Prince Edward Island

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:

Cynthia’s Advice to Beginners
“Around the Table,” Halifax Daily Echo,
Monday, May 12, 1902.
Lucy Maud Montgomery

Amateur photographers have to suffer a good deal of equally amateur joking, but when all is said and done there is really no “hobby” which has such a fascination or out of which more pleasure can be extracted. Of course one must be in earnest about it and not be a mere dabbler.

Montgomery's "Weird Friend" picture

There is nothing beautiful about a weird snapshot of your friends or a slap-dash exposure where the houses come out slanted at an angle that surpasses the leaning tower of Pisa. But a really pretty bit of scenery, nicely furnished and properly mounted, reminiscent of a pleasant summer day’s walk or outing is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. Several friends of mine have recently invested in cameras and have asked me for some advice regarding the use and abuse of them. So I will give a few pointers from experience.

In amateur photography, even more than anything else, the golden rule is “carefulness.” You simply can’t be careless if you would succeed in producing photos worth having. The most trifling oversight will sometimes spoil a good picture. If you make your exposures in a slap-dash style, if your darkroom leaks light, if your hypo solution is not kept religiously apart from your developer, if you do or leave undone a hundred other things you will fail to obtain good results.

Collection of Montgomery's landscape shots

In starting out, don’t attempt too much at first and recklessly expose half a dozen plates before developing one. Make haste slowly. A 4 by 5 camera is large enough for a beginner. Get all the supplies necessary, for, of course, you will not be content to be a “button pusher,” but will do your own developing and finishing. Above all, get a good darkroom lantern. Misplaced economy here will result in worry and disappointment. In spite of some opinions to the contrary, I think a beginner would do well to commence with a slow brand of plates. Indeed I like the slow plates best at any time. I consider that they yield more artistic results.

In your darkroom have a place for everything and keep everything rigidly in its place. Dust your plates before putting them in the holders. A camel’s hair brush is used for this, but, if some time you can’t find it, draw the palm of your hand softly over the plate, taking care that it-your hand-is quite dry. If you are ever where you cannot gain access to a darkroom and yet want to change plates, here is a plan I have followed with success. Get into a windowless closet, sit on the floor and get somebody to put right over your head a heavy quilt-a red one if possible. Then have the door shut tightly and change your plate. In summer this is a fearfully warm job, but it is better than getting your plates light-struck.
Choose your view carefully with an eye to light and shade effects. You will always get better results by using a tripod and taking time exposures, although of course this requires more skill. In regard to exposures no cut-and-dried formulas are of any use. The time is regulated by the strength of light and the kind of plates used. In this you must simply learn by making mistakes. Do not take pictures between eleven and three o’clock. The results are never so good.

In developing don’t under-develop. A beginner is fatally apt to, getting alarmed when the picture begins to fade and whisking it out of the solution. Leave it until very dim and indistinct. Wash well before putting in hypo. The use of an alum solution will prevent “frilling”-which means that the film curls up around the edges of the plate. In cold weather you will have no trouble with this. After your plate is taken out of the hypo, soak it in water for half an hour. If not in running water, change the water six times. This is very important as the least bit of hypo left on the film will eventually spoil it. Above all things, be thorough. Don’t be content with “good enough.” Aim at the best.
A pretty effect may sometimes be obtained in a landscape picture by cutting out of white paper a tiny new moon and pasting it properly on the glass side of the negative. The result is a “summer moonlight scene”. You can take pictures by moonlight, by the way. The exposure calls for hours instead of seconds. Generally the result looks more or less like a foggy plate exposed in the usual way, but very beautiful effects have been obtained in this way. However, I do not advise beginners to attempt it.

If you want to take a “winter moonlight scene,” here is how you go about it. Take an ordinary negative of some landscape. Don’t have leaf trees in it. Evergreen trees and an old farm house or so make the best picture for this. Place it in the printing frame, film upward. On top of this place a fresh plate, the two film sides together and back them with a bit of black cloth for greater security. Then hold frame about 18 or 20 inches from gas jet and turn up gas quickly. Time of exposure will vary from 2 to 20 seconds, according to character of light, plate, and negative used. After exposure develop the plate as usual. It is called a positive. Paste a full moon in proper position on its back and print off. The sky will come out black while the ground and trees will be white with-apparently-snow. The effect will be very pretty. I may add that your “positive” is also a magic lantern slide.

Montgomery self-portrait

Sometimes your camera will play you very odd tricks. I have had some curious pictures result from accidentally exposing the same plate twice. This is how “ghost” pictures are made. Once I took a picture of two girlfriends of mine standing side by side. Later on I happened to re-expose the same plate on a landscape view. The latter came out very well. The girls were also there, wan, transparent figures with all the background clearly visible through them. It was apparently a perfect picture, which, of course, does not often result by chance.

Well, I hope you will get a great deal of pleasure out of your cameras this summer. It will be your own fault if you don’t, be sure of that.

Having been back in the glorious States for less than a week, I still have on my mind all the differences between America (Indiana) and Canada (PEI). In addition to the exchange rate, which used to be in our favor (Alas, no more…), there are a number of things to know that might make a trip to Prince Edward Island a bit easier (in no particular order.)

1. You can cross INTO PEI on the Confederation Bridge for free. Getting off will cost you $43.50. The Ferry is the other option. (We didn’t take it, so I’m not sure of the cost.)

Downtown Charlottetown

2. There are only two cities in PEI: Summerside and Charlottetown, both in the center of the island–about 30 minutes apart. Gas is cheaper in either of these locations by about 2 cents a liter. Also, you can find large grocery stores (Sobeys), American Restaurants (McDonalds, Burger King, etc.), and Large Department stores (Old Navy, Walmart, etc.).

3. Speaking of gas, it impressed me that in the entire three weeks we were there, gas only changed in price once–and then by 2 cents a liter. Not like here, where it varies 30 cents/gallon driving across town. (It did, however, annoy me that none of the pumps had the little switch allowing you to prop the gas on, so you had to hold the nozzle the entire time…Yes, we’re spoiled.)

4. Speaking of cities, a frustration we found is that the majority of small towns are not listed on the GPS, so it is difficult to type in an address when the town the address is in does not exist (according to the GPS).

5. Additionally, the highways labelled on the map have different names when you are driving around, (i.e. Highway 11 may be Allen Road–and four others along the way) so pay careful attention to the maps provided by visitor centers–you can USUALLY figure it out. Also, you can occasionally (at times when the road is listed) search by intersection.

6. Though the GPS may be utterly useless in many respects, it is helpful for those of us with cars and brains not experienced in calculating kilometers. Letting the GPS be your speedometer is very helpful.

7. Also, you will never (unless you are speeding) go over 60 mph anywhere on the island (90 kms). Many places are about 35 (50). And the speed may go from 50 km to 90 and back to 50 in a matter of a half mile.

8. The temperature may also go from 50 to 90 degrees (Fahrenheit) in a day as well.

9. In the area of dining, you have the options of grocery stores, “Lobster Suppers” (usually consisting of seafood chowder, lobster, mussels, potatoes, rolls, and lemon meringue pie), restaurants (only the cities offer the typical American names), home baking, and fruit/vegetable stands. All are good (though restaurants are pricier than their American varieties.)

Cavendish Beach

10. Beaches: There are certain ones that are open to everyone and ones where you have to get a “beach pass” to drive the road to get to them. Our lodging had free beach passes you could pick up. Otherwise, the attendants usually leave around 6/6:30, so if you’re going out to watch the sunset, the guards have left the station, and you can go anywhere you want.

11. Mosquitoes are horrible, and many of the beaches have poison ivy, so spray well and watch where you explore.

12. For entertainment, pick up a magazine called The Buzz, or find it online at Ceilidhs are offered somewhere on the island every day of the week. All have a charge to get in (usually $8-15 for adults and $3-10 for kids depending on age) and feature a variety of musical styles. Avonlea Village has one of the regular evening groups play throughout the day (included with price of admission), and the Preserve Company in New Glasgow offers a “free” lunchtime Ceilidh, where you’d either have to buy lunch or stand outside to listen.

13. Beach trails are marked by a starfish or a picture of a beach and Green Gables trails are marked by a picture of Green Gables. Roads stating “No Exit: Impasse” lead to the beach, but you probably have to park on a dirt road or in the grass.

14. If you charge something to your credit card, in addition to the exchange rate, you will be charged a “Foreign Transaction Fee.” In some cases, this is an additional 10%. Taxes on purchased items are also well over our Indiana 7%.

15. It’s called a Washroom, not a restroom or bathroom.

16. Trash comes in 3 varieties: Waste, Compost, and Recycle. Occasionally, there will be pictures to help you determine what goes where.

One farm view

17. Additionally, there are 4 main regions of PEI. Top to bottom takes about an hour and a half to get to, side to side takes between 3 and 4. Charlottetown and Summerside are about 30 minutes apart and mostly in the middle.

18. There’s a line from Anne and Gilbert: The Musical which states, “And if you think your farm, it has the finest view, you’re Island, you’re Island through and through.” Driving around, it’s easy to see why each farm thinks their view’s the best. Anywhere you go will be a treat.

Hope this helps those planning a visit. It’s well worth it!

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:

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.

Well, it was another rainy day in PEI today (8/8/11). I headed back to Charlottetown, this time in pursuit of Holland College (formerly the Prince of Wales College when Lucy Maud Montgomery attended it–apparently, they’re changing the name back.)

Rainy day view from the window

It was POURING when I arrived at Holland College, but I did manage to get a picture of the archway boasting the slogan “Ich Dien” over the door. Lucy Maud mentions it in the Valedictory address she wrote for James H. Stevenson: “Let us take the sublime yet simple motto as our own: ‘Ich Dien–I serve’ And let us serve–not ignoble ends, petty factions and the darker passions of human nature, but rather acknowledge as our masters only the noblest thoughts and motives, the highest aspirations, and the kindliest feelings between man and man. Such a servitude would be glorious indeed.”

Arched Entrance of Holland College

During the summer, there are not a lot of faculty around Holland College, so I went in the first lighted office I could find. The staff there had no information on the onb campus information about Montgomery, but kindly helped me find me to the bookstore. There was nothing covered in the history of the college, but it was a recent history, so that was a dead end. The bookstore clerks gave me the names of two Montgomery scholars before the fire alarm sounded, cutting off our conversation, and we had to evacuate the building. It was still raining.

Luckily, I exited the building directly across from Montgomery Hall. There were no dormitories in Montgomery’s time at the college, but this one was named for her when it was built. As a matter of fact, the building she was in (which she complains in the valedictory address was too small and pleads that “the powers that be will see fit at no distant day to provide us with a more commodious building”) was a wood building in the style of the Confederation building. She eventually got her wish six years later in 1900 when the wood building was replaced with a stone building. Then, in 1932, ten years before Montgomery’s death, the building burned down, and is now replaced by the modern campus.

Montgomery Hall Prince of Wales Campus

Leaving the campus, I set out in search of the PEI Museum where one of my recommended targets was to be working. After typing the address into the GPS, I arrived to find, not a museum, but a food pantry. I drove to the end of the road and the sign boasted the Museum at a different address than the internet claimed. I drove back down the street only to find, not a museum, but a large, orange warehouse. It had a keypad entry, and though there were three cars in the parking lot, no one answered my knocks. So, things must have changed.

Target number 2 was supposed to be “in North Rustico by the wharf. It’s next to the Blue Mussels Restaurant. She’s the house on the right with a fence.” Upon arrival, the only “house on the right” had no fence and was a summer cottage (Again no answer when I knocked, but no cars either.) I knocked on two more doors (still in the pouring rain) before admitting defeat (and it was getting close to the time I said I’d be home.) I drove by Jem’s Books and picked up a guidebook (admiring their collection of British Harry Potters), stopped by and purchased some “home baking,” and went home.

Today's haul of Agate

We decided to go sea glass looking again. This time, we headed to swimming rock (little luck–very rocky shore), then out to Cavendish Beach. Instead of Sea Glass (And driftwood, which was now on my list of things to find), we found tons of agate, so we spent about an hour there (getting soaked), and came home. I tried to Google the two targets I was given, and I discovered they are both published authors and major speakers, so finding them might not be as easy as I was led to believe. We’ll see. Thanks to the guidebook, I have a few more sites to peruse before departure on Thursday.

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!

Gilbert and Moody sword fighting

Our pass for Avonlea Village was good for two days, so today (8/6/11), we decided to use our other day. I thought it might be boring going to the same things, but it was an even better experience the second time. One thing I knew, but hadn’t registered, is that there are different actors that come and go, so every day is unique. For today’s cast, Gertie Pye was absent, Moody Spurgeon McPherson was added, the former Josie was playing Diana, and there was a new Josie Pye. The principal actors remained the same, but there is a different dynamic when different people come in, and the girls especially loved Moody (largely because he provided another boy to keep Gilbert company, and the two ran all over town, sword fighting and tormenting the girls of the cast.) Additionally, the script is altered by the addition and subtraction of other characters. Another fun change was the addition of men’s swimwear to the fashion show with Gilbert and Moody modeling 1900’s swimwear.

Square Dance with the cast

The girls also participated in hair braiding with Anne and Diana, and I was reminded again how versatile these actors have to be to be able to perform all over town (ad-libbing both dialogue and activities), sing, dance, and relate well with children. It’s a tall order for them. We also learned that Gilbert (in addition to playing guitar, trumpet, singing, and playing with children) is getting ready for medical school (like the “real” Gilbert Blythe), so this may be his last summer as Gilbert. It was an amazing afternoon.

Then, in the evening, we attended a Ceilidh. Almost every piece of literature promoting PEI recommends this as a necessary part of the island experience, and after attending, I would agree. There are Ceilidh’s every night of the week somewhere on the island, so it’s very easy to attend. At first we thought some of them were free because the price wasn’t posted, but that isn’t the case. The only free one I’m aware of is at the Preserve Company for the lunchtime hour.

The girls with Richard Wood "backstage"

When we knew they all cost, we decided to ask the group at Avonlea Village (which is made up of a few Ceilidh groups) which one would be the best. The bass player recommended Richard Wood, as he’s “the best fiddler on the island.” It was indeed an unforgettable evening. After the show, his girlfriend suggested we go meet him, so we took the girls whom he gave autographs. That was definitely one of the most memorable experiences they have had here.

Hollyhock in the Green Gables garden

We are getting to the point in our trip where we’ve visited most of the major attractions and are now trying to fill in the gaps. Today (8/5/11), it was cloudy in the morning, so I typed a few things, getting ready for all I have to put together. Then, mom and I decided to revisit Green Gables. Last time we were there, we had spent the majority of our time in the Haunted Woods, so we decided to walk the entirety of Lover’s Lane. I was trying to find a picture Lucy Maud Montgomery had taken of the end of Lover’s Lane. Unfortunately, now the end of Lover’s Lane is netting put up by the golf course that’s in and around Green Gables. (A sacrilege, I think…) I did, however get some cool pictures of the garden since the sun was out.

After that, we decided to go to the beach to look for sea glass. I had checked the schedule of the tides, so I knew when we might find something. I found more amazing agate than sea glass, but did manage to find about six pieces. We have another spot to check another time.

Sunset in Cavendish

We finished off the evening sunset chasing–this time to the grocery store, but it had a cool woods behind it. Tomorrow, we’re back to Avonlea Village to see what else we can discover there.

At the Ceilidh in Avonlea Village, one of the players joked about the way Islanders give directions for how to get somewhere. Today (8/4/11), we got a first hand experience with the real thing. We set out this morning to see if we could find L.M. Montgomery’s Aunt Emily Campbell’s house (the one after which New Moon was modeled). I knew it was in Melpeque, and that was it. We stopped in at a museum to ask, and got the following directions: Go right at the church, then turn left–Go straight; don’t go down by the wharf. After that, take a right at the dirt road. Then, look for the other dirt road, and it’s right there on the left.

New Moon (and the road to it.)

Got it?

Sooo, we set out and drove around a bit. Finally, we found a dirt road that was called “Montgomery Street.” We figured that might be a clue, so we turned down it. At the end was a house that looked like the pictures I’ve seen of New Moon. I went to the door and asked if it was the house, and it was. (Score!) They let me walk around and take pictures. I’d asked if they’d found anything in the house (They bought it in the 1960’s), but they said they hadn’t found anything yet, though there were some built-in drawers and cabinets they hadn’t checked yet. It was fun to find, anyway.

After that, we checked out a few beaches, then went back to “Silverbush,” which is the location of the Anne of Green Gables Museum and the Lake of Shining Waters. We had found out that the location was still owned and operated by the Campbell cousins, so I wanted to see if I could interview some of them. Pam Campbell was working, so she shared a bit of her family history with me. Her father was James Campbell, a close correspondent of L.M. Montgomery’s for many years, and one with whom she shared deep hardships in her life. One especially interesting display showed a letter Maud had written him begging him not to go to war, as he was the only male Campbell (and fretting that her son would be sent to war.) She also shared some of her disappointment in her older son’s choices (and failed marriage), and her worries over her husband. In light of the letter supposedly predicting her suicide, it was interesting to read another source in which Montgomery shares her deep personal pain.

"Silverbush" The Anne of Green Gables Museum

Pam also shared personal anecdotes about her father. She explained that he and Maud connected over their shared love of nature and books. He disregarded her interests about war and enlisted anyway, but had a slight stammer, so he was rejected as a radio operator. He later wanted to be a banker, but Maud convinced him (and invested for him) to stay on the Campbell property, though his daughter states he wasn’t the best farmer. She also shared that Maud was very “into” clothes and jewelry and would bring her trinkets over to show Georgie. In one such instance, Maud asked Georgie which piece she’d most want if she could have any of them. Her selection turned out to be a piece of dime-store jewelry.

Cavedish Beach

Finally, we ended the evening driving over to Cavendish Beach and taking a few more pictures. We’ll see what new adventures tomorrow brings!

Next Page »