SOOKE HISTORY: Muir Creek School

Max and Dal Elder offered to build a school for elementary kids if the provincial Department of Education would supply a teacher.

It may be hard to believe now, but yes, there was a one-room school at Elder’s Camp, reached by Anderson Road at the border of Shirley, just a bit beyond the entrance to the Malahat Farm property.

Back in the days when Elder Logging Company was logging the Muir Creek and Tugwell Creek watersheds, brothers Max and Dal Elder offered to build a school for elementary kids if the provincial Department of Education would supply a teacher. Most of the school age youngsters, of course, were children of company employees and lived in camp or nearby.

Muir Creek School opened in 1941 and its final year was 1954, the year of this photo. By that time, students from the western areas were being bused to Sooke elementary. The teacher in the photo is Laurie Simpson, who went on to a career as vice-principal and then principal of Sooke elementary.

A dozen one-room schools were in place throughout the region west of Victoria in earlier days, until the Cameron Report of 1945 set up consolidated school districts throughout the province, intended to bring students together for expanded educational opportunities.

Two other teachers who served at Muir Creek early in their teaching careers were Muriel Westad who went on to become the Grade 1 teacher at Sooke, and Eleanor Hartman, who married Paul Michelsen, moved to Jordan River and taught there until her retirement.

Students in the back row were:  Michael Bumberry, Gary Adcock, who made a home at the top of Muir Creek hill, Betty-Jean Wimsett, Laura Halderson, Bernice Adcock, who we understand currently lives in Manitoba, Jimmy King, and Bill Pedneault, who has been well-known in Sooke Salmon Enhancement circles for half a century.

In the front row are Davida Dunnett, Susan French, Janet Halderson, Michael Dunnett, Judy Walker, George Walker, Jean Halderson and Linda Walker.  Linda, married to Bob Anderson, is also well-known in the Sooke community, particularly as an artist and an art teacher.

Sadly, Eleanor Michelsen and Muriel Westad have passed on. Younger of the teachers, Laurie Simpson, however, lives in retirement on Belleville Street in Victoria, and we check Sooke history with him every now and then.

•••

Elida Peers is the historian of Sooke Region Museum.