As we dash out on the West Coast Road today, driving modern cars on a fine highway, it may be hard to imagine what the rugged trail route was like 114 years ago when John (26) and Andrew (24), the two elder sons of John Muir of Woodside took a wagon full of straw out to Muir Creek.
On the far side of Muir Creek, up the hill, the Muirs had a camp where they kept oxen for hauling logs. The two young Muir sons, perched on the seat of a wagon loaded with straw from their barn, had to cross the creek on a bridge of felled logs, reach the camp, unload and get back to Woodside before dark. They never made it.
Perhaps it was a cougar (panthers, they called them) that spooked the horses as they came down the hill on the trail, but something caused the accident. Late that night, when the dad John Muir and his youngest son Douglas went out looking with lanterns, they found, to their horror, the two brothers in the creek, necks broken from their fall.
The Victoria Daily Colonist of Friday January 4th 1901, carried this account: “Funeral Services. New Year’s Day, the funeral of John and Andrew Muir, the unfortunate young men who were killed in a runaway accident, took place from the family residence, Woodside Farm, Sooke, at 1:00 pm. At 3:00 o’clock, the family burying ground was reached and the bodies of both the young men were laid to rest in the same grave. The Reverend J Robertson of Grand Forks, B.C., formerly the missionary at Sooke, read the Church of England services.
A large number of beautiful floral offerings were given, and a great many friends from Victoria and Otter Point were present. The pallbearers for John Muir were: Joseph Poirier, Percy Clark, James Poirier, D A Fraser, Edward Clark and William Charters. The pallbearers for Andrew Muir were: William Muir, Curtis Muir, Henry Helgesen, Alexander Helgesen, Adolphus Poirier and William Burnett.”
The photo shows young John Muir at age 15 with his dad; we don’t have a photo of Andrew in our collection. This 2015 New Years Day, we feel sure that Woodside, the oldest continuously-operated farm in British Columbia, currently owned by the Glinz/Wilford family, will have a much happier time.
Sooke Region Museum