Helmcken, John Sebastian

HELMCKEN, John Sebastian, doctor, politician (b 5 June, 1824, London, England; d 1 Sept 1920, Victoria). He arrived in VICTORIA in 1850 as the HBC surgeon for VANCOUVER ISLAND, and for the next 70 years he was one of the city's leading citizens. In 1852 he married Cecilia, daughter of Gov James DOUGLAS, confirming his close ties to the colony's elite. He entered politics in 1856, winning election to the Island's first legislative assembly. He served as speaker from 1856 to 1871. He supported the union of Vancouver Island and the mainland but was dubious about the value of joining CONFEDERATION. Nonetheless, as the most experienced politician in BC, he was part of the 3-man delegation sent to Ottawa in 1870 to negotiate union with Canada. The economic advantages of union overcame his reluctance and in the end he supported Confederation. He then turned down a chance to be premier of the new province: he retired from politics and resumed his medical practice. In 1885 he was the first president of the BC Medical Society (see MEDICAL PROFESSION). His house on Elliot St is now restored as part of the ROYAL BC MUSEUM complex.