Family Histories

True Love. Billy and Iva Oates

Written by Karen Bell

Every day you’ll find him making the half-hour drive into town to visit his one true love.

The love affair began nearly 70 years ago between two youngsters on the Queens Line. Billy Oates and Iva Hawthorn were schoolmates in the local one-room schoolhouse and lived with their farming families about a mile from each other.

Their first date may have been at the country fair, a local Sadie-Hawkins dance or at a lunchbox social and soon blossomed into a budding romance. After marrying in 1951 they settled on the Oates family farm on the Queens Line and raised four children. Supporting each other throughout their farming life they won praise for their award-winning dairy herd and for Iva’s passion of recording local farm and family histories.

Billy and Iva Oates on their 55th wedding anniversary. June 2007.They retired and built a new home on Billy’s ancestor’s land in Foresters Falls in the early eighties and enjoy their time most when helping family, friends and neighbours. Billy restored the “gazebo” that his Great Grandfather built on the property and it proudly stands beside their home on the outskirts of Foresters Falls as a testament of love for past present and future generations. “Billy and Iva” are active members of their local community, church and lodge and in recent years worked together with other dedicated volunteers to help rebuild and open the Ross Museum and refurbish St.Aidens Church.

Hardships were faced together when Billy required surgery and Iva underwent medical treatments but each at alternating times so they could be strong enough to care for the other in their time of need. Recently, when Iva’s condition required more medical attention than could be provided in their home, Billy made the difficult decision to move Iva to the Bonnechere Manor in Renfrew, where he and Iva had toured together and decided upon many years earlier. Billy remains totally committed to her and spends every day by her side at the Manor helping with her care and meals. I’ve often heard him say that he knows that Iva would do the same for him if circumstances were reversed, and I know she would. The love in his eyes and her gentle smile when they are together affirms that their love for each other remains strong and true.