With the many changes taking place on Maple Avenue South these days, we’re taking note of the way the corner of Maple Avenue and “Sooke Way,” now West Coast Road, looked in 1900.
The part of the Michael Muir farm, Burnside House, which was recently bought by Andy Barry of Barry Marine and moved slightly on the property to serve as an office building, is barely visible now from Maple Avenue.
In this 1900 view, the scene appears to be the house’s foreground; members of the Muir family are shown with six head of horses, a wagon load of oats and a threshing machine.
Burnside House was built in 1884 as home for Michael Muir and his wife Matilda (Welsh) Muir, and their daughters.
In the family of John and Ann Muir Senior, it was Michael, the youngest son, who was the businessman, marketing the lumber and farm produce.
Brother Robert Muir and his wife Christina lived on the east side of Maple, near Caldwell, in a stately home called Springside, which was torn down long ago.
Further west on West Coast Road, Woodside, also built in 1884, was the home of John Muir Jr., and his wife Annie Welsh Muir. It still stands today, near the large red-roofed barn surrounded by hay fields.
Originally all the Muirs lived at Woodside after their arrival here in 1851.
With the passing of Michael Muir and then his son-in-law Jack Gordon in the early 1900s, the Burnside property was held by another son-in-law Adam Ross and A.H. Peatt of Colwood.
W. E. Fox owned the property from 1909 to the mid-1940s. Among the early occupants that leased from Fox were the B.C. Canning Company, William Welsh, and in the 1930s, Harry Vogel, who operated a riding stable. Among later renters were the Matthews, Bells, and the Bill Vowles family.
As the house stood sadly vacant from time to time, youngsters in the area began to call it the haunted house.
George and Betty Duncan became the owners after the Second World War. George was in the logging industry and hauled Douglas-fir to the Helgesen Mill. Since then, Burnside House has had a variety of well-known owners and renovations and continues to develop an interesting history.
Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.