Sunday, February 27, 2011

Leaksdale Manse

In July 1911, L.M. Montgomery married Rev. Ewen Macdonald.  Shortly thereafter, the couple moved to Leaksdale, Ontario where Macdonald took charge of St. Paul's Presbyterian Chruch. Montgomery wrote 11 of her 22 books while living at what has come to be called the Leaksdale Manse.

Over the years, there have been many changes and restorations to the manse.  The original building dates to 1886.  It became an Ontario Historical Site in 1965.  In 1974, white stucco was applied to the entire building; covering the beautiful limestone bricks.  This is the state the building was in when I was able to visit it in 1992.
In 2001, Uxbridge Township removed the stucco and restored the original brick.  Since then, even more efforts to restore the building have taken place and in 2011, the Township began negotiations to sell the manse to the Lucy Maud Montgomery Society of Ontario.  This will likely be a long process but the LMM  Society would be wonderful custodians of the building.

I hope to be able to visit the manse again this year before my trip to PEI.

Further Reading:
February 12, 2007 article about the manse in the Toronto Star
January 28, 2011 article about the manse in Durham Region

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Beginning

The year was 1990 or 1991 and I was about 9 or 10 years old when I first discovered L.M. Montgomery's amazing Anne of Green Gables.  I was a voracious and advanced reader but it was a struggle to find books to read that were challenging and/or interesting enough to me while still having content appropriate for a child.  I had devoured The Lord of the Rings and Terry Brooks' Shannara series when I was introduced to Anne.
I don't recall exactly what happened first.  This time was booming for Anne with the Sullivan mini-series still exploding in popularity and the new Road to Avonlea lighting up screens across Canada. Either I discovered the novel first or was first taken to the performance of the Anne of Green Gables musical at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto. Either way, I quickly became obsessed.  I explored Montgomery's first six novels and dedicated myself to never missing an episode of Road to Avonlea. I even joined the official Road to Avonlea fan club!  I was totally caught up in the incredible romance of the stories.  As an adolescent myself I identified with Anne's outsider-ness.  I was a quiet bookworm who had few friends but I could always retreat into Montgomery's world for a break from reality.
A couple of years later I was able to visit the outdoor sets of Avonlea village in Uxbridge, ON.  It was a transformative experience that heavily influenced me to want to work in film and television.

Though interest in Anne has waned somewhat since the 1990s in the popular consciousness I have never stopped loving her or the other characters created by Montgomery.  I deeply love the Sullivan productions as they capture the spirit of the novels so well and are also beautifully shot!
This August, for the first time, I will have the opportunity to visit PEI and explore the place that so influenced Montgomery's work.  This has been a dream of mine since childhood and I thought it might be an interesting idea to create this blog to reminisce and also make plans leading up to the trip.  If you're interested, I hope you'll join me on this digital journey.