Who was the mystery Hermit?

In the Canadian Sunday Mercury, probably dated around 1982, there appeared an article about one Edward William Ivens, a renowned hermit who lived in a log cabin as a recluse on Grouse Mountain, Vancouver, who had died leaving £15,000 but no known relatives.

The paper had traced his heritage back to Butlers Marston, Warwickshire. Their research efforts, including the services of an English genealogist, revealed that his mother was probably Keziah Maria Ivens. Later, the paper also determined that his probable father was a Walter William Ivens. Both Walter and Keziah died at the Hatton Lunatic Asylum in 1912 and 1915 respectively.

It seems that Edward William (born in 1894)  arrived in Quebec, at the age of 14, on his way to a Canadian Orphanage. He worked as a labourer, including one spell for the Hudson Bay Company, and when he retired, he built himself the log cabin.

He died aged 87 of gangrene after refusing treatment, and it was then that his £15,000 was discovered, which he had kept in his mattress until some local friends persuaded him to bank it. The Canadian public trustees say they would keep the money for ten years and it will revert to the crown if it is not claimed by then.

With benefit of an extensive database on the Ivens family, I can add a little more to this extraordinary story….

Keziah Maria Ivens and Walter William Ivens, both of Butlers Marston, Warwickshire, and later the Hatton Lunatic Asylum, were infact brother and sister, children of Edward and Prudence Ivens. There are full census records from 1871 – 1911 for Keziah, and from 1881 for Walter William.

The difficulty is that there seems to be no record of Edward William Ivens – certainly not in the 1901 census as might be expected. Of course, if his parents were indeed siblings, the resulting child might well have been kept secret from the authorities (the census), and it might well have been the reason the pair were taken into the asylum, and the son despatched to the colonies.

The search for Edward William will continue ………


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