In 1915, the pioneer settler known as Cougar Annie arrived on the west coast in Hesquiat Harbour and homesteaded on this wilderness property. She bore eight of her 11 children here, outlasted four husbands and carved a magnificent, magical garden out of a thick and foreboding rainforest.
The remoteness of the area brought inherent risks to Annie and her family; cougars prowled endlessly nearby, sensing easy prey. Ada Annie Rae-Arthur shot and trapped dozens of the animals and thus emerged the legend of Cougar Annie. This garden is now one of British Columbia’s premier heritage gardens. Surrounded by the tall trees of the West Coast rainforest, Cougar Annie’s garden is a place of strange and compelling beauty. From this remote location, Annie ran a nursery garden and shipped countless varieties of plants across Canada.
For decades she advertised her wares (and occasionally for husbands) in the Western Producer and in the Winnipeg Free Press. The garden consists of a five-acre clearing, criss-crossed with more than 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 nearly 100 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 and no other garden of this scope exists on the West Coast.
There are many First Nations cultural heritage sites in Hesquiat Peninsula Park, including middens.
This prominent low-elevation peninsula is a significant wilderness area protecting heritage sites, representative old-growth forest stands of Sitka spruce, lodgepole pine, white pine and yellow-cedar and a freshwater lake.
The park also encompasses a variety of coastal ecosystems including extensive off-shore reefs, boulder, cobble and sand beaches, sea caves, sheltered bays, kelp beds and mudflats.