Friday, July 1, 2011

Prince Edward Island–Home of L. M. Montgomery and Anne of Green Gables

Wednesday June 22nd - we left Acadia National Park and entered Canada. We spent the night at St. John, New Brunswick, on our way to Prince Edward Island. The insiration for this next stop.....fond memories of a family favorite, "Anne of Green Gables".

Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote the novel '”Anne of Green Gables” which was published in 1908, and which went on to become a best seller, a movie series and the setting for the television series “Avonlea”.

“Anne of Green Gables” is about an outspoken, very imaginative orphan girl, Anne (with an ‘e’) Shirley who goes to live with Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, an elderly bachelor brother and never married sister, in the fictitious town of Avonlea, on Prince Edward island. Anne has a love of the dramatic, and a bit of a temper (which tends to get her in quite a bit of trouble), and a fierce longing to belong and to be loved. As the story develops, the characters and the town of ‘Avonlea’ endear themselves to the reader, as they speak of a simpler time and place.

We enjoyed watching the “Green Gables” movies and the “Avonlea” series as a family when our children were younger. I would delight in “Anne’s” love of books and words. I saw so much of our own children in the imagination and spirit, and the steadfast determination and loyalty of the characters. And we all can identify with that longing to be loved.

In identifying with the characters, there were so many ‘lessons’ to remember------ to nurture the imagination, to try to see the extraordinary in the ordinary things around us……to appreciate the ‘quirkiness’ in our children that makes them unique……the importance of forgiveness and of not holding a grudge out of stubbornness…… to remember that, when Fred occasionally gets in his quiet moods (like the soft-spoken "’Matthew Cuthbert”) to accept and appreciate this, also……. And, to remember to soften the edges a bit….and to “….speak what is in my heart”.

Though her novel is fiction, L. M. Montgomery drew her inspiration for the story from her experiences of being raised on P.E. Island. Though she never lived in the Green Gables house – the house and farm were owned by her cousins- she was a frequent visitor and often ran and played in the woods nearby. The idyllic setting of P. E. Island, the woodland places she discovered and named (the Haunted Forest, and Lover’s Lane) surrounding her cousin’s farm, and the Green Gables house, all became part of the story of “Anne”.

We toured the Green Gables House and grounds……….


The house is set up as a typical farm house in the late 1800’s, using Montgomery’s descriptions as a guide.






and walked the twisty path through the Haunted Wood, and strolled Montgomery’s Lover’s Lane……..


And we tried to open ourselves….. and see the world that L. M. Montgomery had ‘imagined’……

We toured the attraction ‘Avonlea’…….a town set to look like the Avonlea of the story….complete with characters in costumes……


who walked about town……


Went to school……..


And played us some sea shanties and local folk music…….


And put on 'skits’ right from the pages of the Green Gables novel.


Then, it was time to leave ‘Avonlea’ …….and say goodbye to the characters that had seemed as familiar as old friends……

We spent the afternoon driving around the North shore of P. E. Island and stopping at the local crafters’ shops. We enjoyed seeing so many wonderful, authentic and creative crafts. We happened upon a gallery called “The Dunes” – you can look it up at It was the most exciting and fanciful and wonderful art and craft gallery, and so much more…. furniture, a Bali themed section, a cafĂ©, a Buddha Garden with fantastic natural wooden benches (I just wish I had taken my camera in!) Waaay to expensive to buy anything….but fantastical!

Our destination was Dalvay-by-the-Sea. Built in 1896, as the summer home of Alexander MacDonald (then president of Standard Oil), Dalvay-by-the-Sea was converted, in the 1930’s into a summer hotel and was Montgomery’s inspiration for the ‘White Sands Hotel’ in the Green gables novel. But……we were interested in their Sticky Date Pudding with toffee sauce and ice cream, which was the specialty of the house. It was delicious! : )


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