SOOKE HISTORY: Alice Cutler a part of Milne legacy

Alice was born on the Isle of Wight and came to Canada with her parents

It was pretty neat to get a call from a descendant of the Milne family, settlers of Milne’s Landing, here on a visit from New Zealand, saying we’d like to meet you and we have photos for you.

Roslyn Gray Mitchell brought a photo we had not seen, of her great-grandmother, Alice Cutler Milne.

While Edward Milne’s name is well known to us as the reason for the name of our high school and for the onetime name of the postal district of Milne’s Landing alongside the Sooke River, there were two brothers, Edward and Hugh Milne, besides four girls in the Milne family that arrived here from Scotland in 1884.

The Edward Milne home still stands at the northeast end of the Sooke River bridge, though it is getting a bit rickety-looking – small wonder, as it has now stood there more than 130 years.

Edward Milne arrived with his wife Janet Kerr, and Hugh, two years younger, soon married a girl he met after their arrival, Alice Cutler.

Hugh and Alice were married in 1892, and made their home a few hundred yards away, calling their place “Moss End.” Today when you drive up Sooke River Road and see the crews working on the new artificial turf installation project for the soccer field, on the hill at the very far end where Hugh Milne’s house once stood.

Alice had been born on the Isle of Wight and came to Canada with her parents. After she married Scotsman Hugh and lived at Moss End, she gave birth to four children.

When the young couple decided to pull up stakes and move their family to another Commonwealth country, they chose Queensland in Australia, right in the heart of the sugar cane plantations. Their first daughter, Edna, grew up to marry Herb Gray, who ran a sawmill in that area.

Edna Milne Gray never lost her feelings for her roots in Sooke, and because she shared her memories of her childhood at Milne’s Landing, and of her parents, Alice Cutler and Hugh Milne with her youngsters in turn, we have had a number of visits to Sooke from far-flung Milne descendants.

So with the arrival of Roslyn and Rae Mitchell, ranchers on New Zealand’s south island, it was fun to show them around the old Milne family haunts and introduce them to Karen, a great-grand-daughter of Edward Milne, and her husband Menno, who live at the pioneer Milne place today.

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Elida Peers is the historian of Sooke Region Museum.

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