Skip To Content

Cottagers and Indians BY DREW HAYDEN TAYLOR

View Program

View Poster 

November 27, 2018 @ 2pm
Showplace Performing Arts, 290 George St. N
SPECIAL STUDENT RATE: $14 for Showplace Performance Click here for tickets

November 28 & 29 @ 13:30 & 7PM
Market Hall Performing Arts Centre, 140 Charlotte St. N




$27 (+$3 Ticketing Fee) Regular Admission

$11 (+$3 Ticketing Fee) Students / Underwaged

$7 (+$3 Ticketing Fee) High School Students (Must show ID to pick up tickets)

Purchase Tickets


$27 (+$3 Ticketing Fee) Regular Admission

$17 (+$3 Ticketing Fee) Students / Underwaged

$7 (+$3 Ticketing Fee) High School Students (Must show ID to pick up tickets)

Purchase Tickets

This performance contains mature language – for details please contact:

Post show Q&A with the artists: November 27, November 28 (both shows), November 29 (12:30 pm show)

Post show reception: November 29 (7 pm show)

Running time: 80 minutes with no intermission

One of Canada’s most successful and prolific writers, the author of dozens of books and plays that have been performed around the world, hails from Curve Lake First Nation. Award-winning playwright Drew Hayden Taylor’s most recent play, a sold-out hit at Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre last season, is coming to Peterborough on a tour that takes the show to twelve communities around Ontario. This engagement is special, as it brings the play close to its roots: Cottagers and Indians is inspired by media reports which surfaced in 2015, describing a years-long dispute between cottage owners on Pigeon Lake and a rice farmer from Curve Lake First Nation, James Whetung. The dispute continues to this day.

In the play, Arthur Copper (played by Herbie Barnes) of the Anishinaabe First Nation and Maureen Poole (played by Brooke Johnson) of North York both feel like the other has infringed on their land. But unlike most petty fights over land, this one pokes holes in the very concept of private land ownership: who remains the rightful caretakers of this land?

Cottagers and Indians tells the story of an unravelling neighbourly feud with a significant twist, epitomizing the differences between cultures, economic status, and people. Taylor uses humour to expose the absurdity that comes from these kinds of arguments, and touches on the severity of its historical implications. The play gives audiences a sincere and pragmatic look at the current conflicts between First Nations’ traditional water usage and property owners in cottage country who are looking to enjoy their summer homes.

Like much of Drew Hayden Taylor’s work, Cottagers and Indians cleverly uses humour to deliver a story with serious subject matter. As he says “I’m a firm believer that you can teach, you can explore, you can heal through humour as much as you can through anger or sadness.”

Drew Hayden Taylor is not the only area artist involved with Cottagers and Indians. The original production was directed by Patti Shaughnessy, a theatre artist who is a member of Curve Lake First Nation, and musician/composer Beau Dixon has created the evocative sound.

There no real heroes or villains in a story like this, only people trying to look after their families.” – Drew Hayden Taylor
“I laughed out loud”, “If you like the jokes in Come From Away, then look into Cottagers and Indians.” – The Globe and Mail
“Full of mischievous good humour”, “Sincere and amusing” – Mooney on Theatre
“Light and entertaining” – NOW Magazine
“Drew Hayden Taylor has a deft touch for mixing comedy and commentary in an entertaining and all-Canadian form of social satire.” – Vancouver Sun

Public Talk: A Conversation with Drew Hayden Taylor, James Whetung, and Douglas Williams

Date: Monday November 26th
Time: 7:30pm
Venue: Market Hall Performing Arts Centre
Moderator: Anne Taylor
Co-presented by: Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies, Pine Tree Lectures, Trent University

Drew Hayden Taylor is the writer of the hit play Cottagers and Indians. James Whetung is the wild rice harvester whose activism it is based on. Doug Williams is a Curve Lake elder and expert in First Nations treaties. His newest book is Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg: This is Our Territory, a personal narrative and history of Curve Lake First Nation, where Drew and James also reside. Hear them speak about the creation of Cottagers and Indians and the issues it raises surrounding treaty rights.

Written by Drew Hayden Taylor
Remount Directed by Melody Johnson
Original Direction by Patti Shaughnessy

Herbie Barnes
Brooke Johnson

Set Design by Robin Fisher
Costume Design by Sage Paul
Lighting Design by Nick Andison
Sound Design by Beau Dixon
Stage Management by Kate Redding

Venue Accessibility

Artist Biographies:

Drew Hayden Taylor

Drew Hayden Taylor is an award-winning playwright, journalist, novelist and filmmaker. Born, raised and living on the Curve Lake First Nation, Drew had done practically everything from performing stand up comedy at the Kennedy Centre in Washington D.C. to serving as Artistic Director for Canada’s premiere Native Theatre Company, Native Earth Performing Arts. Currently, Drew is developing an television series for the CBC and expecting the release of his 31st book.  A special thanks to all the people in the production, to Tarragon Theatre, and James Whetung.


Melody Johnson

Melody is pleased to be back at Tarragon, where she premiered her Dora nominated, Miss Caledonia, co created Mimi, A Poisoner’s Comedy, with Rick Roberts and Allen Cole, won the Dora for her work as the titular character in Morwyn Brebner’s Little Mercy’s First Murder/Tarragon-Shaw Festival, and originated roles in It’s All True and Well. Most recently she staged and performed her new work Person of Interest at the Tarragon Workspace.

Other favourite credits include:  Assassins/MTC, 7 Stories/ Theatre Calgary/CanStage (Betty Mitchell award nomination), Trout Stanley/Factory Theatre, I Think I Can YPT/NAC, Our Town/Two Planks, (Merrit nomination), Blithe Spirit/Soulpepper, An Awkward Evening with Martin & Johnson with Bob Martin, (The Drowsy Chaperone).

An alumna of The Toronto Second City, Melody has also directed both the Mainstage and Touring Companies, comedyturged Chicago Second City’s #DateMe, and directed the Dora award winning One Night Only musical improv show. When not in the theatre Melody voices cartoons, teaches and directs at the Humber School of Comedy and enjoys her family.

Herbie Barnes

Herbie has spent thirty years playing various roles in the theatre. Plays include Harvey , Alice Through the Looking Glass and Children of God. Herbie developed his skills in the Toronto Improv community and went on to teach at Toronto’s Second City and at various other improv companies across North America. Herbie also toured North America with his Improv troupe Tonto’s Nephews. Herbie has also been in the director’s chair for close to three decades and was nominated for a John Hursh Award for directing. He has guided such plays as Tales Of an Urban Indian, Where The blood Mixes, Munchtime, as well as big musicals such as Music Man, Oliver the Musical and Cotton Patch Gospel. Herbie has also taught in a great number of universities and collages including Humber Collage, Centre for Indigenous Theatre. Blending theatre with empowerment. This type of work has also found it’s way into treatment centres working with survivors of various abuse.

Herbie has also written several plays and helped develop a number of other writers voices as a dramaturge.

Brooke Johnson

At Tarragon, Brooke had roles in the original productions of Joan MacLeod’s ‘Toronto, Mississippi’ and ‘Amigo’s Blue Guitar’ as well as in Susan Coyne’s ‘Alice’s Affair’.

She premiered her own solo play, ‘Trudeau Stories’ in Tarragon’s Mainspace for the 2007 Summerworks Fest. Brooke continues to tour her autobiographical show across Canada, and has played to well over 20,000 people to date–(and has stopped at several of the venues on the C&I tour).

She’s been given four awards for her film and Television work, and has four Dora nominations (the first was for Toronto, Mississippi).

From June to mid October, Brooke lives on a trawler in Northeastern Georgian Bay between the Magnetawan & Henvey First Nations in Robinson-Huron Treaty territory on the traditional land of the Atikameksheng Anishnaabeg.


Attention High School Teachers and Schools!

School bookings are available for both matinee presentations of Cottagers and Indians. $10 per student.

Free Education Guide available. Contact or call us at 705-745-1788. More info below.

Show Sponsors:


School of the Environment

Indigenous Environmental Studies and Sciences Program

Masters in Sustainability Studies

Cultural Studies

School for the Study of Canada


In support of KPRDSB Indigenous Peoples Awareness Month and in partnership with the Youth Leadership in Sustainability program.


Thank You!

Public Energy gratefully acknowledges the generous support of our 2023-24 Season Funders and Sponsors.

Season Sponsors & Funders

V Formation logo. Text reads: "V Formation. Thought-provoking work for charities."

Jo Pillon Royal Lepage logoHi Ho Silver Logo
Kawartha Now LogoWedesign logo
Canadian Heritage logo Peterborough logo
Ontario Arts Council logo Canadian Council For The Arts logo

Accessibility Sponsor

Lloyd Carr Harris Foundation logo