“Booklover” is a series on my blog that covers literary-related travel destinations and destination-related reading lists!
There are probably a lot of us out there who, like me, read “Anne of Green Gables” by Lucy Maud Montgomery when we were kids, and fell in love with that spunky little redhead from Prince Edward Island in Canada.
Not only did I read all of the 8 books in the Anne series, but many more of Montgomery’s novels, as well. You could say I’m a fan.
It was always kind of a far-fetched dream to one day visit this mythologically beautiful part of Canada that Lucy Maud so lovingly described in her books. Far-fetched because, well, PEI is quite a small island, and no one I know had ever been there. It seemed like one of those things I’d always dream of but never actually get to see.
“Dear old world’, she murmured, ‘you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.” – Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables) #books
— Maggie Abernathy (@dakota_gypsy) April 29, 2016
And then! When I planned out my two-month road trip in 2015, I decided I was definitely going to make the pilgrimage to PEI. I started researching what Anne-related activities were on the island, and my heart stopped beating for a moment when I learned that Green Gables is actually a real house.
Not only is it a real house, it’s decorated just as it would have been if Marilla, Matthew, and Anne were living in it. And you can go inside.
It’s basically a dream come true.
When I arrived on the island, I stayed with an absolutely fantastic couchsurfing host. I wasn’t sure I was even going to be able to find a host on a small island like PEI, but it’s proof that there are awesome, generous people all over the world! Another girl was couchsurfing with him, too, so he dropped both of us off at the museum for a solid afternoon of fangirling.
The Anne Museum costs $5.50 CAD for adults, and $2.00 CAD for children age 6-16 (5 & under are free). It begins with a movie about the life of Lucy Maud Montgomery and her books, and then you can walk around the house and property that inspired so many things in the novel.
It felt absolutely surreal to be strolling through the real Lovers Lane, and breathing in the sweet fresh air of Balsam Hollow after all those years of imagining what it might be like. Since I visited in early October, the trees were changing colors and the air was just beginning to turn crisp. Autumn is the shoulder season, though; the best time to visit is in the summer, when there are a lot more activities going on to cater to the flood of tourists.
Part of what made the experience so enjoyable is the attention to detail that the staff has put into creating an authentic ‘Anne’ experience. There’s even a dress hanging in Anne’s room – the very dress that Matthew insisted she have, against Marilla’s protests, in the novel.
After visiting the museum, we drove a short way down the road to visit Montgomery’s grave in Cavendish Community Cemetery. Montgomery lived from 1874 to 1942, and she’s buried with her husband, Reverand Ewen McDonald.
She published a total of 20 novels in her lifetime, was the first Canadian woman to join the Royal Society of Arts in Britain, and was awarded Officer of the Order of the British Empire. After she died, Canada declared Montgomery a person of national historic significance.
The popularity of Anne of Green Gables has brought a lot of tourism to the island, and the residents love to celebrate the legacy of the novel. In 2016, from June 29 – August 27, the Charlottetown Festival will feature Anne of Green Gables: The Musical.
There are plenty of places to buy Anne-related souvenirs and presents for your jealous friends! In addition to the museum gift shop, there are gift shops in the lovely downtown center of Charlottetown. You can even buy Raspberry Cordial – the infamous drink that Anne mixed up with liquor and accidentally got her friend Diana drunk. Don’t worry, these are actually Raspberry Cordial!
I’d highly recommend a visit to Prince Edward Island and the Anne of Green Gables museum if you’re able to make it to the far east coast of Canada. Not only are these activities a lot of fun, the island itself is gorgeous and the people are as friendly as could be (well, it is Canada).
If You Go…
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