Montgomery’s picture of her birthplace

Note: Photographs of L.M. Montgomery’s photos, journals, and scrapbooks are displayed courtesy of the L.M. Montgomery Collection, Archival Collection, University of Guelph.

Today (6/12/12), we got an early start and headed to the University of Guelph Library. After about a two hour drive, we arrived on the campus, paid the $10 flat rate parking ($2.00/hour or $10.00 for a day), and found our way to the McLaughlin Library.

Ewan and the boys

The collection offers ten L.M. Montgomery’s journals, four scrapbooks, newspaper reviews, short stories, the manuscript of RIlla of Ingleside, 1,273 of Montgomery’s own photographs, and several other artifacts.

Montgomery as a young girl

I began my research with Montgomery’s own photographs. Having seen a number of reproductions in Prince Edward Island, it was a rare treasure to be able to see so many of her own pictures. What a person chooses to capture on film says something about his or her priorities. To look through the friends and family, places and landscapes that had shaped Montgomery’s life and stories gave a bit of a window into her soul. It showed the high points–Ewan playing with the boys instead of dealing with the depression that made him withdraw in later life. It showed places that no longer exist, like her grandparent’s home. And, it showed her in happy moments: as a small child, sunbathing on the beach, and in her wedding clothes. It was truly a slice of her life.

Page of Montgomery’s journal

Next, I looked through Volume One of her journals. While her writing is difficult to decipher, selections of her journals have been included in The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery edited by Mary Rubio and Elizabeth Waterson. The neat thing about seeing the journals is that they are in Montgomery’s own writing, complete with photographs illustrating the work. While they do not put them within the pages like Montgomery does, many of these photographs appear in The Selected Journals.

Scrapbook page with Montgomery’s wedding clothes swatches

As our time was running out (The library closes at 4:30), we asked to see one of Montgomery’s scrapbooks. I was surprised that they let us handle them when they are so fragile and falling apart, but it was an incredible experience. Unlike the journals which only contained pictures, the scrapbooks include newspaper clippings, swatches of material, pressed flowers (including Montgomery’s own wedding bouquet), cards, and letters. Again, they were just another window into her world, which I am excited to have experienced.

If we have time to go back, I still want to see the Manuscript to Rilla of Ingleside, Gog and Magog, Montgomery’s needlework, and a few other things. All in all, it was an exciting day, despite the fact that I dislike being cooped inside at one task for so long.

Norval church and Manse

On our way home, we swung through Norval, which was another place Ewan ministered in his later years. Apparently, this was a difficult time in Ewan’s life and strained his relationship with the people of Norval. In Norval, Crawford’s Village Bakery houses the L.M. Montgomery Museum, which also has pictures, early book editions, and memorabilia. Norval also offers the manse the Montgomery’s lived in (private property behind the church), the church where Ewan ministered, and a garden dedicated to L.M. Montgomery’s Norval years. It was only a short visit, but still neat to see.

For those interested in seeing what else the University of Guelph Collection has to offer, check out: http://www.lib.uoguelph.ca/resources/archival_&_special_collections/the_collections/LM_montgomery_collection.cfm

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