Local Sooke musician and artist Katrina Kadoski is back in town as Cougar Annie this June 22 at the Sooke Harbour House.
This is Kadoski’s second year as a one-woman multi-media show telling the epic and colourful story of Vancouver Island’s most iconic and legendary pioneers, Ada Annie Jordan – know to all simply as Cougar Annie.
Jordan, originally from California, settled in the Clayoquot rainforest on the Island in 1915 with her first husband and three young children.
Working as a caretaker for several years at Cougar Annie’s garden, Kadoski immersed herself in the folklore surrounding the legendary pioneer. Soon enough, she began writing songs about Jordan’s inspiring life experiences and about the garden.
“It kind gets into your bones,” Kadoski said. “It’s a wonderful way to tell a story, and as a performer, that’s really satisfying for me to have an avenue to storytell, write songs and emote characters.”
The upcoming performance includes new material, such as new photos, new dialogue and a new prop, but its historical significance remains unchanged, as Kadoski spent several years doing research to make the story as authentic as possible. She then plays songs, which are interwoven between dramatic narrative.
“Her [Cougar Annie] tenacity and her will to survive against almost impossible odds and to never give up is remarkable … her motto was, ‘oh well, could be worse,’” Kadoski said, adding this was a huge inspiration and mantra for her, which she follows to this day. “So many of her bad days were worse than any bad day. It puts things into perspective for me when I’m having a bad day.”
Jordan managed to carve herself out a two-hectare garden into the wilderness, which provided food and income well into her later life.
She earned her famous moniker by shooting more than 70 cougars, which was also a source of income, as many of her kills were bounties placed on the animals by locals.
The wilderness didn’t seem to bother her much, as she managed to give birth to and raise eight more children in this remote location.
It is said that Jordan rarely left the property, and was only forced out due to old age and blindness to Port Alberni, where she died just shy of 97 in 1985.
Cougar Annie Tales will take place at the Sooke Harbour House (1528 Whiffen Spit Rd.) on Thursday (June 22) at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 at the door. For info, call 250-885-7100 or 250-642-3421.