two years in nicola

Two Years in Nicola
by Joan Bryans

based on the letters of Annie and Jessie McQueen

Written & Directed by Joan Bryans
Produced by Frances Herzer
Technical Director/Lighting & Sound design: Darren W. Hales
Set Design: Alexandra Rojek
Costume Design: Catherine Carr
Stage Manager: Yee Hang Yam
Tour Technician: Erin Harris
Composer: Michael Rummen
Voice Coach: Joseph Charumski
Graphic Design/Website: Sandi McDonald
Assistant Stage Manager:
Anna Russell
Set Co-ordinator: Angie Kennedy
Set Painter: Debbie Abrami
Set Construction: Andy Sandberg
Photographer: Chris LeMay

Cast: Alexis Quednau, Melanie Walden, Jesse Olson.

“Yes, all reports are true: gentlemen are very plentiful over here.”  Annie McQueen             
The year is 1887. The railroad has arrived but the B.C. Interior is still a dangerous place. Rare is the white woman, far less a respectable white woman, and one who works for a living. In steps young, diminutive and proper Miss Annie McQueen of Nova Scotia to take up a teaching post in the Nicola Valley. Seven months later her sister Jessie follows to begin teaching half a day’s gallop away. How will they cope with the masculine, tough world around them? 

The sisters react in very different ways: the one homesick, isolated and censorious, the other revels in the freedom, and courts danger at every turn.

This is a true story mainly based on family letters and newspaper accounts of the day. The sisters wrote copious letters home, letters which are surprisingly intimate and revealing.  The story of Jessie and Annie McQueen shows, on a political level, how B.C. became Canadianized not through major public political events, or cowboy adventurers, but through the domestic will of individual women challenging an essentially masculine environment that was alien and tough but also free and malleable. On a personal level, it tells a story that is warm, intimate, at times heart-wrenching, but always courageous.