The Scottish Mail on Sunday

Fol­low Anne all the way to Green Gables

- By Sarah Turner Prince Edward Island · Lucy Maud Montgomery · Japan · Netflix · Breaking Bad · Ontario · Charlottetown · Anne Shirley · Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex · Avonlea · Moira Walley-Beckett · Nova Scotia · Campbell Soup · South Stormont, Ontario · Culinary Institute

YOU’RE nearly there when you pass the Anne Shirley Mo­tel and Rachel’s restau­rant. Cavendish on Prince Ed­ward Is­land is for ever Avon­lea, the Cana­dian farm­stead that Lucy Maud Mont­gomery wrote about in her fa­mous novel Anne Of Green Gables.

In the story, pub­lished in 1908, a red-headed or­phan ar­rives at Green Gables to live with Matthew Cuth­bert and his el­derly sis­ter Marilla.

Few nov­els are as rooted in the land­scape. More than 120,000 peo­ple a year come to visit the sim­ple farm­house, many from the English-speak­ing world but also from Ja­pan, which has a flour­ish­ing Anne in­dus­try.

This year, there’s been an ex­tra spike in vis­i­tor num­bers af­ter TV stream­ing ser­vice Net­flix brought out a new adap­ta­tion, mod­ishly called Anne With An E, star­ring Amy­beth McNulty in the ti­tle role.

It has been writ­ten for the small screen by Moira Wal­ley-Beck­ett, who pre­vi­ously worked on crime drama Break­ing Bad. It’s pos­si­bly an odd choice. Even in L.M. Mont­gomery’s time, Prince Ed­ward Is­land was con­sid­ered old-fash­ioned, re­sist­ing the start of the 20th Cen­tury with one-room schools, home-made clothes and peo­ple who called you ‘dear’.

There’s a strong Scot­tish in­flu­ence here, for Nova Sco­tia is full of Camp­bells, MacPhails and MacNeills who em­i­grated and found new homes in this part of the world.

Most of the new adap­ta­tion was filmed in On­tario for fi­nan­cial rea­sons, but there were a few ex­cep­tions for Prince Ed­ward Is­land’s land­scape is unique, es­pe­cially its rus­set­coloured cliffs and beaches.

One key lo­ca­tion is Alexan­dra Point Range, where Matthew un­der­takes to bring Anne back af­ter an al­ter­ca­tion (a slight di­ver­sion from the novel). Another is Orby Head, on the sand­stone cliffs over­look­ing the ocean. I have the lo­ca­tion to my­self while waves crash below.

Mont­gomery used Green Gables, which was owned by her cousins, as the tem­plate for her nov­els. It’s as gabled as you’d want, a white shin­gled house with green shut­ters, perched on a small hill.

In­side, there are au­then­tic wall­pa­per pat­terns to hurt our neu­tral-honed eyes, a gleam­ing stove, and a neat par­lour with pho­to­graphs. Up­stairs you will find a se­ries of bed­rooms. One, with a bro­ken slate and sprigged wall­pa­per and clothes left in a heap, has been des­ig­nated as Anne’s. In­side one of the barns, you can see Mont­gomery’s type­writer, with most the let­ters worn away, es­pe­cially the Es.

WALK along a path and there’s a golf club called (no sur­prises) Green Gables, but cross the road and take another path and you reach what was Mont­gomery’s own home. The paths are cov­ered in buds, about to break into blos­som. It feels heav­enly.

Mont­gomery knew what it was like to be an or­phan – her mother died when she was a baby and her fa­ther moved to the main­land. She was brought up on Prince Ed­ward Is­land by her grand­par­ents at a farm­house in Cavendish.

She lived here un­til she was in her 30s, walk­ing through the woods – Haunted Wood! Lover’s Lane! – to go to school, meet friends or to work in the lo­cal post of­fice. It’s now a ruin but the sense of peace is still in­tact.

Anne Of Green Gables Mu­seum is still pri­vately owned by mem­bers of Mont­gomery’s fam­ily, and it shows.

A 20-minute drive from Green Gables, there’s an au­then­tic touch of late-spring damp in the mu­seum that re­minds you that life wasn’t al­ways sun-dap­pled.

Mont­gomery was mar­ried from here and, again, there’s that all-en­com­pass­ing feel­ing of be­long­ing. The mu­seum, at Park Cor­ner, re­ferred to by Mont­gomery as In­gle­side, reg­u­larly hosts wed­dings for Anne fans.

Prince Ed­ward Is­land may be Canada’s small­est prov­ince, but it’s still huge, with wide beaches, and vast fields with the is­land’s dis­tinc­tive red, iron-rich soil. Ul­ti­mately, there’s noth­ing twee about it.

You’ll find lo­cals in sturdy footwear and wa­ter­proof gar­ments, and they tend to have the prac­ti­cal good hu­mour that comes with liv­ing on an is­land where quite a lot of el­e­ments are thrown at you. This is potato coun­try – it’s likely your su­per­mar­ket oven chips have come from Prince Ed­ward Is­land.

Char­lot­te­town in Mont­gomery’s world comes over as quaint, with wide streets and slow walks. Where once sail­ing boats picked up cargo, cruise com­pa­nies now dis­gorge pas­sen­gers, many of whom head up to Green Gables. It also has two the­atres, both of which have sum­mer pro­duc­tions of Anne Of Green Gables.

It’s got posh restau­rants too, in­clud­ing Terre Rouge and Sims. The Culi­nary In­sti­tute of Canada has its school here, in­clud­ing a stu­dent restau­rant called Lucy Maud’s, named af­ter the au­thor.

Sit in a cafe in Char­lot­te­town to­day and mod­ern-day ver­sions of char­ac­ters such as Rachel Lynde and Aunt Josephine are out in force, catch­ing up with gos­sip. Ex­cept, as far as I can over­hear, they’re hun­ker­ing down for a good gos­sip af­ter a fit­ness class be­fore head­ing over to the art gallery.

‘Here you are, dear,’ says the barista hand­ing me my trendy flat white. The lan­guage she uses may be from Anne’s era, but this woman is in her 20s and cov­ered in tat­toos.

 ??  ?? WHERE IT ALL BE­GAN: Green Gables and, right, Amy­beth McNulty as Anne in the new Net­flix se­ries
WHERE IT ALL BE­GAN: Green Gables and, right, Amy­beth McNulty as Anne in the new Net­flix se­ries

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