Posted by: cherylyoung | May 12, 2012


Ada Annie Rae-Arthur, later Ada Annie Lawson

 but better known as Cougar Annie,

 (June 19, 1888 – April 28, 1985) was a pioneer

 who settled near Hesquiat Harbour at Boat Basin

 in Clayoquot Sound on the west coast of

 Vancouver Island, Canada

Born Ada Annie Jordan in Sacramento, California,

she moved to the land where she was to live for

 more than 65 years from Vancouver,

British Columbia  in 1915 after having lived in

 England, South Africa and the Canadian prairies

 as a child.

She arrived with the first of her four husbands to

save him from an opium addiction and ensure that

 the remittance cheques that came from his family

 in Scotland would continue to arrive.

At the time she and her husband settled on the coast,

 they had three small children.

She gave birth to eight more children in this remote

 location. She acquired her nickname because of

 her famed marksmanship.

 She shot dozens of cougars during her long life.

After the death of her first husband, Willie Rae-

Arthur in 1936, she advertised in

The Western Producer saying “BC Widow with

 Nursery and orchard wishes partner.

Widower preferred. Object matrimony.” [1] The new

husband she chose from several candidates died at

 their home in 1944 of an accidental gunshot wound

 to the leg.

 One of the children ran to get Ada but she was too

 late as he had already bled out.

 The truth of this death was that he was cleaning

 his gun and didn’t realize that there was a cartridge

 still in the chamber.

 Her third husband was produced by the same

 advertisement, and after his death of Pneumonia

 in 1955, she ran another ad, this time seeking a

widower with young children.

Her own children having grown and moved off,

 she found a companion who stayed on with his

 children for a number of years before the

 remoteness of life in Boat Harbour drove him away.

 (This previous statement has never been verified

 by the family.)

 In 1961 Annie married for the fourth and last time.

 It was an unsuccessful marriage to a man, 12 years

 her junior, who drank, stole from the store and

 sometimes beat her.

 This man tried to run Annie off a cliff to get the

 farm but she was wilier than him and ran him

 off with her shotgun.

 When he left never to return around 1967, he was

 not missed.

In 1942, the lighthouse at Estevan Point was

 shelled by a Japanese submarine.

Annie claimed to have seen the submarine surface

 in the harbour before the lighthouse was shelled

 and to have found a shell on the beach in front

 of her land.

With little help, Annie cleared 5 acres (20,000 m2)

 of her land and planted a sprawling garden.

The garden was a source of income throughout her

 life, as she sold bulbs and plants by mail.

 She also operated a general store and post office

 from her plot of land. Another source of income

 over the years was a bounty offered for Cougars

 that ranged from $10 to $40.

The numbers of cats that she claimed to have killed

 continued to increase into her old age but in 1955

 she received bounties for 10 cats.

At that time she claimed to have killed 62 cougars

 and about 80 bears.

Killing cougars and bears was necessary because

 they preyed on the goats and chickens that she raised.

Her livelihood depended upon the regular visits of

 the Canadian Pacific Steamships Line Princess

 Maquinna that arrived every 10 days in Hequiat

 Harbour from 1913 to 1952 on her rounds from

 Victoria to Port Alice.

Annie rarely left the property where she lived until

 well into her nineties.

Ailing and mostly blind, she was removed to

 Port Alberni, where she died at the age of 97.

Peter Buckland, retired from a career as a Vancouver

stockbroker, had met Annie a number of times in

 her later years.

He recovered Cougar Annie’s garden.

 He has established the non-profit Boat Basin

 Foundation, which manages the garden and

 runs the Temperate Rainforest Field Study

 Centre which has been built on a ridge overlooking

 the garden.

 In 2007, the Hesquiaht First Nation and

Ecotrust Canada became stewardship partners in the


 It is possible to schedule inspiring educational

 visits and overnight stays at the garden by

 contacting the Boat Basin Foundation.

The foundation also provides regular updates on







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