In 2007, Katrina Kadoski was thrust into the world of Ada Annie Jordan, better known as Cougar Annie.
Kadoski became one of the caretakers of the settler’s early 1900s homestead on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
While working there for three years and learning about the impressive woman, Kadoski began putting what she learned to song.
That became the seed of Kadoski’s one-woman show, depicting the wild life of Cougar Annie — a woman so-named for having shot more than 70 of the animals, in part for the bounty on them.
Kadoski’s show, Cougar Annie Tales, will be performed at the MAC on Saturday, Oct. 14, and touches on many of her exploits.
The show focuses on Annie in her old age, recalling parts of her life to a personal caretaker. The story is helped along by photos and letters projected onto a screen, along with sound and music.
The show came out of the songs Kadoski began to write while living at Annie’s homestead, which she would perform for visitors.
Kadoski has been performing her full show since 2012. It won the audience favourite Pick of the Fringe award in 2012 at Victoria’s Fringe Fest.
Asked what audiences like so much about the show, and what got Kadoski interested in Annie’s story, Kadoski said it’s the call of the wild.
“I think that in today’s age, there is a small part of people that really long for a sense of wildness, and I think it’s her wildness that draws us,” she said. “And it’s ironic, really, because the settlers were going to tame the wild, and they ended up becoming wild themselves.”
That transformation is evident in Annie’s case, said Kadoski.
“She was this civilized city woman who ended up shooting cougars in the middle of the night with a kerosene lamp and a Winchester .30-30,” she said. One night, when she couldn’t find her gun, Annie chased a cougar out of her chicken coop with a two-by-four, or so one story goes, said Kadoski.
“(Annie) ended up having a reputation for having hands like a logger,” she added. “Somebody told me that, if she found a mouse, she would actually pick it up and crush its head between her thumb and forefinger.”
But the change in this “civilized city woman” didn’t always show itself that dramatically.
“If you ever see a picture of her, there’s a very strange wild look in her eyes,” said Kadoski. “She almost looks like she has, like, an animal instinct.”
Asked whether she thought that was due to being away from civilization and out in the wild for so long, Kadoski said it wasn’t just that.
“I think it comes from a fierceness. I think it’s partly living in the wild, but I think it’s more the determination to stay, and all the reasons behind that determination.”
Asked how she feels about portraying Cougar Annie, Kadoski said, “It’s an honour to carry a story like that. I feel honoured to get to channel that energy and be the one that’s helping to keep that history alive.”
Kadoski’s musical tribute to Cougar Annie takes place Oct. 14 at 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.) at the MAC in Parksville.
Tickets are $15 in advance or $18 at the door.
For tickets and more info, call 250-248-8185.