Pioneer: Isabella Weir Muir

Elida Peers writes about the history of the Sooke region

Isabella Weir became the young bride of Andrew Muir. Their brief life together ended in sad circumstances.

Isabella Weir became the young bride of Andrew Muir. Their brief life together ended in sad circumstances.

Founding pioneers in Sooke  faced tragedy

 

One could hardly have a name more significant to early Vancouver Island immigrant history than to be both a Muir and a Weir. Muir Creek instantly comes to mind, as does Weir’s Beach.

Scottish John Muir, his wife Ann Miller Muir and four sons, Andrew, John, Robert and Michael, arrived in Victoria aboard the Hudson’s Bay Company vessel Harpooner in 1849. Two years later, after a period of time with the Hudson’s Bay Company working with coal on the north east coast of Vancouver Island, the family had settled in Sooke.  It is the initial Muir family holdings that we know today as Woodside Farm, on West Coast Road as one drives beyond downtown Sooke.

Robert Weir, also a Scot, arrived in Victoria aboard the Hudson’s Bay Company’s barque Norman Morison in January 1853. A widower, he was accompanied by several children including his 16-year-old daughter Isabella.  A year later the young girl was to become the bride of Andrew, eldest son of the Muirs.

While three of the Muir sons settled quietly with their parents in Sooke in 1851, Andrew appeared to be more restless of spirit, and looking for a more cosmopolitan life in what was then called Fort Victoria.  He met the young girl from Scotland, Isabella, whose photo (above) had been taken before she set sail for her five-month long ocean journey to the new world.

It was no surprise that a marriage followed, and the two were able to enjoy a very brief life together before tragedy struck them.

Isabella died in 1856, leaving a newborn babe. Meanwhile, that was also the year that Andrew had been appointed to the positions of Sheriff of Victoria and the first Sergeant of Arms of the first House of Assembly.

While the Muir baby, also called Isabella, was brought up by her relatives, the grief was too much for Andrew, and reports tell us a very sad story, that he took to drink and passed away alone in a Victoria hotel room in 1859.

 

Elida Peers,

Historian

Sooke Region Museum