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

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police will be out in force to target drunk drivers this weekend as part of ICBC’s annual CounterAttack campaign. (Contributed - ICBC)
Police launch Christmas CounterAttack this weekend

On average, 11 people are killed in crashes involving impaired driving on the Island every year

Victoria police arrested a man in a Yates Street grocery store Nov. 27 after he refused to wear a mask. (Black Press Media File photo)
Belligerent man arrested in Victoria grocery store after refusing to wear mask

Officers fined the man $230 under the COVID-19 Related Measures Act

A 43-year-old woman is facing charges for impaired driving and leaving the scene of a crash after attempting to flee from police by driving down the beach in front of the Oak Bay Marina on Nov. 23. (Oak Bay Police/Twitter)
Victoria woman drives over seawall onto beach near Oak Bay Marina

Driver faces charges for fleeing crash, refusing breathalyzer test

Friends with Dorothy opens in Victoria.
LGBT2Q+ lounge Friends with Dorothy opens second location in Victoria

The Kelowna-based lounge plans to open in Victoria mid-December

Sig
Traffic delays expected on Monday from highway construction in Sooke

Single-lane alternating traffic between Otter Road and Caldwell Road

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks along the seawall in North Vancouver Wednesday, November 25, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
911 new COVID-19 cases, 11 deaths as B.C. sees deadliest week since pandemic began

Hospitalizations reach more than 300 across the province

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Freighter anchored off Kin Beach in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)
MP to host expert panel for virtual town hall on freighter anchorages issue

Residents can participate through MacGregor’s website or Facebook page Dec. 3

Most Read