Road to Avonlea

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

“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.

The Bala Museum Garden view

Yesterday, the bee keeper at Pickering Museum Village told us we had to visit the Bala Museum, so today we set off to check it out. What we found was not only a treasure trove of L.M. Montgomery information, but an amazing treasure in its proprietors as well.

First, one needs a bit of background on why the Museum at Bala is significant. Montgomery and her husband used to vacation in PEI until the summer of 1922 when Ewan was in the middle of a lawsuit over a driving accident. Because of the legal hassles, they were discouraged from leaving the area. The situation was eventually resolved, but not before it was too late for a trip to PEI. So, the couple made the 80 kilometer trek from Leaskdale to Bala. They didn’t actually stay at the Bala Museum, then called Treelawn Lodge, but the Roselawn Lodge across the street. The Roselawn Lodge, however, didn’t serve meals, so they took their meals at Treelawn. It was actually the summer she spent at Bala which inspired Montgomery’s The Blue Castle, the only Montgomery novel set outside of PEI.

Jack Hutton with some early Anne Memorabilia

The way the Huttons got the house is nothing short of a miracle of Providential timing. They had just gotten married and decided to take a trip to PEI because of Linda’s love of Lucy Maud Montgomery. Jack, a writer himself, went along with the idea because of his love for Linda, but remarked that he had, at the time, never read Anne because it was considered “sissy” by young boys in school. When his new wife read it to him on their honeymoon, however, he was hooked. He then purchased The Alpine Path, a collection of Montgomery’s poetry and fell in love with her work.

Meanwhile, Mary Rubio and Elizabeth Waterson, both Montgomery scholars, took a cruise on a steamboat in the area, trying to find the Island that is mentioned The Blue Castle. Mary and Elizabeth tried to find where Maud had stayed in Bala, and weren’t able to, so they left a note at the public library explaining she knew that Montgomery had stayed at Roselawn, but had mentioned in her journals taking her meals at a tourist home. “Does anyone know where that is?”

A portion of the collection of “Annes through the Ages”

When Jack and Linda returned, they were out taking a walk and saw the house for sale. They were fascinated by it, since it reminded them of the style they had seen in PEI. They toured it as a possible museum site, but dismissed it due to the long list of repairs needed. Then, the librarian showed them the letter from Mary Rubio. From a phone call to the owner of Roselawn, they were able to discover that Montgomery had stayed at Roselawn, but taken her meals at the very house they had toured. It had been owned by “Crazy Fanny,” who was described by Montgomery as “a lady cumbered by much serving.” When Linda discovered that the house where Montgomery had taken her meals was still around, and that, with the loss of the original lodge at Roselawn in the 1940’s, this would be the last tie to The Blue Castle and Montgomery’s experience in this area, she was appalled, especially when she learned there were plans to tear the house down due to its poor condition. She pleaded with Jack to buy the house, and he relented when he saw how important the project was to his new wife.

Silver tea service Maud received as a wedding present

The Huttons purchased the home, and Linda began a year of renovating the home. In addition to a stove they found in the shed from the 1920’s when Montgomery was staying there, the Hutton’s were able to find a number of antiques from the time period in order to decorate. David Montgomery, L.M. Montgomery’s grandson, first loaned several artifacts to the museum, then eventually decided they belonged with the house. The Huttons also have acquired one of the most complete sets of Montgomery’s books, including many first editions. They also have quite a bit of early Anne memorabilia, including the story of and actual first translation of the book into Japanese, translations into a number of languages, the only complete set of Green Gables imprinted dishes, the silver tea service given to Montgomery as a wedding present, and many Anne dolls and movies.

The boat Megan Follows rides in as the Lily Maid

Additionally, for the Anne of Green Gables fans, the Museum contains many items from both the Anne movies and The Road to Avonlea series, including costumes and even the Lily Maid boat in which Megan Follows, (who incidentally spent a summer with her family at Bala), played the Lady of Shalott.

But, in addition to the incredible collection of Anne items, we were entranced by the knowledge and stories of Jack Hutton, who shared so much of Maud’s life, even quoting extensively from her journals and works. As an added bonus, Jack is an incredible pianist, who performs on many of the steamboats nearby. He consented to play for us before we left. Jack and Linda co-authored a book entitled Lucy Maud Montgomery and Bala which shares, not only their story, but additional little known information about Montgomery. They have also recreated the Anne of Green Gables 1919 silent movie. This Museum is truly a jewel to visit.

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 , 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.

Story telling scene in "Follow the Fiddler"

Today (8/2/11), was supposed to be a rainy day, but it was clear when we woke up, so we decided to risk going to Victoria. Victoria doesn’t have anything to do with Lucy Maud Montgomery (Though the Victoria Women’s Institute managed to secure a grant by convincing the committee that it did because Anne and Gilbert: The Musical debuted there.), but it was on the way to “Gus’s Lighthouse” from the Road to Avonlea series, so we decided to stop in.

Victoria has the major attraction of a program called “Follow the Fiddler.” This is an incredibly imaginative way of telling the history of Victoria through a walking tour complete with fiddling, story telling, puppets, and an amazing finale with singing and dancing. It was definitely worth the price of admission ($18 for adults, kids 14 & under a free.) It actually ended up a connection to Montgomery after all, though. The finale featured the PEI anthem, written by Lucy Maud Montgomery herself (Unfortunately, I realized that too late to record it…).

Opening scene of the movies recreated

After that we headed to Seacow Head where “Gus’s Lighthouse” from the Road to Avonlea series is located (As well as some of the intro shots in Anne of Green Gables. It was amazing to see, though a storm was coming in, so it wasn’t as nice as it otherwise would have been. It’s been cool to rewatch the episodes and identify places we’ve been (Jasper’s barns and the lighthouse were featured on today’s episonde.)

L.M. Montgomery's School house in Lower Bedeque

Leaving there, we were planning on just heading to Summerside where we would catch Anne and Gilbert: The Musical, but as we were driving through Bedeque, I remembered that Lower Bedeque was the location of one of the schools L.M. Montgomery taught at during her three years of teaching. We located the building–the museum was closed–and were able to take a few pictures, a difficult task while trying to swat mosquitoes with the hand NOT holding the camera. I may revisit there again to see what all is inside the school house.

Evening at Summerside

Finally, we went to Anne and Gilbert: The Musical. We were super early, so I got to take a few evening pictures around Summerside. Then, it was time to start. The musical was very fun! I think we all enjoyed it better than Anne of Green Gables because we were so familiar with that story, while this one was an entirely unique story using the same characters. The kids loved it and were even singing songs from the production on the way home. Very well done indeed. Tomorrow, it’s another rainy day, so back to Charlottetown to research and then to Bideford for Wednesday Evenings with L.M. Montgomery.