Monday, September 5, 2011

Anne of Green Gables Museum

"It's good to be here again... There's something about Park Corner that isn't in other places..."
-L.M. Montgomery

The Anne of Green Gables Museum is located at Park Corner.  It's in the Campbell home that was built by Montgomery's aunt and uncle in 1872.  The house still belongs to the Campbell family some 230 years later.  This is the house that Montgomery called Silver Bush and it provides the inspiration for her descriptions of the house in her novel Pat of Silver Bush.

The museum houses many antique pieces that were in the house at the time Montgomery would have visited it.  There is also a great collection of some of Montgomery's belongings, some original family photos and also first editions of Montgomery's books.

The rooms are small but very well laid out and the house is more spacious than it might appear from the outside.

Three years after Anne of Green Gables was published Montgomery married Ewan Macdonald in the parlour of this house.  Tourists still come from all over the world to be married in that room or on the grounds near the Lake of Shining Waters.  Montgomery's wedding dress is housed at her birthplace.

I found the museum to be a wonderful tribute to Montgomery's life and work.  The grounds are beautiful and it's well worth visiting if you're on PEI.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Lake of Shining Waters

"…the Lake of Shining Waters was blue — blue — blue; not the changeful blue of spring, nor the pale azure of summer, but a clear, steadfast, serene blue, as if the water were past all modes and tenses of emotion and had settled down to a tranquillity unbroken by fickle dreams." 
-Anne of the Island

L.M. Montgomery's inspiration for Anne's Lake of Shining Waters was a pond at Park Corner just next to the Campbell Homestead, home of her uncle John Campbell.

It is a beautiful spot to visit.  These days, there is a lovely little garden with benches and a gazebo nearby.  The staff of the Anne of Green Gables Museum, which now resides in the Campbell Homestead, told us that tourists from all over the world come to be married at the shores of the pond.

The pond is certainly much smaller than the lake described in the Anne books, but that's the power of imagination.  Montgomery admitted in her journals that some inspiration may also have come from the Cavendish Pond.

“‘The Lake of Shining Waters’ is generally supposed to be the Cavendish Pond.  This is not so.  The pond at Park Corner is the one I had in mind.  But I suppose that a good many of the effects of light and shadow I have seen on the Cavendish pond figured unconsciously in my descriptions; and certainly the hill from which Anne caught her first glimpse of it was ‘Laird’s Hill’ where I have often stood at sunset, 
enraptured with the beautiful view of shining pond and crimson-brimmed harbor and dark blue sea.”

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Red Roads

"But those red roads are so funny.  When we got into the train at Charlottetown and the red roads began to flash past I asked Mrs. Spencer what made them red and she said she didn't know and for pity's sake not to ask her any more questions."
-Anne of Green Gables

I've returned from my Prince Edward Island trip (though I didn't want to leave).  The island is every bit as beautiful as one would gather it to be from reading L.M. Montgomery's work.  The red roads are truly spectacular.  They pop out from the emerald fields and run for miles all around and over the rolling hills.

I had to look up what causes them and I don't think understanding the science behind them makes them any less magical to look at.  Most of PEI is made up of wonderful red sandstone.  Over time, the stone is eroded by wind and water and broken down into the soil.  Iron is what causes the red colour.  Apparently, it's not only beautiful but ideal for growing potatoes, grains and other crops.

I collected a bag of the reddest soil I could find and it's now inhabiting a jar on my bookshelf next to my Montgomery books.  

Over the next month or so I'm going to be posting all about my trip.  I took over 400 photos and I hope you'll enjoy them!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel

Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel (titled Anne of Avonlea in the US), despite its awful title is actually quite good.  It first aired on May 19, 1987; about two years after Kevin Sullivan's successful Anne of Green Gables was released.  The story was written by Sullivan based on Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island and Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery.  The film was also produced and directed by Sullivan.
Even though the film is cobbled together from various sources and many details are changed from the original novels, it somehow remains consistent with the tone set in Montgomery's work and the tone of the first film.  It begins with Anne as the Avonlea school teacher and a frustrated writer as her short stories continue to be turned down by publishers.
Diana has become engaged to Fred Wright and Anne is somewhat disappointed that her friend has gone for a man who is nothing like her childhood ideal.  Diana proves that she will always be a great friend to Anne by slightly altering one of her stories and submitting it to a contest to advertise baking powder.  Anne is somewhat shocked to find that she has won!
As much as Anne seems to have grown up she is still a free spirit and can still get into mischief.  I love the cow incident from Anne of Avonlea in which she accidentally sells Mrs. Lynde's cow and she and Diana ruin their dresses by chasing after the cow through a muddy field.  This film also continues Mrs. Lynde's story.  Her husband Thomas becomes very ill and dies.  Rachel is forced to consider leaving her beloved Avonlea to live with her son in the west.
Gilbert asks Anne to marry him (twice) and she refuses saying that he will always be a great friend but that she can't love him as a wife.  With Diana's life changing, Marilla's eye sight improving and wanting to escape from Gilbert, Anne decides to accept a post as English professor at Kingsport Ladies College in Nova Scotia.  Her old teacher, Miss Stacey, has recommended her.  Marilla decides to invite Rachel to live with her at Green Gables and Anne feels free to go when she knows Marilla will not be left alone.
Anne arrives in Kingsport to find the town is dominated by the various clans of the Pringle family. They do not like outsiders--especially when they are orphans who write short stories.  The Pringle girls and their parents make the first few weeks of Anne's term extremely difficult but Anne does find a kindred spirit in one of her students, Emmeline Harris.  After an incident in which Anne and Emmeline fall through the roof of the caretaker's shed, Mr. Harris removes Emmeline from school and withdraws his financial support from KLC.
The school board wants Anne to resign but Miss Stacey convinces them to keep her on for the rest of the term.  In order to try to make up for the financial losses, Anne mounts a play with her students. The process helps most of the Pringle girls to come together and understand Anne.  The event is a huge success and the school board offers Anne a five-year contract.  The only person who remains bitterly against Anne is the school principal, Miss Katherine Brooke.
In the midst of all this, Anne approaches Emmeline's grandmother, Mrs. Harris, to ask if she can continue tutoring Emmeline outside of school.  The tyrannic old woman agrees.  Over time, Anne's kindness and spirit bring light and joy to the old Harris mansion for the first time in years.  Bitter Mrs. Harris comes to love Anne until her death sometime later.  After the funeral, Emmeline leaves Kingsport to live with her father in Boston.  But not before Mr. Harris, enchanted with Anne and what she has been able to do for herself and his family, asks her to marry him.  It is at that moment that Anne realizes she has made a grave mistake.  She does love Gilbert and she declines Mr. Harris' proposal.
Throughout her time in Kingsport, Anne has struggled to make a friend of Katherine Brooke. Brooke is a strict disciplinarian.  She does not like teaching and takes it out by being miserable to everyone around her.  Eventually, Anne's persistence breaks down the walls the Katherine puts up. Anne invites her to spend the summer at Green Gables and Katherine accepts.  She finally opens up to Anne and confesses that what she really wants to do is travel and see the great sights of the world.  
Meanwhile, Gilbert has completed his first year as a medical student.  He is engaged to a woman called Christine but at the end of the term he catches Scarlet Fever and calls off the wedding.  He knows that Anne is the only one he'll ever love.  Anne has taken Gilbert's old advice and written a collection of stories about Avonlea.  Her first book is published shortly after she arrives home.  She takes a copy to Gilbert, who is deathly ill, and her love gives Gilbert the strength to fight back to health.
Once recovered, Gilbert asks Anne to marry him once more.  This time she accepts and a new epoch in her life begins.
My only real criticism of this film is that the hairstyles are sometimes far too huge and ridiculous! It's true that the large, loose "puff" was the style for young women at this time but sometimes Megan Follows looks like she has about twenty pounds of fur on her head!

All in all, this is really entertaining film and a good addition to the mythos of Anne of Green Gables.

All images are owned by Sullivan Entertainment.  No copyright infringement is intended.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Anne of Green Gables: The Musical

We've purchased our tickets to see Anne of Green Gables: The Musical at the Charlottetown Festival during our trip.  I hear that the production has recently been revamped so it will be interesting to see what changes have been made.  The script revisions are being made by Don Harron who is the only remaining creator of the original musical.  The production also has a new director, Marcia Kash, who has a "new concept" and a "new design."
I previously saw a production of Anne at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto in 1991.  Jessica Wilson appeared as Anne in that production.  Unfortunately, I cannot find my ticket or program and I usually save those!

Anne of Green Gables: The Musical has been running continuously in PEI for 46 years!  There's also a relatively new production called Anne & Gilbert: The Musical which launched in 2005 in Summerside.  I haven't yet bought tickets for that one but I hear that it's also quite good so I may try the box office if I have time.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Light in Mother's Eyes

Lucy Maud Montgomery lost her mother when she was not yet two years old.  No doubt, growing up without a mother informed some of her creation of Anne Shirley.

In celebration of Mother's Day, here is a poem by L.M. Montgomery.

Dear beacon of my childhood’s day,
The lodestar of my youth,
A mingled glow of tenderest love,
And firm unswerving truth,
I’ve wandered far o’er East and West,
’Neath many stranger skies,
But ne’er I’ve seen a fairer light
Than that in mother’s eyes.

In childhood, when I crept to lay
My tired head on her knee,
How gently shone the mother-love 
In those dear eyes on me,
And when in youth my eager feet 
Roamed from her side afar,
Where’er I went, that light divine
Was aye my guiding star.

In hours when all life’s sweetest buds
Burst into dewy bloom;
In hours when cherished hopes lay dead,
In sorrow and in gloom;
In evening’s hush, or morning’s glow,
Or in the solemn night,
Those mother eyes still shed on me
Their calm unchanging light.

Long since the patient hands I loved
Were folded in the clay,
And long have seemed the lonely years,
Since mother went away,
But still, I know she waits for me
In fields of Paradise,
And I shall reach them yet, led by
The light in mother’s eyes.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Anne of Avonlea

"Having adventures comes naturally to some people," said Anne serenely.  "You just have a gift for them or you haven't."
This week I re-read L.M. Montgomery's sequel to Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea.  It chronicles Anne's life in her mid-teens as she becomes the Avonlea village school teacher and helps to found a village improvement society.  

Almost immediately the reader can tell that Anne has grown up.  Though she's still filled with flowery language and prone to daydreaming about the beauty of nature she has come a long way from the troubled girl she was.  As grown up as she has become, Anne can still make mistakes.  The most memorable one from this volume is when Anne believes her cow has escaped (again) and is running free in the fields.  She impulsively sells it on the spot only to realize that her cow is safely locked up at home!  I think Montgomery is telling us that we will make mistakes all our lives and the important thing is that we learn from them and make certain we take responsibility for them.

Montgomery introduces a colourful new character in this book as a new neighbour for Anne and Marilla: Mr. Harris.  Harris lives alone with a crude-talking parrot so everyone assumes he is an unmarried bachelor until his estranged wife comes to Avonlea.  Other new characters include Davy and Dora Keith.  These twin children are distant relatives of Marilla's and she takes them in after their mother dies. Davy's mishaps make up for the lack of Anne's.  She's now in a position to help another young person learn from their mistakes.

I find it incredible that 16 year-olds could be school teachers!  Anne becomes a teacher before even going to college.  My grandmother became a teacher in the 1950s at the age of 19 so I suppose it's not far-fetched but it certainly is different from the way things tend to happen today.  I'd say that most teenagers today are nowhere near responsible enough to take on such a role.  Life was much more difficult a hundred years ago so I expect most people had to grow up quite quickly.  In many ways we are quite spoiled today.  I know I have been!

Montgomery's romantic language continues to evolve in this novel.  It's written in a very episodic fashion so it's perfect for reading to children or for children to read one chapter at a time.  Though we miss childhood-Anne acutely there is enough of her remaining in her teenaged self so that we remain in love with her.  As much as we might wish it would, time will never stand still.  Children always have to grow up.  Anne remains young by dealing closely with other children.  She understands their spirit and their needs and is able to encourage them while still helping to mold them into proper adults.  This novel is an interesting exploration of the transitional time of adolescence and the adventure continues...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Visiting Avonlea Village: Part Two

If you haven't seen Part One, Check it out too!

One of the most clever sets in the village was the covered bridge.  It was on tracks close to the post office so that it could be moved on to the road when needed and then moved off to the side.  It was a great use of the limited space available.

The blacksmith's shop was a very detailed set.  It was amazing to see all the dressing and props that made it look so authentic.

The lighthouse was a crucial set.  It really helped make the village believable as a seaside location. There was a full-size lighthouse which was visible from the road and also a smaller stunt version which made it easier to get close-ups of actors at the top.  It was also used when someone had to be thrown or fall from the top.

I was really impressed with the design and construction of all the sets in the village.  We were fortunate to see some of the process on our visit.  The left side of this photo shows the Cannery facade and on the back of that the crew is building what would become Jasper Dale's house.  

Obviously, one of the huge highlights (of many) during the visit was being able to stand on the porch of Rose Cottage.  This house was almost as important as Green Gables itself.  It was neat to be able to see the small wallpapered area inside the front door that lead to nowhere!

Peg Bowen's shack was another really great set.  There was a lot of detail with great stuff hanging from the trees and interesting papers on the interior wall.  

The "main street" area with the general store and post office was yet another highlight.  There was so much detail that it didn't feel like a set.

Our tour guide for the day was Dan Matthews who served as location manager on Road to Avonlea and Wind at My Back.  Matthews has been a long-time employee at Sullivan Entertainment and most recently worked on the high definition restoration of Anne of Green Gables.

This last image is a scan from an issue of TV Guide shortly after Road to Avonlea ended its seven-year run.  I'm so grateful that I was able to see these amazing sets before they were destroyed.