Ann Miller Muir's gravestone.

Cemetery has long history

A short history of the cemetery at Millennium Park

In 1875 matriarch Ann Miller Muir was the first member of Sooke’s pioneer immigrant families to pass away. She was buried on family property, in a leafy glade alongside a meandering creek. Her gravestone, carved by stonemason Jonas Throup from sandstone found on the Sooke bluffs, was carried to the site by oxcart.

In time, dozens of graves of Muir family members and friends were placed alongside hers. For many years the cemetery, which was called Muirside, was maintained by family members but time and land developments changed that, and a century later it appeared sadly neglected. The first restoration project was undertaken by the Sooke Lions. Without ownership of the land, however, care and control could not be maintained.

In 1999 the Sooke Region Historical Society established a community committee to work towards raising funds to purchase the land. By the year 2000, generous contributors had provided enough donations to complete the land purchase of a little over an acre. The land portion, extending from the Maple Avenue frontage back to enclose the cemetery boundaries, came under the ownership of the Sooke Region Historical Society.

Through widespread community generosity the cemetery was retrieved from the overgrown morass of saplings, blackberry vines and weeds that had hidden the grave markers from view. Foremost among the organizations that helped make it all possible were the hardworking volunteers of the Sooke Lions Club and the Sooke Community Association. Interpretive signage and heritage exhibits were developed and a grand opening of the park took place on May 6, 2001. The acreage “Sooke Millennium Memorial Park” was designated a Regional Heritage site.

In 2004, the project led to the Heritage Society of British Columbia honouring the Sooke Region Historical Society with an Award of Outstanding Achievement.