A popular feature of the museum visit today, Moss Cottage is the oldest standing pioneer home west of Victoria. Built in 1869-70 by James Welsh for his bride, Mary Ellen Flynn, it was home to the couple for 10 years. James Welsh was connected to the pioneer Muir family and the cottage was built on Muir land.
Mary Ellen Welsh gave birth to six children over the next 10 years. When she passed away in 1880, the cottage was vacant for a time, and her surviving children brought up elsewhere. In 1902, Matilda Gordon, a daughter of Michael Muir, moved into the frame home after her husband Jack Gordon died of consumption.
After many years of changing times, the cottage stood in 1977 as a sad derelict, with the property up for sale. Owner Ernie Welsh kindly donated the historic cottage to the Sooke Region Historical Society, who relocated the building to the museum grounds.
Today visitors to the cottage are welcomed inside by our interpretive guide in the character of Matilda “Aunt Tilly” Gordon who is raising her two children, Alice and Harry, on her own, in 1902. Household tasks of the turn of the century are demonstrated by Aunt Tilly as she chats with visitors while bustling about her chores.