Bucket List Worthy
“I’ve always heard that Prince Edward Island was the prettiest place in the world.”
No visit to Prince Edward Island is complete without a pilgrimage to Green Gables National Historic Site. Green Gables’ charming farmhouse, its beautiful gardens, and the inviting woodland paths were fodder for Lucy Maud Montgomery’s future fictional heroine “Anne”, a character so beloved that Mark Twain described her as the “the dearest and most loveable child in fiction since the immortal Alice.”
But for the true Anne fan, Green Gables is but the starting point for an incredible Prince Edward Island road trip. During her lifetime, Lucy Maud travelled extensively throughout the island, incorporating village life and landmarks into Anne’s most memorable adventures – and a few of her own as well!
Make Your Own “Stamp” on Cavendish.
At the end of the fortnight Anne took to “haunting” the post office also, in the distracted company of Jane, Ruby, and Josie, opening the Charlottetown dailies with shaking hands and cold, sinkaway feelings as bad as any experienced during the Entrance week.
Cavendish village – or Avonlea, as it’s better known – is home to a modest post office that most of the tour buses breeze by. If only they knew! Lucy Maud was assistant postmistress at this very location for several years and the resulting intimate knowledge of the community is reflected in her writing. The post office also functions as a museum and frequently has exhibits celebrating Montgomery’s life.
Kensington Railway Station.
Matthew encountered the stationmaster locking up the ticket office preparatory to going home for supper, and asked him if the five-thirty train would soon be along.
“The five-thirty train has been in and gone half an hour ago,” answered that brisk official. “But there was a passenger dropped off for you–a little girl.”
Listed on the National Historic Site registrar, the Kensington Railway Station is a rare example of a preserved Prince Edward Island rail station. But Anne of Green Gables fans will need no visitor’s guide to find their way around – the long platform, the ladies waiting room, and the ticket office are a dead ringer for the fictional Bright River station where Anne first met Matthew Cuthbert. The rail tracks have long been converted to cycling paths, and are now one of the prettiest and easiest ways to explore the island.
The L.M. Montgomery Heritage Museum: aka Ingleside.
Ingleside is nice . . . and I do love it now. I once thought I would never love it.
If you’ve journeyed all this way, chances are you’ve also followed Anne’s journey from life on Green Gables to raising her own family on the idyllic Ingleside property. The inspiration for Ingleside came from a house once owned by Montgomery’s own father and grandfather… and the property is still owned by the family today. But every summer, they open the doors to welcome visitors to their museum. Keep your eyes open for the green and white spotted china dog “Magog”, as well as Anne’s famous rosebud tea set as you experience life in the late 1800s.
For the Anne Fanatic
For those truly passionate about Anne of Green Gables –and Canadian history too- these three sites are not to be missed on any Anne themed bucket list.
The Anne of Green Gables Museum (aka the Campbell Farm) has been in the same family for over 230 years and is the setting for the Lake of Shining Waters – or Barry’s Pond, for the more prosaic among us.
“That’s Barry’s pond,” said Matthew. “Oh, I don’t like that name, either. I shall call it–let me see–the Lake of Shining Waters. Yes, that is the right name for it. I know because of the thrill. When I hit on a name that suits exactly it gives me a thrill. Do things ever give you a thrill?”
The L.M. Montgomery Lower Bedeque School was run by school mistress L.M. Montgomery from 1896-1897, who was teaching school long before she assigned the same profession to Anne. Today it is a fine example of a rural Canadian school house. Before Lucy Maud arrived, however, the school had a bit of a mysterious reputation. An 1874 school board dispute led to the building being torn down in the middle of the night. Rumor has it if you poke around enough local barns; you might just some of the missing pieces!
The Avonlea school was a whitewashed building, low in the eaves and wide in the windows, furnished inside with comfortable substantial old-fashioned desks that opened and shut, and were carved all over their lids with the initials and hieroglyphics of three generations of school children. The schoolhouse was set back from the road and behind it was a dusky fir wood and a brook where all the children put their bottles of milk in the morning to keep cool and sweet until dinner hour.
The Bideford Parsonage Museum is a listed heritage property notable for its connection to Lucy Maud Montgomery, who boarded here while teaching school nearby. Her room is virtually unchanged in the 100+ years since Montgomery lived her and devoted Anne fans will be interested to inspect the feather tick bed.
Anne washed the dishes deftly enough, as Marilla who kept a sharp eye on the process, discerned. Later on she made her bed less successfully, for she had never learned the art of wrestling with a feather tick.
Find a “Kindred Spirit” in PEI.
Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.
Anyone with a passion for history and literature will feel right at home in Prince Edward Island. This is truly a place for curious and inquisitive spirits – no wonder Anne herself fit in so well! But no matter how many Anne sites you visit, your visit will be made memorable by the “kindred spirits” you meet along the way. The Islanders are every bit as welcoming and hospitable as they were when Lucy Maud Montgomery called PEI home.