Family stories claimed that Ivor was employed as a manager with Standard Oil in Shanghai China and that he joined the company in 1909 (on the day his daughter Agnes was born) and retired after 25 years of service. As Ivor married Lily in 1898, he obviously must have had other jobs prior to 1909. But on re-reading his BC death registration from 1946, his son Arthur reported that Ivor was a Paymaster and that he retired in 1929 after 30 years in that occupation. He is also listed as a merchant on some travel documents. So details vary. Regardless, he seems to have had plenty of leave time prior to his retirement, allowing him and his family to travel relatively frequently back and forth to Canada to visit family. And his employer paid for the tickets - nice perk!
In 1921, we already knew from a Canadian passenger list that Ivor, Lily and their son Arthur traveled from Hong Kong to Vancouver and then on to Kelowna and Salmon Arm for a 6 month visit with his brother Bob and his son Bill. Their 3 daughters (Agnes age 12, Gladys age 10 and Joyce age 3) must have been left behind in Shanghai in the care of their Amah, which I find hard to comprehend considering the duration of their absence. But this seems to be true, as I have now located Ivor, Lily and Arthur, along with their oldest son William (Bill) age 19, in the 1921 census, living in a single wood 4-room house in Salmon Arm BC which Ivor apparently owned (really?). As Bill had already been living in BC for about 5 years under the care of his Uncle Bob, perhaps this was an attempt by his parents to get reacquainted and influence him as he entered adulthood. Ivor's brother Robert William (Bob), along with his wife Ethel and 6 children have also been found in the 1921 census, still living in Kelowna BC (south of Salmon Arm).
I have already reported that Lily left Shanghai and moved back to Canada in 1926, apparently for health reasons, along with children Gladys, Arthur and Joyce, while Ivor and Agnes stayed behind in Shanghai. According to Joyce's childhood memoirs, they first lived in Vancouver and then in Seattle before moving to Victoria prior to Ivor's retirement. I have now been able to place Ivor and Lily in Seattle at 2323 East Spring in 1927 thanks to the Seattle City Directory for that year. This corresponds with the family history notes I made when talking to Joyce back in 1987:
... Their next move was to Seattle. There were several moves while in Seattle. Ivor and Agnes came out from China while they lived on East Spring. Ivor and Mary [her name was Lily Mary, and she seems to have gone by both names at various times] went on a trip back east and Joyce caught a severe case of the measles. Mary insisted on coming home early - ESP? Ivor then moved the family to Victoria and bought a house on Dunsmuir Street in Esquimalt. The house never had a furnace. Ivor went back to China for another year before retirement. Mary moved the family to an apartment and rented out the house as she didn't know how to heat it. When Ivor returned on the "Empress of Russia" they moved back to Dunsmuir Street and lived there for many years.
But what about Ivor and Lily's daughter Agnes who is not included on these passenger lists? According to my interview notes:
When Joyce was about 16 (1933?), Ivor sent Agnes and Gladys back to China. Agnes was unable to get a job. She married P. Laurie Morphew in Harry White's house. Gladys was able to find work ....
If her sister Gladys did return to China about 1933, when and how did she move back to Canada? I have now found Gladys on a passenger and crew list, already back in Canada in 1944, working as a news agent in the gift shop aboard the Princess Victoria which traveled between Victoria and Seattle. According to family stories, this is how she met her future husband Don MacKinnon who became a ferry boat captain. According to the crew list, Gladys had been working for 2 years at the job.
Hopefully I'll be able to find even more about this THOMAS family. An overview of Ivor Thomas' family is also posted on this site, including some old family photos.