As the Harpooner, a barque ship, made its way up the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Ann Muir looked out from the deck and gazed at the shores of Whiffin Spit. It would be the perfect spot for a home, she thought. Matriarch Ann Miller Muir, and her husband, four sons and daughter, were one of the first pioneer families in Sooke.
Ann Muir, circa 1870.
Settling in fellow Scot Captain Walter Colquhoun Grant’s holdings, it was Ann who we have to thank for the spread of Scottish broom. She saved the Captain’s bushes from destruction, as they reminded her of home. Soon Sooke was known for its masses of brilliant yellow blossoms in early summer.
Ann was known locally as “Grandma”. She had formed a good relationship with local First Nations groups. After the T’Sou-ke Nation had gone to war, they would gift skulls of their defeated enemies to Ann. It was considered a very high honor to receive this gift. When Ann fell ill in old age, the T’Sou-ke peoples brought gifts of fish, baskets, herbs or wild game.
When Ann passed in 1875, she was the first to be laid to rest in the Muir family cemetery. At her funeral, the procession of mourners was more than a kilometer and a half long. Ann always emphasized the importance of education for her children. The family undertakings were left to the next generations of educated and entrepreneurial Muirs.