Born August 14, 1907, to Arthur and Mary Jane (McCauley) Tuck, Helen Ruby, was the third daughter of five who grew up at 680 Bell Street in North Bay. Her youngest sister, Isabel Smith, who is 85 years young, is the only remaining sister. She is living in North Bay at present.
At a very early age, Helen decided that she wanted to be an opera singer and was fortunate enough to be able to take singing lessons when she was a teenager. She had acquired her love of music from her father who enjoyed playing ’78 records on the old gramophone and listening to classical music on the radio. Her father, a conductor on the T&O Railroad (later the ONR), was a kind and gentle man who also fostered her love of sports. Helen excelled at Track and Field while attending North Bay Collegiate.
After graduating from High School, her hopes of becoming a professional singer were dashed when her parents steered her away from what they called an “unstable artistic future”. She was encouraged instead, to go into nursing at Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto. After receiving her cap, she contracted osteomyelitis and was forced to curtail her training. She returned to North Bay and, once her health improved, she worked for Dr. Crowe in his office on McIntyre Street.
She started singing in St. John’s Church choir and joined the Grace Gibbard Women’s Auxiliary in 1924. She eventually joined the Victor Chorus, which became the North Bay Choral Society, where she continued to sing for many years.
In 1925, Helen met Herbert William Scott who was attending Teacher’s College in North Bay. On May 20, 1930, they were married and had four children: Stanley Herbert (deceased), Robert John, Helen Joanne and Beverley Jean.
They raised their children for the first sixteen years in Capreol, while Herb worked on the railroad and then moved back to North Bay to 459 Harvey Street in 1948.
In those happy times, the children enjoyed rushing home from school to have their senses assaulted by some wonderful aroma of baking, cooking, pickling and jelly-making. Her specialties were Jelly Braid and chili, but hundreds of pies, cakes, stews, soups and casseroles magically appeared from the kitchen onto the dining room table!
In fact, everything she tried became a joyous endeavor – embroidered tea towels, pillow cases, smocked dresses, petit-point pictures and chair cushions. She had inherited her mother’s love of baking, sewing and handicrafts. Eventually, the walls of her home were all adorned with her paintings and handiwork.
Helen and Herb also joined the Eastern Star where they became Matron and Patron at one point and loved traveling all over Canada to attend many functions. By this time, because Herb had retired, they extended their travels to Europe, visiting their daughter, Joanne, in England and Beverley, in Ireland.
They eventually decided to join the “snowbirds” in Florida every winter so Herb didn’t have to miss any golf. They maintained a mobile home in Dade City for over twenty years. Helen
continued to sing in the church choir in Florida for six months of the year.
Ahead of her time, Helen was environmentally and politically astute and constantly wrote to members of Parliament for improvements to the regulations concerning the environment.
Eventually, the United Nations contacted her in 1998 and asked her to be an ambassador. Though flattered, she had to decline because, at the age of 90, “the traveling required would have been
too much” for her.
Helen died on April 9, 2003, in her 96th year, after a brief struggle with cancer. For most of her life, she lived happily and prospered, all the time keeping her home here in North Bay. She dearly loved her eleven grandchildren and thirty-three great-grandchildren. Helen inspired all
those whose lives she touched.