Alice Milne Gray was born to parents Hugh Milne and Alice Cutler, and though she was born in Sooke, most of her life was spent in Queensland, Australia. (File - Sooke Region Museum)

Alice Milne Gray was born to parents Hugh Milne and Alice Cutler, and though she was born in Sooke, most of her life was spent in Queensland, Australia. (File - Sooke Region Museum)

Alice Milne left Sooke for the Australian outback

She was the granddaughter of Edward Milne Sr.

Elida Peers | Contributed

Today as we watch youngsters playing on the soccer and ballfields of Fred Milne Park, alongside the busy intersection of Sooke River Road and Highway 14, a bank of shrubs screens a private home at the far end of the fields.

For almost a century, it was quite a different house which stood there, called Moss End, a cottage which had been the birthplace of Alica Edna, pictured here in 1893.

Alice Edna was born to parents Hugh Milne and Alice Cutler, and though she was born in Sooke, most of her life was spent in Queensland, Australia. I met her Proserpine, Queensland, in 1974 while visiting my sister.

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Proserpine was the heart of a prosperous sugar cane region, and perhaps that was why Hugh Milne, the second son of Edward Milne Sr., pulled up stakes, packed up the first of the couple’s eventual six children and headed to a new life in a tropical clime.

When Edward Milne Sr. and his wife arrived in Sooke with their grown family of two sons and four daughters in 1884, the senior gentleman was soon to die. This meant his eldest son, Edward Milne Jr., became the family patriarch, taking over the property near the bridge at the western corner of Sooke River Road.

When Hugh Milne married Alice Cutler in 1892, the young couple established themselves in a cottage built at the far end of what are now green-turfed playing fields but, at that time, were fields of oats.

The first of their six children arrived before the couple moved to the sugar-cane country, and while the kids grew up in the tropics, the firstborn, Alice, never forgot her roots at the Milne farm in far off British Columbia.

It was only natural that my sister, who married and settled in Australia, introduced me to the lovely Alice, born in Sooke, who lived in the same village in northern Queensland. Little Alice had grown up to marry Herb Gray, and as their growing family spread out over the land, they were always fascinated by tales of where their Grandma Alice had come from.

Over the years, many Milne descendants have visited Sooke. Alice Milne Gray sent her granddaughters here with Milne items, including her dolly’s clothes, school items, and wedding dress, all valued parts of the Sooke Region Museum’s collections.

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Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum. Email historian@sookeregionmuseum.com.



editor@sookenewsmirror.com

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