Custodian Mr. Peters cutting wood to stoke the Milne’s Landing High School furnance.

Custodian Mr. Peters cutting wood to stoke the Milne’s Landing High School furnance.

SOOKE HISTORY: Milne’s Landing High School 1946

A crosscut saw being welded on the grounds of the high school today would probably be unbelievable, but in 1946, it was normal

The idea of a crosscut saw being wielded on the grounds of the high school today would probably be unbelievable, but this photo illustrates the actual activity in 1946.

The school’s custodian, Mr. Peters, is using the crosscut saw to cut sections of the trees that had been felled on the grounds into lengths that would fit into the school’s furnace.

The army huts that classes were held in during those first years were often chilly enough that we wore our coats and poor Mr. Peters was kept busy trying to keep the furnace fed.

Over his shoulder in the photo you can just make out a gravel roadway leading up the hill towards what was then the Canadian National Railway track.

I don’t know what happened to that hill, because it’s not there today. In the late 1940s it was the escape route for us kids in the winter when we played hooky from classes.

We’d gather up our skates and head towards the pond that provided us with a skating rink surrounded by woods between Kirby Road, the track, and Sooke River Road.

It’s a good illustration of how climate change is affecting us as there is no way one could skate on a pond off Sooke River Road today.

Memories of the early days of Milne’s Landing High School were exchanged last Thursday evening as alumni gathered to celebrate the school’s 70th year.

Today the high tech classrooms of Edward Milne Community School are a far cry from the days 70 years ago when we took courses such as typing and French by correspondence courses.

One of the people I was particularly pleased to see was Terry Sankey, a member of Sooke’s pioneer Helgesen family, who’d been principal here in the 1970s. He had come from his home near Kelowna to renew old acquaintances.

Five students, Audrey Sullivan (later Wilson), Gwen Jenner (later Farmer), Merle Forrest (later Proteau), Joan Rumsby (later Zipp), and the lone male, Laurie Wilson were the members of the historic first class to graduate west of Victoria, in 1947.

Even though the school was housed in the former Milne’s Landing army training camp, there was a lot of community pride.  I noticed the same pride in the students today, though the graduating class in June 2016 had risen to 144.

•••

Elida Peers is the historian of Sooke Region Museum

 

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