Our Family History at Shawnigan from 1904 to Now

1904 to 1920's 
- Clay Family - MAHEMAKAJA

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. 

Where 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 Siblings:   

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.

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.  

The property was passed on to the Clay Children upon their mothers death in 1945.

(Click on photos to view larger images)

1924 to 1940's - Family at Shawnigan Lake Clays and Ellis

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
Barbara Joan Ellis - Born November 7, 1927 died February 14, 2010. 

The Ellis 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.  

1940's & 1950's - Shawnigan Families Clay, Ellis and Averys  

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  Shawnigan Ellis and Averys 

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

1990 - 2017 Shawnigan Families: Ellis', Avery, Gardiners, Waets & Battlers.  As you can see in the photos below Shirley Ellis at 96 still plays an integral part in painting and keeping the burn pile flames going during our fall and spring work parties and cleanups.  Although Shirley no longer swims 3 to 4 days a week or plays bridge or plays tennis she does lie in the sun almost every day and plays scrabble with us on the internet.    In order to keep our beloved lake property we now rent the larger cabin during the summer months to pay the taxes and repairs and maintenance.   

1978 Front of Cabin

Aunt Joan Avery's Cabin  1978

1978 Back Entrance of Cabin

Back  Entrance of Cabin 1978

2002 Wedding 
Debbie Ellis and Michael Battler

Fall Paining crew

Family Fall Painting Crew

Oct 6th 2012 Thanksgiving Dinner

2013 Family Thanksgiving Dinner 

Teri Ellis Gardiner and Lee Bouchard 

2017 Cabin

Front of Cabin 2017

2017 Back Entrance

Back Entrance 2017

2008 Wedding 
Jessica and Duncan Gardiner 

Spring Clean up

Family Spring clean up

2004 100 Year Celebration

2004 - 100 Year Anniversary Celebration

August 16 2014 Wedding
Cathy Ellis Mckinsty and Ken Waet 

Bass and Trout Fishing with friends and family

Michael Battler and Shawn Kelly Bass fishing

The Cabana 1972

Scarlett Gardiner Fishing

The Cabana 2017

2090 Shawnigan Lake Rd Shawnigan Lake, BC V0R 2W5
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