In Celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday the Sooke Region Museum received a generous donation from Sooke native Valerie Braunschweig, a descendant of John Muir, the founder of Sooke.
The Bible, which is approximately 155 years old, belonged to Michael Muir, who was the youngest son of John’s and holds records of the deaths, births and marriages of Muir family members.
“The historical information that is in that Bible is irreplaceable,” said Baunschweig. “It is evidence of history from a time before Canada was even a country or British Columbia was a province.”
In 1848, the John Muir and his wife Ann Miller set off from Scotland on a six-month-long adventure to Canada on a contract with the Hudson Bay Company in search of coal.
Sooke historian Elida Peers explained that when Ann first came through the Sooke Basin in 1849 when they arrived, she fell in love with the area.
“She told John she would love to live there because it’s so beautiful,” said Peers.
Ann was one of the first immigrant women to set foot on the coast.
John and Ann stayed in Victoria for a couple of months, but then moved up Island to Fort Rupert for work.
In 1851, John’s contract was up with the Hudson Bay Company so they decided to move back and settle in Sooke.
They gave birth to four children, Andrew, John Jr., Robert and Michael.
The Muir family then made a successful living running a logging company and building ships.
“Once the Muir son’s were financially stable enough, they built properties of their own,” said Peers. “Michael’s was the Burnside Property off Sooke Road.”
In 1862 Michael married Matelda Welsh, and within the Bible wrote their names and wedding date. The Bible has been kept within the family ever since.
“I was very pleased to make the decision to donate the Bible to the museum,” said Braunschweig.
“I know they will take care of it, and I think it’s important for locals and tourists alike to know the story of Sooke and how significant it is to Canadian history.
“I don’t want our history to disappear, we need to celebrate it.”