Amy (named after her grandmother Lady Amelia Douglas) was the eldest of Dr. J.S. Helmcken's four children. Amy was known for her musical talent, and would tirelessly play the piano for family dances.

She married George Archibald McTavish, a noted horticulturist, in December 1877. George moved from his 630-acre farm in North Saanich and brought Amy to Intertavish, owned by his mother Mrs. Duncan.

The McTavish's had a 12 room house with ceiling to floor windows. The grounds were magnificent, with rambler roses climbing the porches, and a garden graced with bulbs, fruit and holly trees. In 1889, the McTavishes started Intertavish Nursery Gardens, a successful floral and seed business.

George McTavish was also a member of the legislature for Saanich, and one of the founding members of the Victoria Yacht Club. As vice-commodore, he judged the racing at the first regatta of the Northwest International Yacht Racing Association.

Amy and George had five children, John Archibald 1878-1929, Margaret Cecilia 1879-1964, Duncan Douglas 1881-1967, Claus Sebastian 1884-1962, and Dorothy Olivia 1889-1972. Dorothy Olivia has many fond memories of trips to Helmcken house to visit her grandparents:

"Every Friday night grandfather Helmcken has us come for dinner, and bring a friend or two from school. That was a very happy time"

Grandpa Helmcken loved to play the card game whist, and on Saturdays (his at home night), he would be looking for someone to join him in a game:

"If I was around I had to play - it was not my idea of fun."

The grandchildren knew that when Grandpa was writing in his diary, there was no disturbing him:

"When he had pen in hand we were all chased away. Even my grandmother didn't dare intrude."

Amy was well respected in the community for her devout charity work. She was the first President of the Women's Auxiliary of the Jubilee Hospital, participation in which was started by her father. She was known as one of the most active members of the Reformed Episcopal Church in addition to serving for many as a committee member for the Aged Women's Home, and as president of the Ladies' Committee of the Orphanage.

Letter to Amy

Claude Helmcken Margret Helmcken


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