If you were standing on the hillside above the Sooke River Hotel (the Castle) looking northward in 1915, you would be viewing Milne’s Landing as an important centre of commerce and communication.
Besides the farm providing a livelihood to the large Milne family, this junction of Sooke Road and Sooke River Road offered a general store and post office. While the Milne family had arrived from Scotland in the 1880s, it was in 1895 that Edward Milne opened his commercial business in the two-storey building seen close to the far right. The building also housed a telegraph outlet for the tree-to-tree telegraph line connecting Cape Beale to Victoria.
The “Landing” part of the name had come about because supplies for the Milne enterprise came in at first by ship. Vessels would offload their cargo at wharves on the river’s edge; wharf remnants may be seen on the shoreline downstream of the bridge. The first bridge across the river had been constructed in 1872, and overland travel from Victoria to Sooke was by horseback, horse and wagon, or even on foot.
At the time of this photo, the road had progressed to the point of being graveled and motor vehicles had overtaken horses as the usual means of transportation.
Centre right of the photo one sees the home of Edward and Janet Milne and their children Ella, Edward, William, Janet, Fred and Agnes. Since 1913 the Milne family home also accommodated the first telephone switchboard to serve the community.
While the pioneer home still stands today, trees and foliage at the northeastern end of the bridge protect it from view. Gone now is the cottage called “Moss End” seen peeking out from above the Milne house, built for Edward’s brother Hugh Milne prior to his move to Australia.It was located at the far end of the oatfield that today has become Fred Milne Park, and now hosts hundreds of youngsters playing soccer on weekends.
A succession of commercial structures and a series of owners have continued to operate at this corner, long gone are the flocks of showy peacocks and peahens which strutted about the terrain, lending their brilliant colours and raucous cries to contribute to the unique character of Milne’s Landing.
Sooke Region Museum