgate) died in Winnipeg in 1965 and she’s buried at Brookside Cemetery. Thomas passed away in Winnipeg in 1987 and he’s interred at Chapel Lawn Memorial Gardens. Their mother Kate Ovens died in 1936 and she’s buried in St. Clements Anglican Church Cemetery near Selkirk, Manitoba.
By Becky Johnson
Grave marker photos courtesy of Mike Melen.