By Jamie Stengle
As the surf laps at your feet and sand dunes stretch for as far as the eye can see under a sky filled with billowing clouds, it becomes clear that your search for the enchanting island the irrepressible Anne Shirley falls in love with is complete.
The beloved heroine of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s 1908 book Anne of Green Gables is instantly taken with her new home of Prince Edward Island after she is adopted by brother and sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. Visitors to the island today will likely follow suit.
The charming island offers everything from miles of undulating green farmland to stretches of stunning coastlines to quaint towns. And yes, there are also plenty of places to find traces of the fictional Anne and her creator.
Montgomery grew up on the island and gave the same home to her fictional heroine Anne. That’s Anne with an ‘e’ as she would point out, a much more desirable spelling that plain A-n-n.
For those in search of Anne, the small town of Cavendish, where Montgomery grew up, is a must. There’s the cemetery where a path leads to the grave of Montgomery, who died at the age of 67 in 1942, a post office where Montgomery worked for a time that’s filled with displays, and even the opportunity to tour “Green Gables.”
The white farmhouse with the obligatory gables painted green was the home of a brother and sister who were cousins of Montgomery’s grandfather. They are believed to have inspired the characters Matthew and Marilla. Not far away is the site where Montgomery grew up with her grandparents. All that’s left of that home, though, is the foundation and a basement.
“Green Gables,” set in a beautiful woods, has two featured walks: a “lover’s lane” that meanders through a canopy of trees and over bubbling streams, and a “haunted woods” walk under tall trees that likely only seem menacing through the name’s suggestion.
Cavendish doubled in the book for Anne’s fictional hometown on Prince Edward Island of Avonlea.
Avonlea Village is a small park attraction in Cavendish, modeled on the fictional town. Admission allows visitors to pop into storefronts where they’ll find everything from a candy store to a photo exhibit about Montgomery.
And only a few miles away, one finds the stunning shoreline of Prince Island National Park.
Devoted Montgomery fans can travel seven miles southwest of Cavendish to New London to tour the home Montgomery was born in 1874, which showcases many of her scrapbooks and her wedding dress.
And about 11 miles northwest from there in Park Corner is the homestead that once belonged to Montgomery’s aunt and uncle, now the Anne of Green Gables Museum at Silverbush, where you’ll also find the “Lake of Shining Waters” from the book. The home offers a glimpse into Montgomery’s life and one can even take a ride in “Matthew’s carriage” on the farm.
Charlottetown, home of the island’s small commercial airport, is worth a stroll through the downtown, offering visitors a lovely afternoon. You can buy souvenirs ranging from everything Anne-related to products made on the island, and there are several nice restaurants, including Flex Mussels, which features more than 20 flavors for mussels ranging from “Thai” to “southern.”
For a restaurant with a view, try Dayboat, 12 minutes from Cavendish, which sits on the Wheatley River. Just outside of Cavendish, The Pearl Cafe, offers sophisticated fare in a charming setting.
Tourist season runs through mid-October, but many attractions and restaurants close seasonally.
Even if you’re not a devotee of the “Green Gables” books, Prince Edward Island, which has deservedly earned the moniker “The Gentle Island,” is a nice place to slow down. Strolling along the beach, exploring scenic woods or taking an afternoon to wander through Charlottetown’s shops, visitors will soon find themselves in tune with the calm rhythms of this island in the Canadian Maritimes. — AP
If You Go…
Prince Edward Island: www.gentleisland.com.
Anne Of Green Gables Museum: www.annemuseum.com.
Avonlea Village: www.avonlea.ca/