By 1905, Annie Jordan had already lived in California, South Africa and England before fetching up in Vancouver, aged 18. There she met and married Willie Rae-Arthur. Willie was from Scotland and a remittance man, the charming but notorious son of a wealthy family, paid by them to stay away. He obliged and his wealthy sister Isabella signed the monthly cheques from her castle south of Glasgow. Life was good.
But then came the war. Like so many Willie was traumatized by his part in it. He returned to father twins with Annie but he soon succumbed to Vancouver's notorious opium dens. The family valuables were going and money was scarce. Willie would disappear for days at a time.
Annie feels trapped. The rent is due. Unsavoury characters are calling. And then a chance meeting with a young indigenous woman changes everything. Matilda Mark tells Annie about land on the remote northwest coast of Vancouver Island, government land which is free to any family who will work it for five years. Annie is convinced she's found the answer to everything. Willie can only agree. He is wretched. But they need Isabella's help to get out of town.
Annie decides that Betsy, the eldest of five children at 16, will journey to Scotland on their behalf. And Betsy, appealing and intelligent, is a good ambassador. Isabella pledges to continue her support of the family and to finance their move.
Everybody sees that remote Refuge Cove may be the last chance to save the Rae-Arthur brood. For Annie it means freedom. But for all of them, it means challenges that none could imagine. How could they? Inspired by a true story. In development as a series for television with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Annie's World, A Sketch by Bruce Alcock
Developed with the participation of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and with assistance from the Canada Media Fund and the Newfoundland and Labrador Film Development Corporation