Lucy Maud Montgomery: before and after trips

Prince Edward Island farm with rainbow

Prince Edward Island farm with rainbow. Image courtesy of chensiyuan, Wikimedia Commons.

When I talk to someone about visiting Canada, I like to say that I’ve been to the beginning, the middle and the end. I speak in geographic terms: I’ve been to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, a brief taste of Quebec City and the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, Alberta (Banff and Calgary) and British Columbia (Vancouver and Burnaby).

Years ago, I decided to do a solo trip around Prince Edward Island (PEI), largely due to the influence of Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery, who wrote some great books and short stories. I flew to Halifax, rented a car, drove cross-country and took the ferry over to PEI. I was determined to cover as much of the island as I could, so I headed north and east as far as East Point, then gradually worked my way west to Cavendish. Most of my driving involved going through areas like the photo below.

Highway on Prince Edward Island

Typical highway scene on Prince Edward Island.

In Cavendish, there is the MacNeill house, which was Lucy Maud’s inspiration for the Anne of Green Gables house. Each character has a room with furniture and possessions the character might have owned. Anne’s room, naturally, has the broken slate that she cracks over Gilbert Blythe’s head when he dares to call her “Carrots” (moral: redheads are quite capable of sticking up for themselves, thank you very much).

Anne of Green Gables House

The MacNeill house, formerly owned by Lucy Maud’s cousins. Now it’s a popular place for tourists to visit.

In New London, you’ll find the house that was Lucy Maud Montgomery’s birthplace. It contains various memorabilia, including a copy of her wedding dress. She appears to have had one of the world’s smallest waists; Calista Flockhart and Kate Moss would be wailing and gnashing their teeth in envy. 

Lucy Maud Montgomery birthplace

Lucy Maud Montgomery’s birthplace.

Although much of the island has associations with Anne of Green Gables, there is so much more to it. There are fantastic beaches with beautiful dark red sand, attractive B&Bs, lighthouses sprinkled at various points around the island and interesting towns. (If you’re a photographer or a cyclist, you’ll be in paradise.) And I also had the fun of visiting the Woodleigh Replicas at Burlington. The Woodleigh Replicas are outdoor scale models of different buildings such as the Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral and The Old Curiosity Shop from Charles Dickens. (I could get my British castle fix without jet lag! Yeah!)

Kids at the Woodleigh Replicas.

Canadian toddlers playing at the Woodleigh Replicas. The kids had a great time since they could play around buildings scaled to their height.

On this first trip, I made the interesting discovery that there is quite a bit of French culture on the western part of PEI, due to its Acadian heritage.  But I only made it as far as Miscouche (gesundheit!) and Richmond; there wasn’t time to get all the way to North Cape that day. I had to wind up my trip by working my way back east through Charlottetown and to the ferry at Wood Islands. I had missed most of western PEI.

So that was the first trip. A few years ago, I made my second trip, this time with a relative. It was interesting to see the Island again through her eyes and we definitely hit western PEI this time. I revisited the MacNeill house and to my astonishment, they had built a visitor’s center with gift shop and a mini museum. One of the museum displays held another surprise for me — some fan letters to Lucy Maud Montgomery, one of which came from my father’s birthplace. What are the odds, people, of seeing a letter from my dad’s hometown all the way up there in Canada?

And will I ever go back to PEI? I wouldn’t mind, if the opportunity came up. Road trip, anyone?

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30 Comments

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30 responses to “Lucy Maud Montgomery: before and after trips

  1. Sounds marvelous! Thanks for sharing. And I am always up for a road trip! 🙂

  2. Barbara

    Ahhh, your blog brings back fond memories of our trip to visit friends near St. Peters on the north shore of PEI in 2003. What a change in lifestyle from the frenetic pace of Northern VA. Also recommend that visitors see the Anne of Green Gables play in Charlottetown for a quick refresher on the storyline. It’ll help you understand the Island culture a bit more. Beautiful handcrafts abound, and there’s some interesting cottage industry on the island. Be sure to stop in some of the small gift shops featuring the work of local artisans.

  3. I’ve read many of Montgomery’s books. Her Anne books, in my opinion, are her best stories though.

  4. I’m there, always ready for a roadtrip – thanks for the tour!

  5. Ooo! I’m jealous! I so want to go to PEI! 😀

  6. Ooo, ooo, ooo! Dagnabbit! Now I have to plan a trip to PEI… shoot. Between my love of travel and photography and my childhood devotion to Lucy Maud, it sounds like a must.

    If you haven’t frequented it, I highly recommend a trip to Lexington and Concord…to see Authors Ridge (where Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott, and Henry David Thoreau were all laid to rest together with their families, because the unlikely quartet were friends and contemporaries) and to tour the home where the Alcott family lived. And like your encounter with PEI, there’s far more to those two adjoining towns than one might imagine…(and as a Californian/Coloradan, I’m not advertising my own stomping grounds–it really is a great area of the country to visit!).

  7. It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to go to Prince Edward Island! I fell in love with Lucy Maud Montgomery’s books as a kid and have never really stopped.

    Thank you so much for sharing your pictures and experiences as well as inspiring to make proper plans to visit someday soon!

  8. Sadly, Woodleigh Replicas are gone – at least they were gone three years ago when we were back there. I have fond memories of them. North Cape is worth a visit if you can get up there — if you’re lucky, you’ll see them gathering seaweed with horses right below the cape where the big wind turbines are. If you go to Malpeque, you’ll be in the area where parts of the Emily of New Moon series was filmed.

    • While doing research for the blog post, I had discovered that the Woodleigh Replicas had closed around 2008 due to the owner’s ill health. Such a pity. But I have my pictures and my memories.

      I did make it to North Cape on trip #2, but not to Malpeque. And now I’ve got a reason to revisit!

  9. Just don’t go in the winter. 😀

  10. It looks stunning. I still have dreams of visiting PEI one day.

  11. I love this post! I went to PEI with my grandparents when I was 12 years old and deep into a Green Gables obsession, and I was in Heaven the entire time! (The Woodleigh Replicas are cool too – I’d forgotten all about them until I saw your pictures, and then memories of being there came flooding back.) Now I want to go back to the Island ASAP… trolling for plane tickets in 3, 2, 1…

  12. I loved the Anne books, don’t have the entire series but I have several of them in my book collection. I love old books and the Anne books are among my very favorite. I’ve never been to Canada but would love to go, it would be fun to see PEI.

  13. I lived in New Brunswick and only visited PEI once in that time (although I have been again since leaving NB).

    Did you get to go to any of the lobster supper places, or try the oysters?

    • No to the lobster and yes to the oysters. I remember a great seafood dinner from the first trip. On the second trip, I tried a donair, because I always like to try new dishes when I’m traveling through another country. Pretty good.

      • That was your first donair? I always assumed they were as ubiquitous in the U.S. as here…They can range from fantastic to downright disgusting. There are variations all around the Mediterranean. The Donair is mostly Turkish, but I think Greek also. There is a similar version called Schwarma…have you had that? There are some brothers from the mid-east (somewhere) who started a little business here in Iqaluit. My wife is addicted!

      • The donair I had was more like a small cheese pizza with chopped lettuce and tomato on top. I did some research on it after your comment and a donair can also be like the sandwich we call a “gyro,” using spiced meat roasted on a spit. I usually get a gyro at Greek restaurants around here; they’re wonderful! I haven’t had Schwarma, but again, somewhat similar to gyro, according to Wikipedia. Time to come over and see your blog, I think! 😉

      • You will be most welcome … I haven’t done a post on donairs yet but I’m sure I’ll get to them sometime. 🙂

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