The population of Shirley School

SOOKE HISTORY: Shirley School

Shirley School was learning base for many pioneer families.

Elida Peers

Contributed

These 19 kids, with perhaps a couple of absentees, formed the enrolment of Shirley School in 1940. Pioneer family names will be recognized here.

Rear, we have Freddie George then Clifford Payne, David Anderson, Ronald Clark, Charlie Cross, Bill Milligan, George French and John and Allan Milligan.  Front:  Margaret Cross, Janie Cross, Loretta George, Jean George, Lorna Cross, Ruth Banner, Gloria Payne, Corinne Hawkes, Shirley Banner and Delores George.

Mr. Dixon was the teacher for the one-room frame school, which stood just a wee bit down on Sheringham Point Road, off West Coast Road, and had been built in 1916, long before the Shirley Community Hall was in place.

The four children pictured here of the well-known George family, children of Eddie George and Daisy Planes, have one member still resident in Sooke today. She is Jean Whitford, mother of two former chiefs of the T’Sou-ke, Larry Underwood and Rose Dumont.

The Cross family, pioneers of the Sheringham Point area, is also represented here by four siblings; many will remember Lorna (later Mrs Hap Ross) who was a devotee of the Sooke Fall Fair.  Her elder sister Margaret (later Mrs, Jesse Newell), lost her life many years later trying to save a patient in her care; her husband accepted the Star of Courage Medal presented to her posthumously by Governor General Jean Sauve in Ottawa in 1985.

The Milligan boys were sons of Jack, Norval, Dunbar and Bill Milligan, who along with their dad Jonathon Milligan ran Milligan’s Logging enterprise of Shirley and Otter Point. The youngest son, Allan, came on a reminiscing visit to Sooke from North Vancouver not long ago. The Payne children were attending Shirley School because their dad was working at Boyd’s sawmill; we understand Gloria Payne Laberge is living in Langford today.

Ronald Clark was one of the children of Percy and Margaret Clark, Shirley pioneers; that generation is all gone now. Ruth and Shirley Banner, pictured, are daughters of Edwin and Frances Banner, a couple who not only raised a large family, had a long career with B.C. Electric and B.C. Hydro’s Jordan River operation, but had the distinction of being able to celebrate their 77th wedding anniversary.

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Elida Peers is the historian of Sooke Region Museum.