Two dear souls they were, Agnes “Nan” Milne and Andre “Andy” Robillard, and in middle age, they married. They are pictured here on their honeymoon in June 1948.
The happy couple are beaming for this wedding photo, which was a long time coming. It wasn’t the romance that was late blooming, but the marriage was. Circumstances of the early years of the 20th Century were very different from those experienced today and sometimes stood in the way of marriage.
Nan Milne was born in 1896, youngest of the six children of Edward Milne and his wife Janet Kerr, both Presbyterian Scots. Nan grew up in the house built by her family at the northeastern end of Sooke River bridge, still standing. As a youngster she walked to Sooke School (the site still in use) and as a young woman she became a telephone operator working at the telephone exchange building which stood between the Milne home and the store at the corner of Sooke River Road. When Nan’s elder sister Ella married, Nan took over her position as chief operator for BC Telephone Co.
Across the river, on the south side, Andre Robillard tended his greenhouses. He and his brother Raoul had run the Belvedere Hotel, the legendary four-storey structure that was a social centre from its construction in 1912 to the day it was engulfed by flames in 1934. After the fire, Raoul left for a career in Vancouver, and horticulturist Andre ran the hotel’s greenhouses, supplying the Victoria market with flowers and produce.
Andre’s love for flowers almost equalled his passion for Nan, and every day, flowers were carried over the bridge to the telephone office to grace her workplace. I myself recall seeing bouquets of beautiful gladiolus being presented to the blushing Miss Milne, who eventually managed a switchboard employing almost a dozen operators. She remained in management until her retirement when Sooke went from magneto phones to direct-dialing in 1960.
The Robillards were of French origin and of the Roman Catholic faith, and it appeared that Nan’s dad, of strict Presbyterian outlook, did not view with favour a mixed-faith marriage. Edward Milne, for whom Edward Milne community school is named, passed away in 1943.
The long-delayed married bliss for Nan and Andre was brief, for Andre lived only until 1956.
Sooke Region Museum