Back in 1998, members of the Royal Canadian Legion noticed that a grave marker for one of their fallen comrades has fallen and was in a state of disrepair in the old Muir family cemetery on Maple Avenue. Vandals had destroyed a number of gravestones while rubble and weeds filled in the spaces between the grave sites. A chain link fence which was erected in the 1970s was torn down and the whole area was neglected and all but forgotten.
The Sooke Region Museum and locals were struggling with ways to restore the graveyard as a way of honouring the early pioneers in the Sooke region. The historically significant graveyard was important. It contained the burial site for the Muir family and contained the hand-carved headstone for Ann Miller Muir.
The land was originally part of the first 100 acre parcel purchased by an immigrant settler, Captain Walter Colqohoun Grant, arriving on the shores of the new colony of Vancouver Island in 1849. When Grant left the new colony in December 1853, the land was taken up by the John and Ann Muir family in 1849.
“This was once a place of respect. It was held in the highest esteem by the early families, but times change things,” said Elida Peers of the former state of the graveyard, as she recounted the history leading up to the celebration of the opening of the park in May, 2001.
The Muir family cemetery was located on 4.5 acres of property in the Agricultural Land Reserve privately owned by Bob Sinon. Sinon agreed to sell the land to the Sooke Region Museum for $95,000 if the remainder of the site could be subdivided. In 1999 an application was made to remove the land from the ALR and the cemetery was renamed the Sooke Millennium Memorial Park on 2.5 acres.
On June 2, the Sooke Region Museum will be handing over the memorial park to the District of Sooke. Peers stated that it was becoming more difficult each year for the volunteers to manage and maintain the park and it was best to allow the district to take it from here.