A Vancouver Island legend is being brought back to life when the musical drama Cougar Annie Tales is presented at Lorenzo’s Café as part of a B.C.-wide tour, Sunday.
California-born Ada Annie Jordan settled in the Clayoquot coastal rainforest in 1915 with her first husband and three young children.
A five-acre garden that she carved out of the wilderness provided food and income throughout her long life. The bounty on cougars supplemented her income and she earned her moniker of Cougar Annie by reputedly shooting more than 70 of the animals.
Jordan gave birth to eight more children in this remote location, and rarely left the property until old age and blindness forced her removal to Port Alberni, where she died just shy of 97.
Katrina Kadoski spent close to three years at Cougar Annie’s garden, immersing herself in the folklore surrounding the legendary pioneer-settler.
“When the position for a caretaking couple at Cougar Annie’s garden and field study center became available, I immediately knew this was going to be one of the most interesting and creative experiences of my life,” said Kadoski, adding, “It was quite something to get to live that way, walking in her footsteps: wood stove, off the grid, writing tons of songs. After a few years I had a really hard time coming back to baseboard heat and traffic lights.”
With support from Victoria’s Intrepid Theatre, Kadoski’s critically acclaimed one-woman show Cougar Annie Tales has been touring around B.C.
The audience pick at the Victoria Fringe Festival in 2012, the show draws upon many sources including Annie’s family, images, letters, and original compositions to celebrate the unconventional life of one of B.C.’s most colourful local characters.
“I’m always on the search for stories and those old photos,” said Kadoski. “Cougar Annie Tales seems to evolve as I learn more from different people I meet and places that I go.”
Cougar Annie Tales will be presented at Lorenzo’s, 901 Mabel Lake Rd., east of Enderby, Sunday. Dinner is at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. Cover is $10. Call 250-838-6700 to reserve a seat.