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Bringing history to life

Cougar Annie is brought to life through Katrina Kadoski in a presentation hosted by the Canadian Federation of University Women
Katrina Kadoski brings her one-woman play

The Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) Vernon branch is excited to bring history to life in a presentation featuring Katrina Kadoski in her one-woman play, Cougar Annie Tales, set for March 7 at 7 p.m. at the Schubert Centre.

Through song and narrative, Kadoski tells the story about Ada Annie Rae-Arthur who moved with her husband Willie and three young children in 1915 from Vancouver to Boat Basin, Vancouver Island, about a day’s row north of Tofino. It was all part of an effort to help Willie end his opium addiction. Annie’s father lent them money to build a house and Willie’s sister promised to send remittance of 10 sovereigns per month to keep Willie away from Vancouver.

By all accounts Willie was a gentle, educated Scot, from a well-to-do family in Glasgow. Annie, American-born daughter of a veterinarian, provided the brain and ambition needed to clear five acres out of the wilderness and build a home for their increasing number of children (11 children in all were born to her although only six survived to adulthood). She started a mail order bulb-growing business and convinced the federal government to open a post office at Boat Basin (she was almost always the only customer). When Willie drowned in 1936 she advertised for at least three new husbands in the Western Producer (they weren’t all good matches). She became known as Cougar Annie through her legendary marksmanship: she allegedly shot 70 cougars on her property, protecting her chickens and goats. She remained on the property until she was 95. The property was sold in 1985 and various attempts have been made to establish an ecological centre on it. Cougar Annie’s garden at Boat Basin can be visited today, via float plane from Tofino. Remnants of fruit trees remain, and even an old wooden wheelbarrow, slowly sinking back into the earth, shows the dedication and effort that were put into Cougar Annie’s garden.

Kadoski’s compelling presentation helps us understand what life must have been like for a person so determined to survive under extremely trying circumstances. The CFUW is proud to present another in its ongoing series of “Celebrating B.C. Women,” following successful presentations in 2016 by Jean Barman (“Indigenous Women and the French-Canadian fur trade”), Danette Boucher (“Lady Overlander”) and Julie Fowler (“Grande Dames of the Cariboo”).

Tickets are $15 in advance from CFUW members or $18 at the door. Proceeds go to supporting CFUW educational projects. Contact 250-545-6171 for ticket information. Co-sponsors Fairfield Inn and Suites and the Schubert Centre are gratefully acknowledged.

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