I don’t actually believe in luck, but I do believe wholeheartedly in Divine Providence, and today (8/7/11) was one of those days when God allowed everything to work out at exactly the right time to give me a really cool experience.

Ingleside (Pulpit stone is left front)

We began the morning attending the Cavendish Baptist Church. Montgomery didn’t attend church here, though she did come to social events. She also took a number of pictures of the building and discussed it in her journals.

After that, we had intended to just drive around and check out some of the shops and look for sea glass. We were well on our way of doing that when we drove to the Green Gables Museum (Silverbush) to ask about where a particular beach was. Right across the street, there was a man sitting outside. As a bit of background, the cashier at the Birthplace had told us that if we really wanted to know about Lucy Maud Montgomery to check out the house across from the Green Gables Museum. She said that man was a great source of information. When we had previously asked at the Green Gables Museum, we were told he had had heart surgery and not to disturb him. But, when he was sitting outside…we risked it!

Robert Montgomery and his wife outside of Ingleside.

I had an amazing opportunity to interview Robert Montgomery–the first cousin once removed of Lucy Maud Montgomery (His father was her first cousin). He shared that their house is the model for Ingleside where Anne and Gilbert lived after they were married. It was the childhood home of Montgomery’s father, and Maud visited many times to see her relatives there. There are several ways people have identified it as Ingleside–number of rooms, view of the Cape Tryon Lighthouse, ham hooks in the kitchen, and the U drive (non-existent now, but put in by Grandfather Montgomery (one of the first Senators in the new province of PEI) as a way for his political friends to be dropped off easily. Most significantly, “Ingleside” boasts the green china dogs placed on the mantel at Anne and Gilbert’s.

Model of Magog--available at the bookstore

I asked him if he had ever met Montgomery, and he explained that he had been born in 1940 and Montgomery’s last trip to the island was 1939; then, she died in 1942. He said that he grew up when her popularity was the lowest, due to the fact that no new books were coming out, and TV wasn’t around to pick up the series yet. He did say that his older sister was 14 when Montgomery last visited. She remembers that Montgomery loved to pick up pieces of dried driftwood on the beach. Then, she’d come home where she had asked that a fire be lit, regardless of the temperature. Robert’s sister shared that Maud loved dropping the pieces of driftwood on the smoldering coals where they would turn the colors of the rainbow due to the salt and sulfur. She said Montgomery was absolutely entranced. (I’m going to have to try this…)

Rosebud spray tea set

After the interview, he offered to show me around the house, which contained the Rosebud spray tea set (made in Austria in 1850) belonging to Grandmother Montgomery (Marilla’s rosebud set is modeled after this). In one of her journals, Montgomery confides that her favorite thing to do was hold the china up to the window and see her fingers through it. He demonstrated how they show through–apparently, this is a mark of especially fine china. Unfortunately, he had taken a number of things to storage because of his surgery (including the actual green china dog Magog (Gog had taken a fall and broken previously) and their first editions.) We did get to see the room, containing its original furniture, where Montgomery stayed on her visits. Ingleside also boasts the grandfather clock and the pulpit stone referred to in The Story Girl. The house should reopen next week if Robert’s feeling better, so other visitors will be able to share in the experience–though not if you come in a tour bus. Robert doesn’t want a lot of visitors since this is his childhood home and he doesn’t want to rope off rooms or have things destroyed. The experience was an invaluable one!

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