High up on the “Widow’s Walk” of Woodside Farm

SOOKE HISTORY: A Romance story for Valentine’s

Katherine Muir and Arthur Harvey's honeymoon home in Sooke

It was kind of neat to read that Victoria has once again been designated Romance Capital of Canada.

While we aren’t Victoria, we’ve had plenty of romances in our town as well. There are even tales of assignations at the Belvedere Hotel which once stood on the headland by the river.

But this story is quite decorous.

Katherine Muir is the young girl pictured here in 1885. She was standing atop the “Widow’s Walk” of Woodside Farm, family home of John Muir Jr. and his wife Annie Welsh Muir. Her brother Douglas appears to be painting the Widow’s Walk.

When Katherine got a little older she met Arthur Harvey, and their romance began.

In those times, of course, chaperones were required, but that did not stop the romance and they married in 1905.

The Harveys established a home close by Katherine’s parents, and in fact, if you are driving out west on Highway 14 today, you will pass the little farm where they lived, at that time part of the Muir family holdings, right at the far corner of Grant Road. (The road did not then extend past Woodside farm; travellers heading further west took the Otter Point Road, which was routed further inland, until it reached Tugwell Creek.)

The young couple happily made their home close to family.

In those frontier-like days, hunting filled in for the absence of grocery stores, and our archives holds a photo of Arthur Harvey with a bear he had shot there.

Today Steve and Pam Arnett live on the same spot, which is now congested with houses. Readers who knew Mae Linell will recognize that her home, where she lived with her husband Oke, is directly across West Coast Road.

But back to honeymooners. Katherine and Arthur Harvey; they lived happily close to her Muir relatives, until circumstances required relocating to Victoria.

Next, it was a British veteran, Capt. PW deP Taylor, who brought his London socialite wife to settle on the small farm in 1921. They ran a Jersey dairy herd there until 1926, when they built the fine mansion Deerlepe, off Whiffin Spit Road.        

Recently Valerie Clark spoke with us of when she and husband Charlie Clark bought the property in 1959 from Humphrey Connell.

The Clarks, soon after purchasing, were approached by a land developer called Wigle, who bought the barn section of the property and converted it into a pleasant country home, bought in 1967 by world travellers Charlie and Joyce Perkins. Charlie Perkins was a well-known lawyer who served two terms as regional director.

So this little corner of real estate has celebrated a myriad of romances, among them Arthur and Katherine Harvey, Buck and Margaret Taylor, Charlie and Val Clark, Charlie and Joyce Perkins, and most recently, retired Mirror staffer Steve Arnett and wife Pam.

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Elida Peers is the historian of Sooke Region Museum.