When I was a child one of my most vivid memories was sitting on the couch beside my mom while she read “Annie Green Gables” – as I called it back then. I marveled at the magical world created from those simple black and white words printed on the page.
I still have that book and treasure it to this day. Apart from the unforgettably feisty character of Anne, one of author Lucy Maud Montgomery’s lasting legacies is the quaint historic home she wrote about near Cavendish on one of Canada’s most beloved islands, Prince Edward Island.
Green Gables was named for the deep forest green paint on the trim and eaves set against the white wood-frame house. Green Gables was a farmstead owned by cousins of Lucy Laud Montgomery, the McNeil family. It was built and expanded sometime between 1831-1870. The exact year of construction is lost to historical records.
Lucy Maud never actually lived in or owned the Green Gables house, rather, she visited the farm as a young girl and based the Green Gables in her novel on the house and the real life surrounding areas such as The Haunted Woods and Lover’s Lane.
After Anne of Green Gables was published in 1908, the Green Gables farm became synonymous with the novel and visitors flocked to see “Anne’s House”.
Upon Montgomery’s death [in 1942], her wake was conducted from the living room of the Green Gables farmhouse for several days prior to her funeral at the local Presbyterian church and burial in the nearby Cavendish Community Cemetery.
When I was about eight years old, my family took an epic summer road trip from northern Ontario through the eastern Canadian provinces and then ferry-boated across to Prince Edward Island. We toured the real life Green Gables and the surrounding grounds. It may well have been the start of my deep, unending love for old houses.
Unfortunately, my parent’s 1980’s pre-digital camera mal-functioned (the film didn’t feed through) so we never got a single picture of that glorious summer vacation. Nor did we get any photos of Annie Green Gables house, the highlight of the trip – in my eyes.
Fortunately, due to the world-wide fame of Anne of Green Gables, there is a wealth of images of the lovely green and white farm house on the Internet.
Green Gables became preserved as part of a National Park in the 1930’s and was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1985.
The house suffered an electrical fire on May 23, 1997, but fortunately, it only caused damage to one section of the upper level. The fire was the impetus that led to more extensive restoration of the affected rooms and some of the grounds as well.
Parks Canada has published a floor-plan for those who appreicate a 2-D visual map:
Now restored and completely furnished with period antiques, the Green Gables House is open during the summer months for tours.
Here are some photos of the interior…
I believe that is “Anne’s room” (above).
And the “sewing room” (below)…
And the front parlour…
Even though we were not able to take any pictures of our tour of the Green Gables house, much of the house is as I remember it when I visited as a child.
While Lucy Maud Montgomery never actually lived in the Green Gables house, she did grow up only a short distance down the road (a quarter mile east) in a farmhouse which no longer stands.
All that is left of the house is the stone cellar and the grounds which have been preserved as they were when Lucy Maud lived there as a child:
Maud came here as a tiny child to live with her maternal grandparents Alexander and Lucy Macneill, when her mother Clara Macneill Montgomery died of tuberculosis. This was her home from 1876 to 1911.
– from: http://www.peisland.com/lmm/
Relatives of Lucy Maud now own the property where she actually wrote Anne of Green Gables and many of her other novels and short stories. They maintain the grounds and run it as a historical site that is open to the public, complete with historical placards that indicate the trees that Lucy Maud wrote under and even some of her personal effects in the on-site museum.
The house where Lucy Maud Montgomery was born is still standing and looking impeccable in New London (previously called Clifton), Prince Edward Island.
This little house is located 7 miles southwest of Cavendish (where Green gables is located) and is also open for public tours.
If you tour this home you will be able to view many of Lucy Maud’s actual Island scrap books, her journals and even her wedding dress.
I notice that the house in New London is white with green trim-work… not sure if that’s original to the house, or a nod to the more famous nearby Green Gables house.
In any case, it is just as quaint and pastoral as Green Gables. (Are you in love with Prince Edward Island yet?)
But lest we start to believe that Lucy Maud Montgomery’s life was confined to the small eastern Canadian province, there is one more house that you should know about in Leaskdale, Ontario – the Leaskdale Manse.
In 1911, L.M. Montgomery moved to Leaskdale, a prosperous farming community, soon after marrying Ewan Macdonald. He was a Prince Edward Islander who had become the community’s Presbyterian minister one year earlier. Montgomery lived at the Manse for 15 years and raised 2 sons, Chester and Stuart.
– from: http://lucymaudmontgomery.ca/
This handsome 1886 blond-brick Gothic Revival house in southern Ontario is where Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote 11 of the 22 novels she published.
It’s little wonder that beautiful vintage homes figured so prominently in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s fiction – she was so blessed to have lived in the most gorgeous houses in her lifetime!
While Leaskdale, Ontario treasures its L.M. Montgomery connections, the entire Cavendish area of Prince Edward Island is a veritable Anne/Maud time capsule, mercifully and lovingly preserved by the locals and family descendants of Lucy Maud Montgomery. There are many sites on the island associated with Lucy Maud, and she based many of her books and stories on the homes of family members she knew growing up.
Many of these finely preserved homes and farms are now either Anne or Lucy Maud Montgomery museums/tributes which are all open for public tours.
If you ever find yourself on Prince Edwards Island, Green Gables should be at the top of your list. There’s just something magical about it.