It was a beautiful day with the sun shining as the Woodside Farm film committee met at Muirside cemetery on Maple Avenue last week.
The early crimson blossoms on the historic Hawthorne tree were bursting into view, welcoming two of our Muir family descendants who had joined us to speak of their Muir history, Valerie Braunschweig and Patricia Timms.
It was 1875 when the burial site was established, as the time had come that the family matriarch, Ann Miller Muir passed, and this leafy bower on Muir-held property was chosen.
John Muir, Sr. and his wife Ann Miller Muir bought Section III (now on West Coast Road encompassing Woodside farm) when they arrived at Sooke with their family in 1851, putting up a primitive pioneer structure for shelter.
In the late 1800s the scene above was the property of their son Robert Muir, and eventually his parcel was subdivided many times over. In time, prospering, three of John and Ann’s sons built fine new homes in Sooke: In 1884, John Muir, Jr. built Woodside, Robert Muir built Springside (gone now, it stood just east of the pictured burial site), and Michael Muir built Burnside, which faced the harbour and can still be seen west through the trees next to Barry Marine on Maple Avenue.
The two ladies pictured are cousins, and are descended from Michael Muir and his wife Matilda Welsh. Michael Muir was the businessman of the family, in charge of marketing the lumber from the Muir sawmill, the family’s farm produce, and shipbuilding.
Michael and Matilda Muir raised five daughters at Burnside. Their eldest, Marion, born in 1866, married Adam Ross, who was employed near Goldstream, in the period when the powers of that day were developing the early water systems that were being planned to serve the city of Victoria.
In the era of the pioneering Muirs, it was not unusual for mothers to succumb in childbirth, and so it was for Marion and Adam Ross. The young couple had a son, Thomas, and in 1890, after she gave birth to a daughter, Marion Muir Ross passed away.
Both Patricia Timms and Valerie Braunschweig are granddaughters of that same Thomas Ross, and great-great-granddaughters of Michael and Matilda Muir of historic Burnside.
Elida Peers is the historian of Sooke Region Museum.