Islanders rally for Cougar Annie

Rainforest study centre on garden site

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By ANDREW HAIGH

DRIFTWOOD CONTRIBUTOR

Cougar Annie’s Garden, an amazing five-acre garden at the head of Hesquiat Harbour in the heart of Clayoquot Sound, is opening for a series of six to eight back-to-back fundraising trips in late June and July. Salt Spring has been given the first chance to book these trips because so many Salt Springers have helped to preserve this magical place over the last decade.

Ada Annie Rae-Arthur came to Boat Basin in Vancouver Island’s Clayoquot Sound, as a pioneer settler to make a new life for herself and her family in the early 1900s. She set to work clearing the land on her remote homestead which is accessible only by sea. A garden of strange, meandering beauty slowly emerged from the deep rainforest. Cougars prowled nearby, sensing easy prey. Ada Annie trapped and shot scores of them and became known as Cougar Annie, one of B.C.’s most famous pioneers.

Wily and ingenious, for decades she ran a mail order nursery garden, a general store and a post office from her wilderness home. She bore eight of her 11 children at Boat Basin and outlasted and outworked four husbands. She left her garden in 1983 at the age of 95.

Against all odds, this garden has been restored, maintained and still blooms in the wilderness. Far from any town, this bush garden stands as a reminder of the courage of Canadian settlers like Cougar Annie who overcame immense challenges to raise their families and live out their dreams. Volunteers with the Boat Basin Foundation currently maintain the garden, many of them travelling from Salt Spring over the years to put in hours of maintenance and upkeep.

This summer’s trips are being organized by the Boat Basin Foundation as a fundraiser to keep the garden and facilities going. By doing multiple trips, flight costs from Tofino can be reduced and the prices for these trips become the lowest the foundation has been able to offer.

Each trip can take 12 people and range from three to seven nights. Participants will sleep two per cabin in one of the six beautiful, cedar cabins, complete with unique, private outhouses, which are part of the Temperate Rainforest Field Study Centre, which is located on the hillside behind the garden. The surrounding area has 800- to 1,000-year-old trees, fantastic shore, beach and trail walking, artistic boardwalks through the forests and vistas everywhere you look.

Tax receipts will be issued for a portion of each trip. To learn more, and to see pictures of the garden and study centre, please visit boatbasin.org. To participate in these trips, and get the discounted fundraising prices, call Andrew Haigh at 250-538-0185 or email to ahaigh@uniserve.com.

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