Moss Cottage before it was moved to the Sooke Region Museum site.

Moss Cottage moved from original site

Moss Cottage was a home to many families over the years

The trimly kept whitewashed cottage seen at the museum on Phillips Road today is scarcely recognizable as the image in the 1976 photo below.  Moss Cottage originally stood on the grounds where the Baptist Church now serves its congregation.

Built in 1869/70 by James Welsh for his new bride Mary Ellen Flynn, the cottage faced towards the initial pioneer structure of Woodside, home of John Muir, Sr. and his wife Ann Miller. When a road to Sooke was built in 1872, it stopped at the gates of Woodside. One of Sooke’s earliest settlers, James Welsh, kin to the Muirs, had 10 happy years at Moss Cottage, but when Mary Ellen died in childbirth in 1880, his world fell apart.

Of the four surviving Welsh children, the eldest daughter, Esther, was brought up in Victoria, and became Mrs. Moore. Son Willie was raised by his Muir relatives, while daughter Anne went to the Order of the Sisters of St. Ann in Victoria where she eventually became Sister Mary Mildred, Mother Provincial. It is understood that another child was adopted by a nurse and taken to Chicago.

William Welsh grew up to become an upstanding Sooke citizen and several generations of Welshes have taken their place in Sooke’s developing world. His eldest son Ernie Welsh, owner of Moss Cottage at the time this photo was taken, gave the pioneer home to the museum, and it was dismantled, moved to Phillips Road and restructured in 1977.

Today, tours of Moss Cottage allow visitors to see the lifestyle of 1902, when the cottage was home to another Muir kin, Matilda, a daughter of Michael Muir of Burnside. Married to an English immigrant, Jack Gordon, Matilda had moved into the little cottage on the farm when her husband had died of consumption.

Vacant in the 1930s, after it was no longer needed by the Gordons, Moss Cottage has provided shelter in turn, to many immigrant families. Hugh and Olive Wadams, Don and Gladys Lowe, Henk and Anne Van Ek, Jack and Allie Perestam, Adrian and Kay Koolman, Fred and Jean Newman and Rocky and Jean Jackson had all been tenants prior to the building standing sad and forlorn.

Elida Peers

Historian, Sooke Region Museum

Just Posted

No last minute reprieve for Sooke’s Tin Grotto

Sooke council sticks to its guns regarding “the eyesore” on Otter Point Road

Saanich mom on a bike turned away in Tim Hortons drive-thru

Car-free for years, Charity Millar ‘felt gross’ being denied service

West Shore RCMP spend four hours searching for roving hikers

RCMP say stay put once you’ve called for help and listen to instructions

WestShore Town Centre adds sensory-sensitive approach to photos with Santa

Limited reservations available on Dec. 15 and 22 from 10 to 11 a.m.

Grease fire in Saanich prompts reminder to have proper fire extinguisher on hand

One woman was involved in the incident and treated on-scene for smoke inhalation

12 Sooke events to get you into the holiday spirit

From a Santa parade to classicial music, Sooke has it all

B.C. man gets 23 years for murder of Belgian tourist near Boston Bar

Sean McKenzie pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of 28-year-old Amelie Christelle Sakkalis

‘Very disrespectful’: B.C. first responder irked by motorists recording collisions on cellphones

Central Cariboo Search and Rescue deputy chief challenges motorists to break the habit

Daily cannabis linked to reduction in opioid use: B.C. researchres

Researchers looked at a group of 1,152 people in Vancouver who reported substance use and chronic pain

Port Alberni rallies for mill workers

Fundraisers helping ease the sting of five months without work

Island student lobbies school board for dress code consistency

Jaylene Kuo contacted school trustees after seeing dress guidelines at brother’s school

Bids down, costs up on Highway 1, B.C. independent contractors say

Rally protests NDP government’s union-only public construction

Members of little people community applaud change to drop ‘midget’ term

‘It’s not about sensitivity,’ says Allan Redford, the president of the Little People of Canada

Most Read