Bookish Destination: Prince Edward Island, Canada
Summer is almost here. This is the perfect time to plan a bookish vacation to immerse yourself in the world of one of your favorite characters. If you are an Anne of Green Gables fan or have a child in your life who has loved the book, a trip to Prince Edward Island would be a magical experience.
Anne of Green Gables is the first book in the beloved series by L.M. Montgomery. As the book opens we meet eleven-year-old Anne Shirley, an orphan who has come to live with Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert at Green Gables farm on Prince Edward Island. What Anne thinks is a dream come true has actually been a mix-up–the orphanage was supposed to send a boy. We cross our fingers that Anne (and we as the reader) will get to stay in the wonderful world of small-town Avonlea, with its endearing characters and stunningly beautiful scenery.
To say Anne of Green Gables stole my heart as a child is an understatement–I’ve read the books more times than I can count and Anne is even my daughter’s namesake. I know there are many more kindred spirits out there who would love nothing more than to step into the world of this story. Since L.M. Montgomery drew on her own experiences living in PEI, traveling there is the next best thing.
Here are five stops to make on your bookish trip to Prince Edward Island:
1. Green Gables Heritage Place
This is the quintessential stop for Anne fans. Green Gables Heritage Place is in Cavendish (the real Avonlea) and this site is where L.M. Montgomery is believed to have drawn inspiration for Green Gables. The farmhouse belonged to cousins of Montgomery’s grandfather and is now part of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s National Historic Site.
You can take a tour of the house (furnished with items from the book like a dress with “puffed sleeves”), walk through the “Haunted Wood”, and stroll down “Lovers Lane”. This was the highlight of my visit to PEI when I made my Anne Shirley pilgrimage in 2014. You can’t help but feel Anne’s presence as you take in this site and feel the story come to life.
Read more at: https://www.tourismpei.com/green-gables-house
2. The Anne of Green Gables Museum at the Campbell Homestead
L.M. Montgomery used to visit her Uncle John and Aunt Annie Campbell on this farm in Kensington and described it as the “wonder castle of my childhood”. She even chose to be married in front of the fireplace here. During your visit you can see the “Lake of Shining Waters”, take a carriage ride with “Matthew” as your driver, and view some of Montgomery’s belongings. Like the Green Gables Heritage Place, you definitely feel as though you are stepping into the setting of Montgomery’s books at this site. For devoted Anne fans looking for a wedding venue, you can even follow in Montgomery’s footsteps by holding your ceremony in the parlour.
Visit http://www.annemuseum.com/index.php to learn more.
3. Lucy Maud Montgomery Birthplace
Located in New London, this is the home where L.M. Montgomery was born in 1874. Highlights at this site include Montgomery’s personal scrapbooks and a replica of her wedding dress. A great stop to pay homage to an incredible author.
Read more at http://www.lmmontgomerybirthplace.ca
4. Dalvay By the Sea
If you’re a fan of the 1980s Anne of Green Gables movie adaptations, you must add Dalvay-by-the-Sea to your list. Known as the White Sands hotel in the movies, this is where Anne gives the “Highwayman” reading. Kate Middleton (a fellow Anne enthusiast) and Prince William even visited Dalvay-by-the-Sea on their Canadian tour in 2011. I recommend stopping by for high tea while you channel your inner Megan Follows.
For more visit: https://www.dalvaybythesea.com
5. Anne of Green Gables the Musical at the Homburg Theatre
Anne of Green Gables the Musical, showing in Charlottetown at the Homburg Theater is now in its 54th season. I have not gotten to see this one myself, but after looking at the trailer and listening to some of the soundtrack (both below) it is on my list for a future pilgrimage!
If you’re trying to convince your family or friends to make this Anne piligrimage with you, Prince Edward Island also has fantastic fresh seafood, beautiful scenery for long bike rides or camping, and pristine beaches.
Preparing for your Trip
Read (or re-read for the hundredth time) Anne of Green Gables and the rest of the series.
You can also read the wonderful Emily books, which feature another of Montgomery’s heroines.
I recently listened to the entire Anne series again using Librovox’s free audiobooks. I enjoyed revisiting Anne of the Island and Anne’s House of Dreams again in particular.
You could also request an audiobook from your library or listen to Rachel McAdams read Anne of Green Gables on Audible.
If the little ones in your life are too young to listen to an entire novel, share one of these books with them. I love Anne of Green Gables: A Places Primer, a board book that highlights locations like “The Lake of Shining Waters” with gorgeous illustrations. For a more traditional retelling, I really enjoy Usborne’s picture book version of Anne of Green Gables.
Watch an Anne of Green Gables adaptation. In my opinion, nothing has topped the classic 1984 CBC movie version. I know this one by heart. Make it a viewing marathon and continue with the sequel!