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PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND TOUR FOR ANNE OF GREEN GABLES FANS

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Prince Edward Island (PEI) is better known for Anne of Green Gables than for its historical importance as Canada's birthplace. An immediate international success, when it was published in 1908, the book is Lucy Maud Montgomery's best known novel.

Anne of Green Gables at Avonlea Village, PEI
Anne of Green Gables at Avonlea Village, PEI
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Except for The Blue Castle, all L.M. Montgomery books are set in PEI. A prolific writer, Montgomery wrote 20 books, more than 500 short stories, 500 poems and hundreds of letters. She also recorded thoughts about her personal life and world events in journals, from the age of nine until just before her death in 1942, at the age of 67.

Anne of Green Gables tells the story of Anne Shirley, a red-haired, freckle-faced orphan. She was mistakenly sent to live with a strict spinster, Marilla Cuthbert, and her bachelor brother, Matthew, when they tried to adopt a boy to help with the farm work.

In spite of her penchant for misdemeanours, Anne Shirley's imagination and passion for melodrama and optimistic spirit endeared her to all the characters living in the imaginary island village of Avonlea. An early fan was Mark Twain, who called Anne "the dearest and most moving and delightful child since the immortal Alice."

Anne of Green Gables DVD

The best-selling Canadian book of all-time went into ten printings in its first year. Anne of Green Gables was translated into Swedish in 1909, and into more than 36 languages since then, including Mandarin.

Anne of Green Gables book, chocolates and Mandarin translation
Anne of Green Gables book, chocolates and Mandarin translation
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

More than 50 million copies have been sold worldwide. The Anne of Green Gables book has inspired musicals, plays, movies, television series, ceramic figurines, books, anime cartoons, websites, CDs, DVDs and even her own brand of chocolates.

PEI Tourism

How can visitors easily incorporate the many Anne sites, museums and performances in Prince Edward Island? Tourism PEI describes a three-day Anne Itinerary on its website.

The Prince Edward Island driving tour helps visitors learn about Montgomery and her books. It organizes Anne attractions in a methodical way, with time for meals, sightseeing and shopping.

This Anne of Green Gables tour covers Cavendish attractions and Avonlea Village on the first day. The second day is a picturesque drive to Lucy Maud Montgomery and Anne attractions in New London, Park Corner, Borden-Carleton, Lower Bedeque and Bideford. The third and final day brings Anne fans to Charlottetown, the capital of Prince Edward Island.

Japanese visitors at Green Gables - Lucy Maud Montgomery's Cavendish National Historic Site
Japanese visitors at Green Gables - Lucy Maud Montgomery's Cavendish National Historic Site
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Cavendish

Every year, more than 250,000 people visit Green Gables, the fictional home of Anne in Cavendish. It's now a National Historic Site. The original green-roofed house, built in the mid-1800s, was the home of David Jr. and Margaret Macneill, cousins of Montgomery's grandfather.

Although L.M. Montgomery never lived at Green Gables, she spent many happy hours at the farmstead exploring what she called "the Haunted Woods" and "Lover's Lane" behind it.

Green Gables is one location for the annual Lucy Maud Montgomery Festival, held in July and August this year. The L.M. Montgomery Festival showcases old-time music and square-dancing, animated story telling and workshops for writers, photographers and quilters.

L. M. Montgomery's Empire typewriter and letters at Green Gables, Cavendish
L. M. Montgomery's Empire typewriter and letters at Green Gables, Cavendish
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Lucy Maud Montgomery

The orientation film, in the Visitor Reception Centre, ties together Anne of Green Gables, the life and works of L.M. Montgomery and the places in PEI that inspired her descriptions. "I have woven a good deal of reality into my books," wrote Montgomery in 1911.

A small museum, outside the theatre, displays priceless treasures including Lucy Maud's black Empire typewriter, purchased nearly new in 1906. It was so well-used that many painted letters are worn off the keys.

Also in the glass case, is Montgomery's lap desk, strewn with letters for family and friends, and an original 1898 scrapbook, where she pasted newspaper clippings of her published work, poems, flowers and tufts of fur from her pet cats.

Black and white photos on the wall show Montgomery at different stages of her career, her parents, grandparents, two sons, Stuart and Chester, and her husband, Rev. Ewan Macdonald. They married in 1911, at her Campbell cousins' Silver Bush home in Park Corner. Lucy Maud used Silver Bush as the setting for her novels, Pat of Silver Bush and Mistress Pat.

Silver Bush, Anne of Green Gables Museum in Park Corner. Organ in parlour where L. M. Montgomery married Ewan Macdonald.
Silver Bush, Anne of Green Gables Museum in Park Corner. Organ in parlour where L. M. Montgomery married Ewan Macdonald.
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Museum exhibits

The green-trimmed white building, 15 minutes west of Cavendish on Route 20, is now the Anne of Green Gables Museum. Located on the Campbell Homestead, which has been in the Campbell family for more than 230 years, the museum is now owned by George and Maureen Campbell.

George Campbell, a great grandson of Annie and John Campbell (aunt and uncle of Lucy Maud), gives visitors peaceful horse-drawn carriage rides around the Lake of Shining Waters. A drink of Anne's favorite raspberry cordial (made by the Campbells and sold in the Craft Shop) is the perfect refreshment after "Matthew's Carriage ride" is over.

Pam, George's sister, points out the organ and furnishings in the parlour, used during Montgomery's wedding and still used today by many couples who marry here. Visitors see the "enchanted bookcase" that Montgomery describes in Anne of Green Gables, some first editions of her books and a scrapbook.

The most important artefact is her "crazy quilt." Pam explains: "It took Lucy Maud six years to make it. No two patchwork pieces are the same. They are different colours, fabrics and shapes, ranging from satins to prints. Each piece has different stitching."

Personalized scrapbooks

Lucy Maud Montgomery Birthplace, at Clifton Corner in New London, houses more artefacts. The author lived here for only 21 months. When L. M. Montgomery's mother, Clara Woolner Macneill, developed tuberculosis, Lucy Maud's father, Hugh John Montgomery, moved his wife and daughter to the Macneill Homestead in Cavendish. Here on Sept 14, 1876, Clara Woolner Macneill died at the age of 23.

Linda Boutilier reads Aunt Maud's Recipe Book at L. M. Montgomery's Birthplace in New London.
Linda Boutilier reads Aunt Maud's Recipe Book at L. M. Montgomery's Birthplace in New London.
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Linda Boutilier shows visitors seven of Montgomery's original scrapbooks, with poems and newspaper articles meticulously glued on the pages. "Montgomery's 19 scrapbooks are stored in Charlottetown's Confederation Centre. Each year, different ones are selected for display at her birthplace. The scrapbooks show her fondness for nature, flowers and cats."

Also on display are two original letters. One is a neatly penned 38-page letter to her friend Eva Macneill, after her honeymoon. In it, she confided that The Story Girl, which she published in 1911, was her favourite book.

Visitors see the small bedroom, where L.M. Montgomery was born in 1874, and downstairs, her original white satin wedding slippers, next to a replica of her wedding dress.

Maud, as she wanted to be called, loved cooking. Boutilier opens Aunt Maud's Recipe Book (sold in the gift shop) to reveal copies of Montgomery's handwritten recipes, collected by friends and family. "Her mock cherry pie, made with cranberries and raisins was her son's favourite," she says.

Book club

Bideford Parsonage Museum, where Montgomery boarded during her first teaching job at Bideford School in 1894, is a pretty yellow house with white gingerbread trim and a wrap-around veranda. Glancing through the lace curtained-window in her bedroom, visitors see the same "lovely view of the bay" that she described.

Bideford Parsonage Museum
Bideford Parsonage Museum
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

On Wednesday Evenings with L.M. Montgomery, during the summer, guest speakers read her short stories and share their insights into the author's life and works.

The Bideford Parsonage Museum hosts a Strawberry Social every July, on a Sunday, with musical entertainment, games, a spelling bee, a clothes hanging competition and delicious strawberry shortcake with ice cream.

Vacation weddings

Connoisseurs of traditional Prince Edward Island music tap their feet to several daily performances at Avonlea — Village of Anne of Green Gables. Fiddlers, spoon-players, guitarists and accordion-players entertain visitors with PEI's unique mix of rhythmic Scottish, Irish and Acadian music.

Rev. Ches Boutilier, marries couples at Avonlea Village and other PEI sites.
Rev. Ches Boutilier, marries couples at Avonlea Village and other PEI sites.
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Ches Boutilier, the minister at Avonlea — Village of Anne of Green Gables, has married more than 500 Japanese couples at Avonlea, Silver Bush and other PEI locations.

Anne of Green Gables became popular in Japan after Hanako Muraoka translated it into Akage No An (Anne of the Red Hair), during WWII. Muraoka received the book as a gift from New Brunswick missionary, Loretta Shaw. In 1952, it became part of the Japanese school curriculum. Japanese women were inspired by Anne's optimistic and feisty personality.

Japan's fascination with Anne spawned an Anne Academy, which taught English in Japan, the nicknamed Green Gables School of Nursing in Japan (a sister school to the University of Prince Edward Island's School of Nursing) and national Japanese fan clubs, the Lupins and the Buttercups.

Buttercups members collected and sent money to Parks Canada to repair Green Gables house after a fire damaged it in 1997. They also donated more than $3,000 to help renovate the school in Lower Bedeque, where Lucy Maud taught her students.

Nowadays, Chinese, Korean and other Asian women also make the Anne pilgrimage to Prince Edward Island. At Green Gables National Historic Site, they often take photos of each other wearing straw hats and red braided wigs to resemble Anne.

Collectibles

Anne fans, who want to buy collectible souvenirs, will find them at Cavendish Figurines at Gateway Village, near the Confederation Bridge, in Borden-Carleton. On guided studio tours, visitors watch artists create a series of original earthenware figurines depicting scenes from Anne of Green Gables.

Don Maxfield holds 'Arrival at Green Gables' figurine at Cavendish Figurines in Gateway Village.
Don Maxfield holds 'Arrival at Green Gables' figurine at Cavendish Figurines in Gateway Village.
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

"Figurines begin with a sketch given to a Wedgwood-trained sculptor to create a mould," says co-owner, Don Maxfield, who approves figurines at the end of the production line. He shows visitors the clay, the cleaning tools used to remove seams from greenware, the kiln and the oil-based translucent stains that give the figurines their unique look.

"Our strategy is to convey human emotion," he says, showing Cavendish Figurines' best-selling collectible, "Arrival at Green Gables." It depicts Anne in Matthews' carriage in front of the book. Visitors can also dress up like Anne, with red braids, or dress in overalls to resemble Matthew, for souvenir photos.

Road to Avonlea DVDs

The Gift Shop also sells the Anne of Green Gables Millennium doll, sculpted by Canadian artist Michele Girard-Kassis and reproduced by Eva Arsenault. It has hand-dyed mohair clothing and handmade leather shoes.

Shoppers can view and buy copies of CBC's Road to Avonlea, which was based on Montgomery's stories. The television series held the record as the most-watched Canadian TV series (1.97 million viewers in 1989-1990 season) until surpassed by Canadian Idol in 2003. The long-awaited DVD was released in 2006.

The Anne of Green Gables Stores in Gateway Village, Charlottetown and Avonlea Village, sell books, DVDs, dolls, music, videos, chocolates and Anne souvenirs officially authorized by the Anne of Green Gables Licensing Authority.

Hotel in Prince Edward Island

Anne enthusiasts may want to stay at Dalvay-by-the Sea. The Queen Anne Revival summer resort, built in 1895, has 26 guest rooms, furnished in antiques.

A National Historic Site, the hotel is located in Prince Edward Island National Park on the north coast. The syndicated Sullivan/Disney Channel series, Road to Avonlea, depicted it as the White Sands Hotel.

Confederation Centre PEI

The success of Anne of Green Gables - The Musical™ is a testimony to the enduring appeal of Anne to successive generations. The longest-running musical in Canada, it was first staged at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in 1965, as part of the inaugural Charlottetown Festival.

Anne of Green Gables - The Musical program from Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown
Anne of Green Gables - The Musical program from Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

More than 3 million people worldwide have seen the musical in PEI, as well as in New York, London, England, and Japan. In Charlottetown alone, nearly 2.5 million people have viewed the fast-paced entertaining show. Performances run from the middle of June until the middle of September in the 1,100-seat Mainstage Theatre.

Norman Campbell and Don Harron first wrote Anne of Green Gables for a one-hour CBC television show in 1956. Campbell (1924-2004) was internationally recognized for directing television classics like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty (Emmy Awards) and Giselle (Prix Anik). His credits include 20 ballets for television, the comedies All in the Family and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, as well as Karen Kain and Diana Ross specials. He considered Anne of Green Gables - The Musical™ his greatest achievement.

Harron has appeared in Canadian, English and American theatre, hosted the CTV network The Don Harron Show and performed as Charlie Farquharson.

Theater production

Queen Elizabeth II attended the opening of the Confederation Centre of the Arts in 1964, when the title song from the television show was performed. She encouraged the authors, and producer Mavor Moore, to develop the work into a full-length stage production.

Amy Wallis, the fourteenth Canadian actress to perform the lead role of Anne Shirley, stars in the 2008 performance. Her credits include: "Belle" in Beauty & the Beast and "The Mistress" in Evita.

Before or after the musical, visitors should look at the 160-kg sugar sculpture of the Anne of Green Gables home and characters in the Confederation Centre. Measuring a meter in length, it was made in Japan and given by the Japanese Lupins Anne fan club and the Japanese Cake Designers Association to the Center.

Except for the base, roof and tree trunk, the Green Gables model is made entirely from sugar. Meticulous details enhance beds, washbasins, a stove and dishes in the house and clothing worn by Anne, Diana, Marilla, Mathew and Gilbert.

Anne & Gilbert™, first performed in 2005 in Playhouse Victoria-by-the-Sea, moved to Harbourfront Jubilee Theatre in Summerside, in 2006. The musical, based on Montgomery's sequel novels, Anne of Avonlea and Anne of the Island, explores the tenuous romance between Anne Shirley (now a teacher) and Gilbert Blythe.

L.M. Montgomery Institute, located at the University of Prince Edward Island, in Charlottetown, annually answers more than 200 research questions from students, scholars and the general public. Since 1999, the Institute has participated in the publication of several books, including L.M. Montgomery and Popular Culture and Making Avonlea: L.M. Montgomery and Canadian Culture.

In 2000, the Institute produced a multiple award-winning CD, The Bend in the Road: An Invitation to the World and Work of L.M. Montgomery.

Early editions of Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea books
Early editions of
Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea books
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

First editions

L.M. Montgomery Institute compiles the most up-to-date annotated bibliography of sources on Montgomery. "We are now the only place in the world where you can view first editions of all English language versions of Montgomery's books," says director, Elizabeth DeBlois.

"L.M. Montgomery Institute also has the family bible from the Macneill side of the family, with all the births and deaths written inside, and a set of letters that she wrote as a girl to her cousin."

Every two years, since 1994, the Institute hosts an international conference on Montgomery's life, works, culture and influence. The conference includes guest speakers, poetry readings, book launches, concerts and guided tours of Montgomery collections.

It's impossible to visit Prince Edward Island without becoming smitten by the fictional little red-haired girl named Anne. But PEI visitors discover more than the story and settings for Anne of Green Gables. They experience a way of life that Montgomery captures so clearly in her writings.


TRAVEL INFORMATION

Prince Edward Island Visitors Guide: www.gov.pe.ca/visitorsguide

More things to see and do in PEI:

PEI Lobster Dinners, Church Suppers and Seafood Outlets

Meetings and Incentives in Prince Edward Island