Our Family History at Shawnigan from 1904 to Now

1904 to 1920's 
 was the name given to the family summer cabin at Shawnigan Lake, which was derived from the first two initials of the Clay children's names Margaret, Helen, Mary, Kay and Jack. 

How it all began...Leslie Clay was born at Bedeque, P.E.I, November 12, 1863 to February 2nd 1928.  He married Florence Nightingale Leitch on July 2nd 1890 in P.E.I. (born September 22nd 1863 to June 17th 1945).  Following graduation from from McGill in 1887 winning the Prince of Wales gold medal in Mental and Moral Philosophy.  His first charge was at Morris Manitoba and later at St Andrew's Church in Moose Jaw Saskatchewan. In 1894, he was called to St Andrew's Victoria and remained there for nearly thirty-four years.  In 1913, his alma mater awarded him an honorary Doctorate and in 1927 he was elected Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. 

The Reverend W Leslie Clay, BA MA DD and Mrs Clay had two sons and four daughters. Dr and Mrs Clay purchased the Shawnigan Lake property in 1904. The reason behind the purchase was because their eldest Daughter Margaret Clay was suffering from TB and the doctors suggested the mountain air would be good for her health.  In 1904 there was only a gravel road where the Malahat Island highway is today and Mt Baldy beside the lake was the closest and highest mountain around.  It must have really worked because Margaret lived for 91 years!

Clay Children:   

Margaret (Peggy) Jean Clay - Born September 30, 1891 died April 1982, Margaret was the chief librarian in charge of the Victoria Public Library for 28 years from 1924 to 1952.  She was instrumental in the beginnings of the Bookmobiles. 

John (Jack) Leitch Clay - Born April 26, 1893 died Jan 1951, married Loretta (Laura) Maud Blake.  Jack Clay was a founding barrister of the law firm of Clay & Macfarlane now known as Clay & Company from 1919 to 1951 upon his death. 

Helen Amelia Clay - Born September 25, 1894 died 03 January 1957  Helen was a renowned Canadian weaver throughout her life.  Married William (Billy) Sturgis Ellis on June 25th, 1924.  born 18 Sep 1889; died. 08 Jul 1960. Billy worked at the family business Barber Ellis in Vancouver and loved the game of rugby and was an avid player and coach.

(Click on photos to view larger images)

Leslie Dawson Clay- Born October 18, 1896 (died Oct 31 1898 from a fire accident)

Florence Mary (Mernie) Minto Clay - Born August 24, 1899, died 19 Mar 1968 was the legal secretary for Judge Alan B. MacFarlane while he was a partner at Clay & Macfarlane.  Mary spent much of her time volunteering at St Andrews Church as a Sunday School teacher for many years.

Kathleen (Kay) Mabel Clay - Born March 3, 1904. died 14 Mar 1993.  Was quite well known socially and spent her life running the three story family home on Linden Ave. in Victoria which was turned into rental apartments.  

1924 to 1940's Helen and Billy Ellis were the only couple in the family to have children, one son and one daughter.  Richard (Dick) Carlyle Ellis - Born August 16, 1925 died June 1974 and Barbara Joan Ellis - Born November 7, 1927 died February 14, 2010.   The family lived in Vancouver and moved to Victoria in the early 50's.   Dick Ellis (Inducted into the BC Rugby Hall of Fame in 2006) followed in his fathers footsteps with his life long passion for rugby which filled his every spare moment for his entire life.  He was a very active member of the Oak Bay Wanderers and at the time of his death in 1974 (from a scuba diving accident) he was the President of the Canadian Rugby Union.  Richard "Dick" Ellis was called to the bar in 1950 and joined Clay & Macfarlane and became partner at Clay, Macfarlane, Ellis and Popham known today as Clay & Company.  Joan Avery also followed in another of her fathers loves, golf and did very well as an amateur golfer for many years.   The property was passed on to the Clay Children upon their mothers death in 1945.

1940's & 1950's -  Richard Ellis married Shirley Constance Shaw in 1949.   Barbara Joan Ellis married (Duke) Charles Avery in 1956.   The property was passed on to Dick and Joan and their spouses in 1973.  

 1950's - 1970's  Dick and Shirley Ellis had five children Debbie, Cathy, David, Barbara and Patricia.   Joan and Duke Avery had two children Helen and Richard Avery.

TODAY As you can see in the photos below Shirley Ellis at 93 still plays an integral part in painting and keeping the burn pile flames going during our fall and spring work parties and cleanups.  Shirley swims 3 to 4 days a week, plays bridge and loved a good game of tennis up until a few years ago.    Who says you can't drink the water at Shawnigan lake!!!

Family Fall Painting Crew

Fall Paining crew

Family Thanksgiving Dinner 

Oct 6th 2012 Thanksgiving Dinner

Family Spring clean up

Spring Clean up

 Family Christmas 

Outdoor Christmas Tree in the Snow

Bass and Trout Fishing with friends 

Michael Battler and Shawn Kelly Bass fishing
12 ' Trout

2090Shawnigan Lake Road, Shawnigan Lake BC, V0R 2W5CANADA | Toll Free: 1 866-575-0043 |  info@thecabinclub.ca