Two Years in Nicola by Joan Bryans


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Two Years in Nicola by Joan Bryans

“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 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. 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, courting 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.

Produced by Vital Spark Theatre, October 2005

Keywords: Nova Scotia, British Columbia, teachers, frontier, wild west, historical, true story

Genre: Drama, Historical/Biographical
Acts: 1
Run time: 90 minutes
Suitable for students 14+

Cast size: 3 actors
Male roles: 1
Female roles: 2
Casting note: All three roles are for actors aged 20-30's.