Cougar Annie

It was 1902 in Vancouver when young Annie Jordan met and married Willie Rae-Arthur, the dashing son of a wealthy Scottish clan, paid by his family to stay away. Willie obliged, and his wealthy sister Isabella signed the monthly cheques from her castle outside Glasgow. By 1912 there were five children. Despite Willie’s inability to keep a job (and his propensity for the gambling tables) life was good. Annie had the ability to turn her hand at everything from selling Pomeranians out the back door to keeping chickens.  She ran a tight ship. And Annie loved her man above all.  

But then came the First World War. Upon his return Willie was consumed by guilt and trauma. He had been a Captain, and a hero, adored by his men, but he could no longer sleep. He soon succumbed to Chinatown’s opium dens. Two years later, in 1920, most of the family valuables have been sold off, the maid has been let go, the rent is 3 months late. Isabella’s cheque is spent before it arrives. Betsy, 17, sees her future disappearing. Douglas, 16, wishes Willie had never returned. Alfred, 13, has stopped speaking. The little ones run wild.

And then a meeting with a young indigenous woman changes everything. Mary March is only 17 but she’s smart and ambitious. Her father Ned doesn’t want her to talk to these white people, but he changes his mind when he hears Willie’s name.  Captain Rae-Arthur treated his Native regiment with respect overseas. The Marches are Hesquiaht Nation and they live in Clayoquot Sound on Vancouver Island. Here there is government land free to any family who will work it. Ten acres of land, a sandy cove, a log cabin. Annie believes she has found the answer. Willie can only agree. But they need money to make this move. Betsy offers to go to Scotland to plead their case with Aunt Isabella. But they hadn’t counted on the effect Isabella’s Cloncaird Castle might have… Must Annie make the move without her right-hand girl?  The stage is set for conflict and confrontation. The move to the coastal wild can’t be stopped and the future holds challenges that none could have possibly foreseen.  

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