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January 25, 2007

The  Wagners


Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Gerry and Ivy Wagner. Their life story is intimately connected with the story of Creighton Mine.

Ivy Hodgins was born in Shawville, Quebec in 1924. At age 5 her family moved to Creighton Mine, thus in 1929.  There were 7 children in the family, two boys and five girls, namely; Steward, Ivy, Forest, Louella Mae, Mervina, Lorna, Norma  (Connie Larsson’s mother). Louella Mae only lived about six months, as she was a “blue baby”.  Their father, Heman Hodgins, was the INCO blacksmith as well as the town blacksmith for many years.  He worked at INCO and in his own shop on weekends and in the evenings.

Gerry Wagner was born in Pembroke also in 1924.  There were six children in his family and Gerry was the second youngest in the family of one girl and five boys. He was 16 when he arrived in Creighton by himself.  Gerry stayed at Smith’s Boarding house on George Street.

Gerry and Ivy met at Alemany’s Bowling Alley, which was located below the restaurant. This was in 1942 before the Inco Club was built.  Benny Elemond introduced Ivy to Gerry. Gerry told me that he had been admiring her almost from the day he arrived in the town of Creighton Mine. They began to date and consequently were married on June 6, 1944. They were both aged 19.  It was pouring rain that day but that could not dampen the spirits of this young couple so much in love.  The minister who presided in the Creighton United Church was Reverend Baines from Copper Cliff.   Ivy wore a lovely long white gown and veil.  Her bridesmaids were Audrey Simpson (Maid of Honour), Midge Behenna, and Georgina Johnson. Gerry was attended by his brother Leonard Wagner (Best Man), and Steward and Forest Hodgins, both of whom were Ivy’s brothers.

Their first home was in Sudbury in an apartment above the A & P Store on Elm Street where the honeymoon couple slept on a davenport.  Gerry told me of an event that occurred early in their marriage.  Ivy cooked a roast of veal – excellent and expensive meat and something they were really looking forward to having for supper. Gerry and Ivy were listening to the radio from Nashville, Tennessee, when they both fell asleep only to be awakened by the siren of the fire truck.  Where was it going they wondered, when they suddenly realized the fire was in their kitchen.  Sure enough the roast was burned black beyond recognition!

The Wagners then moved to Levack, and two more addresses in Sudbury, then to Cinottiville before returning to Creighton Mine in 1957 on Albert Street.  It was  Good Friday as Gerry remembered.  Two daughters had been born in the meantime. Their first-born, Wendy, unfortunately was stillborn in 1948. Gerry told me that her funeral cost $250.  In 1950, Bonnie was born, lovely and healthy giving them much joy!  Their third daughter, Kathy, was born in 1961 and now the family was complete.

Gerry served in the Canadian Army from 1943 – 1946.  Ivy worked at Kresge’s and at Woolworth’s during this time. After the war he became a diamond driller working both in Worthington and Creighton.  There was an open space between the bank and the barbershop in Creighton where Gerry was instructed to drill. This work was supposed to be done in three shifts.  However because it was too noisy for the nearby residents, complaints of not being able to sleep were soon heard.  The job then reverted to two shifts – days and afternoons.  This suited Gerry much better.  He revealed to me that he did not ever want to work the night shift.

Gerry served his community as well as patriarch of the Elks and as a member of the Cemetery Board for five years.

In 1973 the Wagners moved to Lively where they had built a house and where they have lived ever since.

In January of 1995 Ivy suffered a stroke which left her unable to walk.  She spent four months in Laurentian Hospital and in May was transferred to the rehab side. In July, Gerry was finally allowed to take his wife home.  The house was made completely wheelchair accessible for Ivy’s needs. Gerry had been advised to have his wife go to a nursing home but he adamantly refused.  He has been taking care of her for 12 years now without ever a complaint.

On June 6, 2004, Gerry and Ivy celebrated their 60th Wedding Anniversary by renewing their wedding vows at St. Peter’s United Church in Sudbury – and wouldn’t you know it? – it was pouring rain as it had on their wedding day in 1944!


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