SOOKE HISTORY: Muir barn a Sooke landmark for 55 years

The barn, built by Robert Muir and his sons, stood between Caldwell and Sheilds roads

The decades-long usefulness of the Muir barn came to an abrupt end when one night in 1958 when it was destroyed by fire. (Sooke Region Museum photo)

The decades-long usefulness of the Muir barn came to an abrupt end when one night in 1958 when it was destroyed by fire. (Sooke Region Museum photo)

Elida Peers | Contributed

With all the discussions today on planned developments, this photo shows a barn that was a downtown Sooke landmark from 1895 up through the 1950s and demonstrates the contrast in cultures from one century to the next.

The Muir barn, built by Robert Muir and his sons, stood between Caldwell and Sheilds roads, remaining in use until 1958 when it burned to the ground.

Robert Muir was one of the sons of John Muir and Ann Miller Muir who arrived in the new colony of Vancouver’s Island from Ayrshire, Scotland, in 1849.

ALSO READ: How Sooke’s downtown core developed

With the pioneering Muir parents were their four sons and a daughter; they were to become one of the foremost immigrant families and industry leaders on the Island in the early years.

After a brief stint indentured with the Hudson’s Bay Company at Fort Rupert, the Muirs took up land in Sooke in 1851 and bought Capt. Walter Colquhoun Grant’s holdings, when he left the settlement in 1853.

The eldest Muir son, Andrew, became Victoria sheriff, while the younger sons John, Robert and Michael each developed their own fine Sooke homes in 1884 after they married.

Robert Muir built the two-storied home of Springside for his wife Christina Stephen and their children, building this barn closer to the main road (now Highway 14). In this 1928 photo, the Springside mansion had been dismantled, but the barn, owned by his sons at the time, remained in use.

In time, the Muirs no longer used the barn fields, and they became hayfields for Ernie Welsh. Later still, Geoff Vantreight of Saanich used the fields for the production of daffodil and tulip bulbs.

The decades-long usefulness of the Muir barn came to an abrupt end when one night in 1958, it burst into flames. The guys in the Sooke Volunteer Fire Department and their wives celebrated the completion of their brand new fire hall on Sooke Road (across from today’s Sooke Home Hardware) with a dance in the upstairs of the fire hall when it happened.

We’ve heard that apparently someone was miffed that they hadn’t been able to get into the dance and decided that they’d cut short the evening’s festivities for the firemen as well.


Historian Elida Peers writes for the Sooke Region Museum.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

historySookeWest Shore

Just Posted

Processed sewage is still being deposited at the Hartland landfill rather than sent as biosolids to a Richmond cement plant. (Black Press Media file photo)
Biosolids at Hartland still being placed on landfill in Saanich

Richmond cement plant up and running, but CRD end product not suitable for purpose

An SUV sits where it crashed through the front window of the 2:18 Run store in Fairfield Plaza, after the driver appeared to lose control on Monday afternoon. (Photo by Phil Nicholls)
Driver crashes through front window of Victoria running store in Fairfield

Phil Nicholls of 2:18 Run said crash sounded like an earthquake at first

Seismic upgrading and expansion work at Victoria High School is about a year behind due to pandemic-related factors, the Greater Victoria School District announced. (Photo by Cole Descoteau)
Victoria High School seismic work, expansion a year behind schedule

Greater Victoria School District now targeting September 2023 for reopening of historic school

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes following provincial reopening announcement

Recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Elk Lake Drive area resident Michael Blayney protests a proposed multi-building development for his Royal Oak neighbourhood, outside Saanich municipal hall on Monday (June 14). (Photo by Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Demonstrators protest 11-storey development on Elk Lake Drive in Saanich

Saanich locals gather at municipal hall to protest development, public hearing goes Tuesday

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

Most Read