I started my writing career as a travel writer, researching and writing seven travel books about the attractions, sites, and history along the backroads of Alberta, British Columbia, the Yukon, and Alaska. While working on them I realized what a beautiful country I live in. Since then I have switched to writing fiction but I still love to travel. 2017 was Canada’s 150th birthday and to celebrate it my husband and I travelled in a motorhome from our home on Vancouver Island on the Pacific Ocean to Newfoundland on the Atlantic Ocean. The round trip took us nine weeks and we were only able to see about half of the sites and attractions along the roads.
I have decided to write about the scenery, attractions, and history of my country. This post is about Lucy Maud Montgomery.
The Confederation Bridge connects Borden-Carlton, Prince Edward Island, with the rest of Canada at Cape Jourimain, New Brunswick. It is the longest bridge in the world that crosses ice-covered water and was completed in 1997 at a cost of $840 million.
We paid our toll and drove the bridge over the 12.9 kilometre wide Northumberland Strait. We headed to Green Gables in Cavendish in the Prince Edward Island National Park. One of the most famous writers in the world was from Prince Edward Island. Lucy Maud Montgomery was born on November 30, 1874 in New London, PEI. Her ancestors came from Scotland in the 1770s and her grandfathers were members of the provincial legislature for years. Her mother died of tuberculosis when Lucy was 2 and Lucy spent a much of her childhood with her maternal grandparents on the Macneill homestead in Cavendish. Her father moved west in 1887 and remarried. Lucy joined him but felt out of place and soon returned to PEI and her grandparents. She also spent time with her extended family on her mother’s side and her paternal grandfather.
However, her grandparents weren’t very affectionate and Lucy felt lonely and isolated. This led her to reading an abundant number of books and using her imagination to write her own stories. She started with poetry and journals when she was nine years old and had her first poem, On Cape Le Force, published in the Charlottetown Patriot in November 1890. She started writing short stories in her mid-teens. She first published them in local newspapers then sold them to magazines throughout Canada and the United States.
Lucy studied to be a teacher and began teaching in a village school in the late 1890s. She was also writing and selling her works so that when her grandfather died in 1898, she was able to leave her teaching position and move in with her grandmother. Between then and 1911 she wrote and sold poems and stories and also worked in the post office on her grandmother’s homestead.
Her first novel, Anne of Green Gables, was published in 1908 and was an instant bestseller. She got her idea from other novels written by women like Little Women and from a story she read about a couple who had arranged to adopt a boy but were sent a girl. The book sold more than 19,000 copies in the first five months and was reprinted ten times in the first year. It is still in print after more than a century. Lucy wrote two sequels, Anne of Green Gables: Anne of Avonlea (1909) and Anne of the Island (1915) plus five more Anne books over her lifetime. She had a total of twenty books, over five hundred short stories, and one book of poetry published before she died in 1942.
In her private life, Lucy had many suitors over the years and became secretly engaged to a distant cousin named Edwin Simpson in 1897. This ended with she began a romance with a farmer named Hermann Leard. Leard died in 1899 from influenza and Lucy threw herself into her writing. Lucy married a minister, Ewen Macdonald, after her grandmother died in 1911 and they moved to Ontario where Ewen had a parish. They had two sons, Chester and Stuart, and a third one who was stillborn. They moved to another village in 1926 and then, after Ewen was admitted to a sanatorium in 1934 and he resigned his parish, they moved to Toronto in 1935. Ewen died in 1943.
The Green Gables House has been restored to match the descriptions in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s books. I toured through the historic site, seeing the exhibits in the Green Gables house and strolling the Haunted Woods and Balsam Hollow trails that were mentioned in her books.
Prince Edward Island also boasts have Canada’s smallest library. It is one room with shelves of books along the walls and a table and chairs in the centre.