I’m very pleased that the Boat Basin Foundation has agreed to become a sponsor for the Secret Coast expedition.
The Boat Basin Foundation is a very special and innovative organization, and they are also located at a very critical point in our journey: where we will transition from coastal hiking to collect our sea kayaks for the ocean part of the journey.
The Boat Basin Foundation is a charitable organization based at historic Cougar Annie’s Garden. Over a century ago, in June 1915, Ada Annie Rae-Arthur arrived with her husband to a sheltered part of Hesquiaht Harbour, to attempt to homestead there. The south-facing slopes above the fertile flatlands below proved favourable, and over the years Cougar Annie managed to gradually carve a farm out of the tangled rainforest, eventually running a post office and a mail-order flower bulb business – and shooting over 50 cougars and outliving four husbands along the way. (For more about her fascinating story, check out the award-winning book Cougar Annie’s Garden).
Cougar Annie died in 1985 at the age of 97, and her long-term friend and supporter, Peter Buckland, who met her while prospecting in the area, purchased the property from her. By then, most of the garden had been consumed by the rainforest. But, in a project that has been on-going since that time, Peter has year-by-year beaten the rainforest back (his term for it is “chainsaw gardening”), uncovering a wealth of heirloom plants along the way: from flower bulbs that had been dormant but alive under the shade of the salal for decades, to giant rhododendron trees that became part of the rainforest structure themselves.
The Boat Basin Foundation’s property includes the resurrected gardens, which comprise five acres of the original homestead and include Cougar Annie’s little house. The Foundation has also constructed a spectacular Field Study Centre on the ridge above the gardens, looking down onto Rae Lake. The facilities include a great room with a giant single-slab table of yellow cedar and cooking facilities, seven cabins that can sleep four people each, and “lecture rooms” that have to be seen to be comprehended: built of cedar shakes and naturally weathered wood posts from the property, nestled into the landscape. (Hence all the photos! You just can’t describe them.)
The centre is a stunning, one-of-a-kind location for group activities such as science or arts field courses, yoga retreats, or staff team-building or brainstorming retreats. We are so grateful to receive the Boat Basin Foundation’s support!