Mary Ann Brulé Vautrin is often called the “Grandmother of the Pacific” for her significant role in the settlement of Sooke. Mary Ann’s children and grandchildren formed the nucleus of early Sooke and Otter Point populations.
Mary Ann’s story began in the Willamette Valley of Oregon where she was born in 1837. By 1850, she had a family, and had recently completed Sister’s convent school. The signing of the Oregon Treaty four years earlier had resulted in a new border at the 49th parallel. As a result of this, Mary Ann and her family decided to travel north to remain with the “Crown”. They left for the “promised land” with her husband and their two infant children by wagon train.
In the March of 1851, Mary Ann arrived in a settlement close to the village of the T’Sou-ke First Nation in Sooke. Her mother Marguerite had origins in the T’Sou-ke Nation, so it was natural that they settled where they did. They had hardly touched down, when Mary Ann was ready to give birth again.
At the time, it was typical for the men and women of the Hudson’s Bay Company to marry in the areas they worked. Before long a new community soon developed along the Sooke River’s east bank.
The Sooke Story, 1999
Mary Ann Vautrin was a busy mother and homemaker, who endured the sorrow of losing children at birth or through illness, but she managed to bring in income for the family. Some accounts mention her piling bark at the local Muir sawmill.