It’s the story of one inspirational pioneer carving out a life in the wild, and it’s coming to life on stage.
Cougar Annie Tales, a one-woman show performed by Katrina Kadoski exploring the life of Ada Annie Jordan, better known as the pioneer Cougar Annie, is coming to the Shatford Centre on Nov. 17.
Kadoski has been performing the musically-based ode to the local legend for two years, but her connection with the famed settler goes further back.
Kadoski was living in Victoria when she got a job working as a caretaker for a non-profit organization which looked after the area now referred to as Cougar Annie’s garden on the West coast of Vancouver Island. An area only accessible by float plane or boat, setting the stage for a surreal time in Kadoski’s life.
“It was a really interesting experience. There’s not a lot to do out there. It’s off the grid in the middle of nowhere. You can walk in the forest and walk on the beach,” Kadoski said.
She stayed at the garden for three years and during that time wrote songs inspired by the tales of Cougar Annie.
“Pretty much the week we moved there I started getting song ideas,” Kadoski said.
Kadoski was inspired by the nearly untouched nature, but the solitude as well. Something that helped her identify with Cougar Annie.
“I think I really fell in love with the place itself. It was such an interesting journey to go to such a wild place and spend that much time away from people,” said Kadoski. “I think that’s what connected me most because she was out there for 70 years,”
Cougar Annie, best known for making a living with her large collection of bounties on cougars in the area, made a home in the middle of nowhere for her family, one that lives on today. The sheer toughness and spirit Annie showed was another motivation for Kadoski to tell her story.
“Her worst day is so much worse than my worst day has ever been, and I feel that story needs to be told sometimes,” Kadoski said.
Kadoski’s journeys with her show have taken her as far as Winnipeg where she had heard of a relative of Cougar Annie who had a suitcase full of historical mementos.
She supported the Winnipeg trip by playing shows in independent senior care centres. She eventually located the great grandson of Cougar Annie and the suitcase which contained photos and letters which are now incorporated in her performance.
“Stuff like that keeps showing up now. People will come to the show and will have these amazing photographs of her or of something from the area that really pertains to the story,” said Kadoski. “It’s taken on a bit of a life of its own.”
Audience members and fans have been adding to the show since its inception and it has now become a living piece of history for Kadoski.
“I’m continually tweaking the show and making it different as people tell me different stories I’ll work it in to the script,” Kadoski said. “It’s sort of an ongoing work of history.”
Tickets for Cougar Annie Tales will be $15 in advance and $18 at the door. For more information or to purchase tickets call 250-770-7768.