It was the Scottish pioneer John Muir family who became leaders of the Sooke community after their arrival in 1851. They built a home they called Woodside and established the first successfully operated steam sawmill in the new colony in 1855.
The family also purchased the property of Sooke’s first immigrant settler, Captain Walter Colquhoun Grant, 100 acres overlooking Sooke Harbour, and it was on this land that Sooke’s first cemetery, Muirside, was established.
Ann Miller Muir, matriarch of the Muir family, was the first of the family to pass away, in 1875. She was buried with a grave marker of sandstone, near a meandering brook with birds singing in the leafy boughs overhead.
Before long Ann Muir’s grave had been joined by that of Mary Ellen Welsh of Moss Cottage, and two of her babies. Eventually almost fifty graves were counted on the small parcel of land, with the last, that of Emma Welsh, in 1969.
While the cemetery was well-kept in its early history, in later years it fell into disrepair, and with changed ownership of the land, it suffered serious vandalism.
Eventually, with the assistance of the Sooke Lions Club, the Sooke Community Association and other service organizations, and a great deal of volunteer work and public fund-raising, the Sooke Region Historical Society was able to open it as a public park in 2001.
Now a designated Regional Heritage site, the park project was recognized in 2004 by the Victoria Hallmark Society with an Award of Merit, and with an Outstanding Achievement Award by the British Columbia Heritage Society. The park is located at 1971 Maple Avenue.
In 2014, the Museum officially handed over the ownership of the park to the District of Sooke.