In the meantime, the researcher I hired to dig around in the Manitoba Provincial Archives in search of my grandparents' divorce came up with nothing. When Spokane Superior Court couldn't find her second divorce, I sat down and thought for a while and went, aha! You can marry anywhere, but you can't divorce just anywhere, and while Spokane was the closest courthouse it was not the county seat for Stevens County; that was in Colville. Colville spun me around a bit but did in fact find it and send it to me, conveniently in the form of a pdf after I made payment via the Official Payments Corp.
Anyway. I sat down to do a little thinking about what I knew and how I knew it, and I concluded that while I had assumed that my grandparents stayed in the small town in Manitoba where they had children 2-4, I didn't really know that. In fact, I knew that my grandfather wound up in British Columbia, where he died a few months after I was born. A brief review of what I had put up on ancestry.com reminded me that when he attended my parents' wedding, he brought his second (and last) wife with him, and the newspaper clipping said they lived in Vancouver.
How did I know that my grandparents didn't move to Vancouver with the kids? I knew the kids had moved a bunch as small children; I assumed that was post divorce but didn't have any particular reason to believe that. So off to look for movement breadcrumbs and boy, howdy, did I find some.
First off, my grandfather, who I had believed never lived in the US, came to my grandmother's home town and lived there with her for two years before they both returned to Manitoba to have the rest of their kids.
Second, that wasn't his first stay in the US. The first stay was for a few months in the winter of 1928-9, in Satanta, KS, and good luck explaining that one.
Third, ancestry.com has Voter's Records (they call them Electoral something-or-other, but same diff) for Canada. I started with 1968 in Nanaimo, because grand-dad died the year after that and I was betting that last name would not be particularly common. From there, I took the way his name was represented "Wm." and went looking in Vancouver, where I found him first living as a "carpenter" with Mrs. W. in 1945, then in 1949 with three roommates, including Alvina Webb, no occupation given. Then in 1957, 1958, 1965. Always at the same address, altho Alvina acquires his last name between 1958 and 1965. In the newspaper clipping in 1959, she is represented as his wife, but I'd sure like to see a marriage certificate with a date on it to know when the event actually happened. And Alvina is still in Nanaimo in 1972, after my grandfather dies.
It's very convenient that my grandfather had a roommate for many of these years, both in the form of Alvina and also some other guy named Hugh Pease, because the transcribers of the voter records could not seems to get the last name right. You'd think something printed would be easy, but no: the terminal s was once a t and once an a, and not just on my grandfather. It got mistranscribed all over the records.