In 1915, Ada Annie and Willie Rae-Arthur, together with their three children, moved to Boat Basin, 34 miles northwest of Tofino. They eventually cleared five acres of rainforest and were deeded 117 acres. During this process, Ada Annie bore eight more children and established a mail-order nursery garden. She trapped and shot cougars for additional income and became known as Cougar Annie.
After most of the Rae-Arthur family moved away, around 1950, the garden began to revert back to rainforest. Cougar Annie left her beloved garden for the last time in 1983, at the age of 95. In 1998, Boat Basin Foundation was established as a charitable organization to own and maintain the property for future generations, to continue the garden restoration process that commenced in 1981, and to encourage appreciation and education in temperate rainforest ecology.
Today the garden consists of a five-acre clearing, criss-crossed with over two kilometres of meandering pathways and dotted with outbuildings that once housed goats and chickens. Resurrected from a tangle of salal, Scotch broom, and salmonberry, this garden has endured for one hundred years.
The survival and the continuity of the garden make it an important heritage site. No other pioneer homestead in Clayoquot Sound remains in private hands; no other garden of this scope exists on the West Coast.
Seth Cosmo Burton, Salt Spring Island knifemaker, founder of Cosmos Design and multiple visitor to Boat Basin, has created a limited edition of 'Cougar Annie Centennial knife'. A generous portion of sale proceeds will be donated to Boat Basin Foundation.
The knife design is based upon the Scandinavian bushcraft knife used over the past three decades in the process of the restoration of Cougar Annie's Garden.
Please visit www.cosmoknives.com for a description of the knife-making process, products offered by Cosmos Knives and for more details of the Cougar Annie Centennial Knife.