Anne of Green Gables


Street view of Westfield. Gilbert drove Anne along these roads

Days before I even visited Westfield, I was already impressed by their site. Due to a scheduling conflict, we were not able to go during normal business hours, and had Emailed them accordingly. Rondalyn immediately Emailed me back offering us the chance to poke around, despite the fact that they already had school groups and a film crew there. Beyond just allowing us to come during a non-scheduled day, she even went so far as to leave at the office a guide to which buildings were used in the Anne of Green Gables movie.

Interior of “The Hammond House”

When we arrived, we stopped in at the office, and were once again treated with a smile and helpfulness. We picked up the packet Rondalyn left and set out on our trek. First, I must say, if the village is this cool when NOT in full swing, I’m sure it is an amazing site. (I’m especially jealous as a Civil War reenactor, that I won’t be there for the Civil War Days June 24)

Hammond Sawmill

We started our sight-seeing tour with the D’Aubigney Inn which served as the interior to the Hammond House. While the buildings were closed up since it wasn’t a regular day, I took a picture through the window so you could see where the Hammonds sat discussion Anne’s fate. If I remember correctly, Anne comes down these stairs.

Then, we moved onto the Hammond Sawmill, which in the Village actually still has the Hammond Sawmill sign (or perhaps that’s why the name in the movie is what it is–a case of the proverbial chicken and the egg.)

The corner Matthew looks around to see Anne

From there, we wandered around to the train station where Matthew picks up Anne when she first arrives at Avonlea. It is also the train station used in The Road to Avonlea where Sarah Stanley, Nanny Louisa, and Andrew King arrived. As a historical note, the station was first built in Jerseyville and was the first building moved to Westfield, which was established by a pair of teachers who purchased the land as a place to make history come alive. What a legacy they have left!

“Matthew’s Cemetery”

After the station, we wandered down one of the main roads, which sported the General Store, which served as Lawsons in Anne of Green Gables, The Dry Goods Store, which boasts the window Anne looked out of when in the orphanage, and the road Gilbert drives down while picking Anne up from the General Store.

We ended our trek down at the Church, which itself served as the Avonlea Town Hall in “Strictly Melodrama” (The Road to Avonlea). Beside the church is a small cemetery which served in the scene where Matthew was buried and again in the scene where Felicity and Felix eat the magic seed in Road to Avonlea.

The Gazebo possibility…dashed

Finally, we discussed whether or not this was the gazebo used in the film. It looked WAY more like it than the one in Edwards Gardens, which was said to have been the one used. After speaking with a wonderful lady in the office, who said she thought their gazebo had been built after the movie, and checking online, I discovered the scroll work is a bit different, so it is not, in fact, the same one, but a nice idea anyway…

While we were only at Westfield for about an hour this trip, I am looking forward to visiting when it is up and running. I believe it will be well worth the price of admission. For more information on this amazing site, check out http://www.conservationhamilton.ca/welcome-to-westfield-heritage-village.

The Windermere House

Today (6/14/12), we set off for “The White Sands” of the first movie. We made the hour trek up to Muskoka again to see the Windermere House and cottage listed on the Tripod site. When we got there, we went to the front desk to check what they used for the set. The desk workers knew nothing of the sort, and informed us that the only movie they were aware that had filmed there was The Long Kiss Goodnight in 1996. Apparently, the film had caught the hotel on fire and it had burned to the ground. Needless to say, they haven’t allowed movies to be made there since.

View from Windermere House

When we said that the Anne series was done in 1985, they got the book on the history of the hotel to check. In the meantime, one desk worker pulled up the Tripod site, while another googled Anne filming locations. While the Tripod site listed Windermere House on Lake Rosseau, IMDB for Anne filming Locations listed Windermere House in Windermere, British Columbia, Canada. We couldn’t imagine Sullivan traveling to the complete other end of Canada for one scene, but also didn’t think the site here resembled the White Sands.

Beautiful view from Windermere

So, for those who stop by this site, I am posting pictures of the Windermere House in Muskoka on Lake Rosseau (Listed as Bracebridge on the Tripod site). Is it the White Sands or not–you decide. I will say, whether or not it has a connection with Anne, The Windermere House offers great beauty for all who visit.

“Journey’s End” Montgomery’s last home

We started today (7/13/12) finishing off our excursions with Lucy Maud Montgomery by visiting the home she last lived in and suitable named “Journey’s End.” After the drive into Toronto, we found (and passed) Montgomery’s house. It is a private residence on a very crowded street, so we only stayed long enough to snap a few pictures. Not the time of reflection on her life which would be suitable, but alas, such is life in the city (and mom and I quickly decided we cannot stand cities–or at least city driving–Toronto did offer a selection of stores from just about every nation of the world…The traffic, however, was maddening.)

Spadina Museum–Aunt Jo’s

Leaving “Journey’s End,” we set off on our own journey to discover more of the sites of Avonlea. Eventually, I may make a map with all of the sites on it, as many are extremely difficult to find. Thankfully, as I learned from Katrina at Pickering Museum Village, Directors have a certain radius in which they can film, outside of which, they have to pay the actors more. So, many of the sites are within a reasonably short distance from Toronto (Short, not quick or easy). All addresses are in Toronto unless otherwise specified.)

Back of Spadina (Sanitarium)

We started our adventures with the Spadina Museum (285 Spadina Road) which served as Aunt Josephine’s house (inside and out). It also served as Captain Ames’ house and the Sanitarium in the Road to Avonlea series. Due to time constraints, we decided to skip the inside, but the house and gardens are truly beautiful. From the proprietress of this museum, we learned the address of Sullivan Entertainment, so we added that location to our plans as well.

After checking out De LaSalle College, (once again driving past and having to turn around), we got some pictures of the college (131 Farnham Avenue), which looked like Captain Harris’s Boston home, but later discovered, we missed the home which represented Maplehurst in the movie–I had seen the iron fence, but had assumed we had found the right spot. Alas…

Sullivan Entertainment

After that, we decided to swing through Sullivan Entertainment (110 Davenport Road) and see what we could see. We had little hope of a reception of any kind, but decided to go for it anyway. The Sullivan Entertainment building is secreted away, and we continued our experience of driving past a site and U-turning (as well as parking semi-illegally). We made it to the second floor, and the receptionist contacted someone else to come give us information about Sullivan’s projects.

Queens (Victoria College)

He informed us that they couldn’t let us see the studios as they were currently being rented to someone else, but gave us a map of the Avonlea Village layout, as well as two books of pictures from The Road to Avonlea series.

From there, we set off to Victoria College (110 Charles Street West) which serves as the Queens College in Anne of Green Gables. Victoria College is just one of the buildings on the campus of the University of Toronto. It was currently under construction, but I was able to get as few pictures anyway.

Distillery District

When we left, we went to the Distillery District (Mill and Cherry). It was a huge pain to get to due to construction around the District, but it had been recommended to us by Mandy, and we decided to check it out. It is the spot where “When she was bad, she was horrid” was filmed. The District was a neat place with a number of historic buildings. Once again, we were illegally parked, though, so we just took a few pictures and headed off.

Bridge where Anne and Gilbert meet in Kingsport

After that, we headed up to Edward’s Gardens (777 Lawrence Avenue East)–and drove past it again–but it was a beautiful site, which offered an unexpected surprise: They were filming an episode of “Covert Affairs” there. So, in addition to seeing the bridge where Anne and Gilbert meet when she’s teaching at Kingsport, we also got to see a scene of a TV show being shot. Fun times. An article I read said the gazebo they ran to is in the Gardens as well, but the ones we saw didn’t look like the one in the movie.

“Green Gables”

We were finally able to head out of the city and to Cedar Grove (Just past the intersection of Steeles and Reesor). This is the site of the house used as Green Gables. This too is private property with no pull off. The owners have allowed trees to grow between the house and the road, probably to obstruct the view. The orchard and field next to the property were also used in the production. We weren’t able to really enjoy the property.

The Bridge for the big kiss 🙂 and the Lily Maid

Finally, we went to Stouffville, to see the bridge used in the movie where Anne plays the Lily Maid, and later where she and Gilbert kiss. We had been told it was at Century Mills, but couldn’t find it previously. Jack Hutton told us it was at the Baptist church in town. In reality, it’s between the two (3885 Stouffville Road). We pulled into the Baptist church, ran into a kind man who helped direct us to the bridge, and set off. While horribly crooked, the bridge offered a lovely glimpse back in time. It was a lovely conclusion to our sight-seeing day.

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

The Collin’s House

After attending Catch the Fire Toronto (formerly the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship of revival fame), we set off for Pickering Museum Village. The village had come up on our search for Anne sites, and we were excited to see what we could find. It was a tad difficult to find, since we didn’t have an address, so for anyone else trying to find it, the address is: 2365 6th Concession Road in Greenwood, Ontario, Canada.

Cole House (Where Anne walked the Ridgepole)

Being a Civil War reenactor myself, I am quite at home in living history and love history done well. Pickering Village, from beginning to end, was just such a place. We had lucked out on the day to come to Pickering Village, since it was also The Duffins Creek Spring Fair. So in addition to the normal fun of the village, there were a number of activities and food to enhance the day. We were able to see metal rims fitted to a wheel; sample beans, bread, and rhubarb cake; and learn about local beekeeping and honey. Additionally, each reenactor was extremely knowledgeable.

When we first walked in and explained that we were from the states and interested in the Anne sites, we were directed to Mandy Smiles, who seems to wear a variety of hats

Spot where Josie walks the fence

in addition to her role as event programmer. Mandy had just finished judging the Beard and Moustache Competition, and, being an Anne fan herself, was quite willing to take us to all the filming locations around the Village.

First, we went to The Cole House, which served as Moody Spurgeon’s House in Anne of Green Gables, Angus McCorkadale’s house in Road to Avonlea and farmhouse in An Avonlea Christmas. It is the notorious spot where Anne both walked and fell off the ridge pole. It also sports the fence Josie Pye walked before jumping into Gilbert’s arms.

Oddfellows Hall, or the Carmody Town Hall

After that, we headed to the Oddfellows Hall, which today hosted the Quilt show, but was previously used as the site of Anne’s Christmas ball (Carmody Town Hall) and the staircase she and Diana walked down before the big dance. It was also used as the Avonlea Town Hall in a number of episodes of Road to Avonlea (My favorite being “The Materializing of Duncan McTavish.”) The Bible Christian Church was also used as the town hall in a number of episodes.

Additionally, we saw the Collin’s House, the Log House, and the Blacksmith’s Shop, all of which were used as various farmhouses in different Avonlea episodes. The General Store was also used in An Avonlea Christmas and as the Police Station in “Aunt Janet Rebels.”

Mandy told us that Pickering Museum Village will be hosting its own Anne of Green Gables Day, to celebrate their part in the Avonlea Series. The Anne of Green Gables Day will be held June 30, 2012, so anyone in the Toronto Area (or loyal fans from abroad), be sure to check it out.

Garden view of Parkwood Estate

Mandy also shared with us some of the other local sites, including The Parkwood Estate (270 Simcoe Street North in Oshawa), which was used in Anne the Continuing story, as Jack’s mother’s house and garden where they have tea at the end of the movie. (When we left, we were able to stop by there, though we didn’t get to tour the house, since we arrived about the time the gates were closed.) She also directed us to Katrina, who was able to help us find Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Toronto house, which we will visit another day.

All in all, our trip to Pickering Museum Village was an amazing time, and I was incredibly impressed with how helpful each staff member was, how knowledgeable and friendly each reenactor was, and in short, what a well run historical site this is!

King farm and barns (Road to Avonlea)

After spending some time at L.M.Montgomery’s Leaskdale home, we went on a quest for all things Anne. I had found a wonderful resource in http://greengables.tripod.com/locations , which listed a number of sites and exactly what buildings were used in which scenes. So, armed with minimal mapping and the GPS, we set out. Here are our findings:

The Avonlea Church (Pine Grove)

First, we went to the town of Uxbridge, which is the filming location for the Road to Avonlea series. Unfortunately for fans, all of the sets have long since been removed, except for the house and barn, which were used for the King house and barn. These are private property, but both can be viewed from the road (6th Concession Road near Goodwood). If you go around the corner (Goodwood and 7th Concession Road), you can find the Pine Grove church, which was used as the Avonlea church in both the Anne series and the Road to Avonlea.

Diana Barry’s and the Manse

From there, we headed to Gormley. The house used for Diana Barry’s house (also for the Minister’s House in Road to Avonlea) is located just outside the gate to Bruce’s Mill Conservation Area. Supposedly, the bridge on which Anne and Gilbert kiss is there as well, but I think that’s back in the park–you have to pay to get in on weekends, so we decided to explore that further on a weekday. The directions on the website were unclear, so I found a site I thought might be it, but I don’t think so.

Avonlea school house and lane

Finally, we tried to find the Simcoe County Museum, which had the building used for the Avonlea school house and the lane on which Anne and Diana walked when the boys threw berries at them. It is not on the street indicated by the website, but we got directions at a local store and found it with minimal problems. By getting there right at closing (4:30), we were able to skip the cost of admission and just take a few pictures, but as there are a number of historic buildings around, I’m sure it would be worth the time spent.

Stay tuned for more Anne sites to come.

The Historic Leaskdale church

Today (6/9/12), we headed into Leaskdale to the Leaskdale Manse. This was the home of Lucy Maud Montgomery from 1911 (Ewen took over the church in 1910) until the moved to Norval in 1926. The Lucy Maud Montgomery Society of Ontario has taken over caretaking both the Manse and the Historic Leaskdale Church where Ewan ministered. It was in the manse that Montgomery’s three sons (Stuart, Hugh (born stillborn), and Chester were born, and where she penned eleven of her novels.

The Corner where Montgomery would write

We met with Kathy from the Society who arranged to give us a tour of both the church and manse properties. Both have been renovated by the society. In the church, we got to see the original stain glass windows, and the pew where Montgomery sat to hear her new husband’s sermons. In the manse, we were able to see the extensive renovations the Society was able to undertake, making use of Montgomery’s journals and her own photographs for details. We were also able to see the corner where she sat to write her novels.

After leaving the museum, we went to the Heritage Railway station which is the station where both Lucy and later her cat, which she had shipped from Prince Edward Island, arrived. We then set out to explore the Anne of Green Gables filming locations.

The Historic Railway Station in Uxbridge

This (8/10/11) is officially out last full day in Prince Edward Island. Dark and early tomorrow morning, we will be headed for home. I’m sure there will be a few stops along the way–perhaps on our way home. This afternoon, we headed to Green Gables where the cast of Anne and Gilbert performed a few selections from the musical.

Cast of Anne and Gilbert at Green Gables

It was stunning, despite the challenges of a cramped stage. The girls worried in vain that the cast wouldn’t remember them, but everyone did, so they were able to take pictures with everyone in costume. The cast remained around after the show to talk to the crowd, hand out free tickets for children, and pose. Each was so kind and caring–truly doing the company proud. Check out their website at: http://www.anneandgilbert.com/index.php

Belmont School restored in Avonlea Village

We packed in the middle of our day before heading out for our last Wednesday Evenings with L.M. Montgomery. On the way, I had learned a few more Montgomery sites from my recently purchased guide book, so we decided to check some out. We were going to head to Belmont which boasted the Belmont school where Montgomery taught and two privately owned houses where she boarded, but when we were running short on time, we decided to forego it. Also, we remembered that we had seen the Belmont school in Avonlea Village, so the picture in the guidebook was taken before the move.

Marker at the Bideford School Site

We did, however, find the location of the Bideford school. It had been destroyed long ago, but they had erected a monument there to commemorate the place. Now, it is in the middle of a small community park. The location contains the monument, one stone chair?, an old outhouse, the remains of a pump, and one small picnic table. Just down the road from the Bideford Parsonage Museum, the site makes it easy to imagine Montgomery walking the path to and from school every day. We took the road from the school back to the Bideford Parsonage Museum.

The Wednesday Evenings with L.M. Montgomery meeting was a treat as usual. The hostess began by reading some selections from Montgomery’s journals in which she discussed both the writing of The Story Girl and when she received the published copy seven months later. She mourns the fact that both her grandmother and (Someone else–they said at the meeting it was her cousin Frederica, but she died in 1919–8 years later) couldn’t read the story and wonders if she’ll ever write again. Thankfully, she did. We then read a selection of The Story Girl: Two chapters, which were “A Dread Prophecy” and “Judgment Sunday.” They were lots of fun to perform–at least for our family who captured the principle roles of Beverly King/Narrator (Me), The Story Girl (Abby), Cecily King (Halla), and Aunt Janet (Mom).

Bideford Parsonage Museum

It was another delightful evening, and a bittersweet one. We have truly enjoyed learning and reading together in this small community of enthusiasts, and we will sorely miss being here–especially as next week will be a special presentation by Christina Wyss Eriksson, author of The Anne of Green Gables Treasury. (Robert Montgomery had recommended for us to meet her.) We have dearly loved our time on PEI, and it will be interesting to see how this project continues to unfold.

So, we journey on...

Thanks to all who have come along for the ride. It will continue–though not daily, as I can no longer afford to be up til 1-2 every evening assembling my day’s adventures. I will continue to post poems of Montgomery’s, as well as Robert Bolling’s, with some of the pictures I took to illustrate them. Additionally, I plan to visit Ontario over Fall Break to pick up that piece of Montgomery’s life. In the meantime, I will continue to post the various and sundry people who have left a legacy worth hunting for–wherever I find them to be lurking.

Having just procured a guidebook of important “Anne” places (albeit one published in 1998), we decided to set out today in search of “Anne’s House of Dreams.” It actually is not a Lucy Maud Montgomery site, but the guidebook described the loving care the owner had taken to decorate it like Anne and Gilbert’s house, and had even gone to the trouble of reconstructing the Avonlea School House. I was anticipating a fun “off the beaten tourism path,” but got nothing of the sort.

Anne's House of Dreams

We arrived at a run-down building next to a golf course. “Surely not…” I went into the golf store to ask. The woman running the store informed me that the house hadn’t been open for a long time, and that all the furnishings were gone. I asked whether she thought I should inquire of the people there and take pictures. She very firmly told me, “No. There’s nothing there.” Her firmness interested me (As did the fact that she claimed there had never been a tea room there (Something else the guidebook said), while the sign for the golf club boasted “Tea Room” on the back.), but I decided not to pry (this once). Besides, she could see me from the window if I walked over. So, instead, we pulled down the street, took a few pictures (out of sight of her window), then headed off.

Desks and slates in the Lower Bedeque School

With “Anne’s House of Dreams” dashed, we went back out to Lower Bedeque to investigate the school house. The guidebook explained that the house where Montgomery boarded was near the school house, and on our previous trip, we hadn’t been able to go inside. The museum was very fascinating. It was an amazing example of the love of a community and other countries. The school house had been completely dilapidated with walls falling in. The community decided it’s legacy should be preserved, so they undertook working on it. Somehow, the plight became known to Montgomery fans from Japan (who incidentally have been a major support to every place “Anne” related–There’s even a room in the Anne of Green Gables Museum dedicated to the contributions of the Japanese.) A pair of sisters from Japan involved their community group and ended up raising thousands of dollars to help restore the schoolhouse. Their correspondence is on display at the museum. The museum also contains costumes worn in the “Anne of Green Gables Musical,” a list of teachers who taught at the school (including Montgomery), and original desks and slates. The staff was incredibly friendly and helpful. Additionally, it is one of the free (donation based) museums.

The dashing Herman Leard

The staff directed us to the home where L.M. Montgomery boarded, but informed us it was family owned, so we could take pictures but not disturb them. From what they shared, it seemed like the house was owned by the Leard’s. Lucy Maud Montgomery boarded with them and fell in love with their son Herman, breaking off her engagement because of him. By Maud’s account, she never could have married him because he was “beneath her.” According to the staff of Lower Bedeque, the Leard’s story was that Maud threw herself at him, and he was engaged to someone else and indifferent to her. They shared that Montgomery stated in one of her journals that “He would never love her as she loved him.” It was interesting though–wish I could hear that story first hand. But, there was another name of the mailbox, so we decided to continue on.

Leard House viewed from the road.

We had found a coupon for free tickets to Anne and Gilbert: The Musical, and since it was the girls’ favorite and they had begged to see it again, we decided to do so. As we were sitting in the parking lot eating dinner, four of the cast members drove in. My nieces were beside themselves, so we went to get a program for people to autograph and waited for them to reappear. One of the actresses we talked to told us where to wait after the show to meet the cast. The musical was incredible again, and after the show, we headed to the designated spot. The cast was all amazingly kind, signing both girls programs.

The girls with the "Anne and Gilbert" cast

I’m not sure how many “repeat attenders” they get, but they were thrilled that the girls loved the play enough to see it twice in a week’s time. They also told us that they will be performing a few songs from the play tomorrow at Green Gables, which is right across the street from us. So, in addition to packing the car to go home and the Wednesdays with L.M. Montgomery, we’ll have something fun to do.

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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