SOOKE HISTORY: Remembering the Class of 1947

Sooke students always have a sense of pride

The Milne’s Landing High School Class of 1947 included Joan Rumsby, Gwen Jenner, Audrey Sullivan, Merle Forrest, and Laurie Wilson (seated). (Sooke Region Museum photo)

As I watched the 2020 graduates of Edward Milne Community School walk in front of the building wearing their gowns and mortarboards last week, practicing social distancing, I thought of the ongoing sense of pride of the graduating students, but also of the enormous changes that have taken place over the last 73 years since our first graduation.

The class of 1947, at Milne’s Landing High School, was the first high school class to graduate west of Victoria. Back then, there was no Belmont High School, it came a bit later.


MLHS opened its doors in 1946, using the old army camp buildings constructed on the Milne farm during the Second World War.

The smiling group of graduates you see here were posed in the living room of the first principal of the school, John B. Wilkinson. This structure, originally the guardhouse for the army camp, was converted into living quarters for the principal’s family.

At left is Joan Rumsby, sister to the well-known brother electricians, Larry and Bill Rumsby. Joan became Mrs. Zipp and made a home in Seattle, coming back to Sooke later. Next to Joan is Gwen Jenner, whose mother became the home economics teacher at the school. Gwen became Mrs. Farmer and the couple made their home in Esquimalt.

Next in line is Audrey Sullivan, who married John Wilson, raised a large family and went on to teach in Sooke schools. Audrey’s siblings, Rodney Sullivan and Lynda Fisk still live in Sooke, while sister Yvonne Reibin lives in Langford. Merle Forrest is on the right; Merle became Mrs. Proteau and made her home in Nanaimo. Merle’s older brother Pat Forrest, a well-known local fisherman, graduated a couple of years earlier from Victoria High School.

Seated in the centre of this group of belles is Laurie Wilson. Son of Albert Wilson, who initiated Sooke Lockers & Cold Storage, Laurie went on to spend his career as a teacher in Victoria, where he and his wife Norma made their home.

By the 1960s, the school’s name changed to Edward Milne Secondary School, and the size of graduating classes had begun to expand; when it became Edward Milne Community School in 1987, the graduates numbered 10 times our first five grads.

Wouldn’t it be fascinating if we could somehow look decades ahead and see what interesting lives the graduates of 2020 will be contributing to their world?


Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Metchosin to test tsunami notification on Thursday evening

Approximately 80 to 100 residents in tsunami-zone

Sooke Crisis Centre closes doors

Services previously offered to be dispersed throughout community support groups

New affordable homes on the way in Sooke

Eight new affordable rental homes to be built at Hope Centre

CRD explores option to use Oak Bay Lodge for people who are homeless

Motion asks staff to work with BC Housing, Island Health on possibilities

B.C. residents can go to the Royal BC Museum for half price all summer

Museum reopening in phases, COVID-19 measures in place

VIDEO: Victoria’s Raging Grannies call for end to public funding of for-profit senior homes

Organizer says COVID-19 has made senior home issues more apparent

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

RCMP disarm man experiencing mental health crisis

The male pulled a knife on officers and then held it to his own throat expressing a desire to die

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Conservation officers relocate Spirit bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

Most Read