Motorcyclists take a smoke break at Milne’s Landing back in the 1930s.

SOOKE HISTORY: Motorcycles at Milne’s Landing

It was a focus point in the community, with the telegraph line in place in 1889, and later on, the telephone office.

Clearly, cigarette smoking was the order of the day for young swells back in the 1930s, judging from the advertising and the puffing in the photo.

We just had gravel roads back then, but these young men enjoyed the adventure out from Victoria nonetheless.  Helmets were unheard of, but goggles were a must.

The young fellows had just stopped at Milne’s Landing Store, run by Edward Milne at the western corner of Sooke River Road at that time.

In the following decade, after the war, a new Milne’s Landing store (a re-cycled army camp building) was erected on the eastern corner of Sooke River Road. Operated early on by Fred Thornber, during the 1960s the store and post office were run by George and Mabel Jones.

It was 1895 when Edward Milne, a Scot, had built his first store and post office, a two-storey building, and the name Milne’s Landing came about because he built wharves on the river’s edge to offload supplies brought out by schooner to supply the store.

It was a focus point in the community, with the telegraph line from Pachena Point running through his place in 1889, and later on, the telephone office was located at Milne’s as well.

The first store was adorned with a sign “E Milne General Merchant” and in time the name Milne’s Landing was given to the postal district and to the nearby CNR station a mile up Sooke River Road.

In 1946, the new Milne’s Landing High School opened on the eastern end of the Milne property in the army camp buildings that the Canadian government had established during the war.

We understand that the feds paid the obligatory one dollar when they expropriated the property in 1943, and when the army training camp was no longer needed after 1945 it was made available to School District No. 62, newly created by the Cameron Commission which was re-organizing school districts throughout B.C.  Since 1987 the school has been called Edward Milne Community School.

The Sooke River Store and Grill that we see on the east corner of River Road today is a replacement structure after a fire burned the previous army hut building while it was under the ownership of Dennis Tottenham.

The motorcycle on the far right was manufactured by Birmingham Small Arms Co. The young fellows in the photo may have motorbiked out as far as Jordan River, as it was a busy end-of-the road town in those days, but they probably ate a lot of dust on the way.

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Elida Peers is the historian of Sooke Region Museum.