Thursday, September 20, 2018

We Went to Canada and Saw Green Gables!

Here's what we've done on our trip so far:

Here's our first stop at Steamtown National Historic Site.

I'd originally been inspired to plan this trip to Canada with the kids because I wanted them to see and hear native French speakers, but it wasn't in our budget to go to France this year.

But when it came to actually planning this trip, I moved heaven and earth to make sure that we'd spend time on Prince Edward Island. It's far away, took a huge effort to get there, and I would have worked a lot harder than I even did for the chance to see Green Gables.

Will, too, is a huge Anne of Green Gables fangirl, and has read all the books, too, even the ones that aren't really about Anne.

Syd isn't a fan of Anne--she thinks she's annoying, gasp!--but once upon a time, several months ago, I was re-reading Anne of Green Gables and when Matthew dies, I unexpectedly found myself weeping, unable to calm myself. Oh, my gosh, I'm crying right now just to think of it. I hadn't re-read Anne of Green Gables since Pappa died. I don't know if I'll ever be able to bring myself to read it again, frankly.

Anyway, the kids attended to me, as I tried to comfort them and tell them I was just sad, and eventually I got them to head back off on their own business. Except that a little while later, Syd came to me with a story for me to read. She'd written me a piece of Anne of Green Gables fanfiction in which Matthew does not die, but instead heads off to travel the world, sending back much love to Anne and Marilla.

It's the best gift I've ever received.

So on the most beautiful morning of our entire trip, we drove two miles from our motel and paid our admission to Green Gables National Heritage Place so that we could see where Anne lives.

Here's Green Gables!

Green Gables is real, even if Anne, herself, isn't. The real house inspired Lucy Maud Montgomery so much that she set her book there, and now it's restored to look the way that it would have looked then (although I bet with better landscaping).

The site also has some of Montgomery's belongings, such as her typewriter:

Will wandered off somewhere or other, which means that she didn't have to sit in the buggy while I took her picture. Syd looks like she wishes she had wandered off somewhere, too!

Does this house look magical? I need to tell you that it was. It was absolutely magical. It's exactly right in every detail.

Inside, there are period furnishings, although if you look closely, you'll also see details taken expressly from the books:

This is one of the bedrooms, but look--there's Matthew's vest! It's MATTHEW'S room!

See the raspberry cordial on the shelf?

Guess who's room this is, with that dress with puffed sleeves hanging in the closet?

There was an older couple behind us, who I'd seen come in on a tour bus earlier. When we paused in front of this room, the guy was like, "Okay, this room belongs to..." and, referencing his brochure, "uhhh... Marcilla?"

Without even thinking, I turned right around and informed him, in an outraged tone, "It's MARILLA!"

And then I stopped, and said, "Ahem. Sorry."

They forgave me, but then the guy was all, "So, that's her, what? Aunt?"

I did not trust myself to reply.

Back outside, we took a break in the shade and enjoyed our VERY EXPENSIVE drinks. Since we were going to a place, not a national park, I didn't ask the kids to bring their water bottles; I'd assumed we'd just find a drinking fountain whenever we were thirsty. Except... there weren't any drinking fountains! Talk about culture shock! Instead, I bought my dehydrated children VERY EXPENSIVE bottled drinks, and we all commented periodically that they were the BEST drinks, SO delicious, VERY MUCH worth the lots of money that I'd paid for them.

The children also expressed emotions ranging from mild distaste to horror when I informed them that it was time to go to the folk singing, but I know for a fact that they enjoyed themselves:

There was a range of songs, many of which the children didn't know--

--but we were delighted to see (well, *I* was definitely delighted; the children experienced emotions ranging from mild enthusiasm to resignation) that one of the songs on the agenda was an Irish folk song that I'd taught them last year:

We could all sing along to that one!

I know that it looks like I'm filming that random woman, but really I have my eye on the guest behind her: 

It's ANNE!

Afterwards, we spent hours wandering the grounds and various walking paths:

This kid always finds a place to grub:

It's very bad to carve into trees. But also--look!

And then we were drawn back to Green Gables, Syd to finish up her Xplorer book--

--and Will and I to do some more fangirling:

Here an example of a hard-earned Xplorer badge!

I have told you before that gift shops never have what I want to buy. I'd had it in my head that I would splurge on a complete set of Anne books here, the nicest that they stocked. But you know what? They did not carry the full set of Anne books! I'd be very interested to know why.

Oh, well. I'd spent most of our souvenir money on those drinks, anyway!

I can't quite work out whether I think it's weird or not to visit authors' graves, but this cemetery was so close to our motel that we walked there that evening:

Lucy Maud Montgomery struggled with depression for much of her adult life. Rilla of Ingleside is her darkest book, and much of what happens in that book--World War I, the death of a beloved son--are written from her own experiences. When Montgomery's death was discovered, there was also found a note that may have been a suicide note--even if it was, as others contend, simply an excerpt from her journal, it's nevertheless deeply upsetting, and revealed much more about her inner struggles than one can see on the imagined face of a brave, spunky, determined optimist of a red-haired orphan girl.

So whether it's weird or not, we pilgrimaged to Lucy Maud Montgomery's grave by foot, there to pay our respects to her life and legacy:

We were not, it seems, the only ones to do so:

Wandering further, we also found the graves of the grandparents who raised Montgomery after her mother died and her father abandoned her:

Huh. I've just realized: Montgomery was raised by her grandparents, just like me. It makes all the sense in the world that Anne was rescued and raised by an elderly couple. I wonder if Montgomery, too, struggled to re-read Matthew's death without weeping? I do know that she later wrote in a memoir that she regretted writing his death, and wished she hadn't done it.

Back to the motel, then, for more swimming and Sharknado and real live raspberry cordial:

Seriously, whoever got the trademark to sell that in Cavendish is a genius.


Unknown said...

Such a beautiful post, Julie. You should give a thought to becoming an author of a book on being a creative Home School Mom in the 21st century. Especially found your post on Sid’s gift to you exceptionally heart warming.

julie said...

You're so sweet, Aunt Leanne! I will write my book, and you will write a book on your adventures researching the genealogy of our extended families, and then we'll compare!