This June 1959 staff photo from Sooke Elementary School illustrates the enormous change in population Sooke has experienced in the half century past. In that year, one elementary school, grades one to six, served the entire region including East Sooke and Shirley.
Milnes Landing High School, encompassing Grades seven to 12, had opened in September 1946. Middle schools were not yet heard of, though junior high schools were in place in urban areas like Victoria.
At left rear, Elinor Eve was teaching Grade 2 that year. She went on to marry Dave McClimon, raise a family and together with Dave, developed Lannon Creek Mobile Home Park. Next is Herman Leung, who in September of that year moved into the principalship of the brand new Saseenos Elementary School, then to Glen Lake and eventually on to a career in school administration.
The next teacher in the photo, Violet Crane, was short term, while last in the row is Ingrid Greenlees. She had taught at Leechtown before coming to Sooke School, then moved to Milne’s Landing High, before finishing her teaching career at Bridge River.
Left front is Muriel Westad, a girl from the prairies who taught at the one-room Elder’s Camp school before moving on to a long career teaching Grade one at Sooke. Next is the legendary Annie Acreman, who had come to Sooke from Prince George in 1924 as Annie Johnson, married logging truck driver Bert Acreman and went on to teach four generations at Sooke.
Laurie Simpson, also a prairie boy, was principal so long he almost became a legend himself. One of his highlights was organizing the 100 year anniversary of the school in 1972.
Dorothy Kendrew is seated next; married to dairy farmer Rex Kendrew, she lived right next door to the school. Last is Stella Lajeunesse, who came to the area from Alberta in 1935 with her husband Fred Lajeunesse, a heavy equipment operator in the forest industry. After a decade at Sooke Elementary, Stella went on to Milne’s Landing where she taught math for many years.
While we don’t have a figure on the number of staff at Sooke area schools today, we expect it would run into the hundreds.
Sooke Region Museum