SOOKE HISTORY: Top of the class – eight MLHS students who earned degrees

These Milne Landing High School residents have reason to smile. (Sooke Region Museum photo)

Elida Peers | Contributed

Coming across a composite picturing eight graduates of Milnes Landing High School who earned university degrees by 1955, we found they had gone on to various interesting experiences. Since that time, many local graduates go on to university degrees, but in mid-century, it was not commonplace.

At left is Geraldine Conder (now Soria), a 1950 graduate of MLHS who earned a bachelor of arts (BA) at the University of B.C. and chose a diplomatic corps career. As a secretary, she was posted first to Greece, then Geneva, Switzerland, where she was part of the Conference of Disarmament delegation, and finally to Istanbul and Ankara in Turkey. Back in Canada with her husband, she lived first in Montreal, now in Surrey.

Next in the photo is Marcia Pontious (later Selby), whose UBC degree was in home economics. Marcia went on to live in the Cranbrook area, where she ran a florist business. She inherited the Soule property, which later became Sooke’s much-appreciated Ed Macgregor Park.

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Laurie Wilson, next, was valedictorian of the first MLHS class to graduate in 1947. His BA degree took him into a teaching career, which he pursued throughout Greater Victoria and Saanich, becoming a school principal.

On the right is Gail Lajeunesse (now Hall), who recalls that she drove with David McClimon and Marcia Pontious into Victoria College for the first two years, and then went on to Vancouver for her BA degree at UBC. She enjoyed her position as a ward clerk at Royal Columbian Hospital, returning to Sooke in retirement.

Howard Elder, the only grandson of the kingpin of the well-known firm (1930s to 1950s) Elder Logging, earned a bachelor of science (BSc) before taking his degree in engineering at UBC. He went on to a prominent career throughout B.C.’s forest industry before turning to local politics and consulting.

David Conder, the younger brother of Geraldine, took his UBC degree in science and a master’s degree before taking a position with Dow Chemical in Sarnia, Ont. Coming back to B.C., he taught chemistry at the B.C. Institute of technology, and now lives in Tsawwassen.

David McClimon attended Victoria College, then carried on to UBC to graduate with a bachelor of commerce degree. He put his degree to good use back home, first at Belmont High and later at Edward Milne High, where he initiated the school’s commercial and counselling programs. David’s interests expanded beyond academia, and he went into business locally, where perhaps he is best known for Lannon Creek Park.

Lastly, I’m afraid we don’t have a history for Michael Robson, though he once contacted us from Indianapolis.

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Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.

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