I’ve been an Anne fan for many years.
Like thousands of other girls, I met that spirited, imaginative redhead when I was a child, when my mom gave me the first three Anne books. I read them over and over, delighting in the stories of Anne’s arrival at Green Gables, her mishaps and adventures as she adjusts to life in Avonlea, and her later experiences at Queen’s and then Redmond College. Later, I moved on to Anne’s time at Windy Poplars, her newlywed life in the House of Dreams, and adventures with her children at Ingleside.
I also love L.M. Montgomery’s other heroines: Emily Byrd Starr, Sara Stanley (better known as the Story Girl), Jane Stuart (of Lantern Hill). But Anne is and always will be my favorite.
All this to say: I have wanted to visit Prince Edward Island for years.
We made the drive in one long day, through Maine and New Brunswick. We reached the Island well after dark, flipping through our printed-from-Google directions, winding our way down well-paved but barely lit back roads. When we finally reached our wee guesthouse on the North Shore, we collapsed into bed, thankful we’d made it.
The next morning, we woke up and headed for Anne’s place.
Our guidebook suggested starting our journey at the L.M. Montgomery Homestead, where a tiny bookstore-cum-exhibit-area stands behind a white picket fence. (The photo above is the view from the bookstore.)
The site is run by descendants of Montgomery’s family, the Macneills, and one of them, David, gave us a brief history lesson before sending us out into the garden.
A narrow path (red clay, just like the roads Anne loved) winds through the trees, past the stone cellar of the Macneill farmhouse, the old well, a 100-year-old apple tree, and several plaques bearing extracts from Lucy Maud’s journals, about her old home.
The path forks, with one branch leading to the wee Green Gables post office, below. (Lucy Maud’s grandmother was the postmistress, and she used to help sort the mail – which came in handy when she started submitting manuscripts!)
The other trail continues down the hill and across a few fields (and a highway) into what is known as the Haunted Wood.
I enjoyed every step of that walk down twisting paths lined with trees, including the slim white birches Anne loved so well.
There’s an old log bridge over what I am certain is the real Dryad’s Bubble (the spring), and at the end of the path, you look up the hill – and Green Gables is right there.
We climbed up almost in silence, and I felt positively reverent as I entered the house. There’s no guided tour, though there are guides present to answer questions, and you’re free to wander through both floors.
I spotted so many details that felt familiar: the black horsehair sofa in the parlor, Matthew’s little room off the kitchen (with his suspenders hanging over a chair), the big, cheery kitchen (with geraniums on the windowsills!).
Upstairs is Marilla’s room, a larger sewing room (above), a back room off the hall for a hired hand, and – best of all – Anne’s bedroom, “sacred to the dreams of girlhood.”
This room, especially, was rendered in loving detail. Anne’s carpetbag, her boots under a chair, the yellow chair by the window, the low white bed – even the hard red velvet pincushion – are all here. And hanging on the closet door is the famous brown gloria dress with puffed sleeves.
It was so easy to imagine Anne sitting at that window, elbows propped on the sill and eyes full of dreams, or gathering flowers in the garden, or running down the hill to meet Diana on the log bridge. She seemed so near the whole time we were on the Island, as we drove past furrowed red fields, dark green spruce woods, or rounded a corner to glimpse the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
We loved everything about the Island. But one of the best parts was this green-and-white farmhouse among the trees. It felt at once brand-new and familiar – because, even though I’d never seen it, I’ve been going there for years.
More PEI photos and stories to come.
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