Found My Kindred Friend in PEI Canada!

Found My Kindred Friend in PEI Canada!

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Location: Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island Canada
Date: August 2008

At the farmhouse of Anne Shirley in Prince Edward Island, Canada
August 2008

For my thirty-third birthday Trent surprised me with a trip to Prince Edward Island to visit the real home of the fictitious character, Anne, of Green Gables.  When I say surprised that is exactly what I mean.  He actually told me to pack for warm days, cooler nights and that was it!  I had no idea where we were going until we had to transfer flights in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Or maybe we were in Detroit, Michigan, either way it wasn’t until we boarded the little puddle jumper that would finish the last few hundred miles into Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada.  For those of you that may not be familiar, and to you I’m a little ashamed, Prince Edward Island is where all the magic of the book series by Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables, takes place.

Seriously… my all time favorite book series

If you were a farm girl like me, you can probably identify with long nights of nothing to do except read. Our house had two TV’s and no cable and so I was either on the phone or reading as a teenager.  My favorite books were these found in this series.  Then when the books were made into a mini-series for Canadian television, and shown on PBS in the states, my heart skipped a beat.  I watched them with my friends, by myself, over and over trying to recreate the romantic relationship the main character, Anne Shirley has with her biggest rival and most handsome boy in town, Gilbert Blythe.

Anne Shirley & Gilbert Blythe in the
made for TV version

I know I am embarrassing myself by letting you into by pathetic teen years by writing about this part of my life, but nonetheless I will continue.  For my sixteenth birthday I woke with a crazy notion that dreams really do come true and a beautiful Jeep Wrangler, red with a plaid (customized) cloth top would be sitting in the driveway. (Yes this is truly the car I had made up in my head) But then I remembered I was the fourth of seven children, my dad was a teacher, and my mom was a homemaker.  There were no funds for my Jeep Wrangler but my mom had bought me something special….two porcelain dolls that looked like the two “kindred spirits” or “bosom friends” Anne Shirley, and Diana Berry, from Anne of Green Gables.

My dolls I received for my 16th birthday,
now hold a spot on a shelf in my twins room
Though these are not the real dolls sold as Anne
& Shirley just ones my mom thought looked
like them  (Love you Mom)
The Anne & Diana featured in the mini-series
There’s a little resemblance 

Funny thing… I still own these dolls to this day.  They represent so much more to me now than just the two main characters from the books, but thats another story.  Either way after reading these wonderful stories of love and loss, adventure and misadventure I was ready to go see where it all took place.

Took this pic as we roamed the beautiful countryside of PEI
August 2008

I should start by telling you a little about the author Lucy Maud Montgomery.  L.M. Montgomery was born in 1874 (exactly 100-years before me!) on Prince Edward Island.  Her mother died and her father left her with her maternal grandparents to be raised in a strict household.  Though she wasn’t quite an orphan like her character, Anne Shirley, she was very adventurous and had a great imagination.  When she sent her book, Anne of Green Gables, off to be published in 1908 it was an immediate success and is now translated in many languages and has a world-wide following.  The best part for me about the “Anne” books is the character is a self-reliant, poor, farm girl with lots of determination.  (Ok I felt like I could relate a little 😉  However, the on again off again love affair with her arch rival, and best friend, Gilbert Blythe is what draws in any teenage girl long before Edward and Bella ever hit the written page.

Since Gilbert Blythe was my heart throb it only made sense that
I’d find someone just as good-looking (or even better)
Trent looking the part in PEI
August 2008

So when I stepped off the plane in Charlottetown, PEI in August of 2008 I was very excited to get started on my book tour of a lifetime.  I couldn’t believe what a romantic husband I had to indulge me in this desire, and plan this trip without me suspecting a thing.  Our four night stay took place at the Stanhope Beach Resort, www.stanhopebeachresort.com, in Stanhope.  Though this was a great hotel and we had our own two bedroom, town-home type unit, it was a little far for touring the sights in Cavendish, where much of the book is based.  So if I was looking to do this trip all over again, and I really want to, I would stay in Cavendish.  One hotel that caught my eye that looked clean and accessible was called Kindred Spirits Country Inn and Cottages, www.kindredspirits.ca 

Trent standing outside the birthplace of the author,
Lucy Maud Montgomery
August 2008

Some of the sites we visited while in PEI was the birthplace of L.M. Montgomery in New London, PEI, (very close to Cavendish).  It is just a small house with lots of old period pieces of clothing and furniture from the late 1800’s. Not all of the items were used by Maud’s family but it does have her tiny wedding dress which was fantastic to see so I could imagine her tiny frame and little feet.  There was a minimal fee charged to enter and it is open most late spring to early fall days from 9-3.  More info can be found at www.tourismpei.ca

Visiting the Anne of Green Gables Village and posing with one of the
Anne-look-alikes.  That’s the actual outfit I wore to the park that day. (Wink;)
August 2008
Trent will kill me when he sees this pic but I couldn’t help myself
and dressed up like Anne with Gil
August 2008

Other cool sights were visiting Avonlea, Anne of Green Gables Village.  It is like a small amusement park that would have been around in the late 1800’s.  If you’re looking for roller coasters you’ve come to the wrong place.  Imagine root beer taste testing, dressing up in the attire of the characters of the Anne books, a small petting zoo, adult actors singing and dancing, an old train station, and shops of candy, Anne memorabilia, and old timey stuff.  Its cute. It does cost about $20 to get in and it makes every adult (especially those who have read the books) feel like a child.  More can be found at http://www.avonlea.ca

I may not look happy (in this pic) but I was thrilled to be there!
August 2008

I especially loved visiting the farmhouse that Montgomery based the character, Anne, in the books.  There is a great little walking tour that you can take yourself and since it is the basis of a fictional book there aren’t any “real” items to see except to imagine Lucy Maud Montgomery visiting her cousins here as a child and creating Anne Shirley, and lending this farm house to her books, as Annes home.  With so many sites that were created in the books like, Lover’s Lane, Haunted Wood or even Berry Pond aka Pond of Shimmering Waters it is fun to see on what she based these places.  This farmhouse is very recognizable from the books and has a great display showing the life of Lucy Maud Montgomery.  Just a short walk from the farmhouse is the site of the authors burial and it is lovely to see she was buried in a countryside that meant so much to her in this life.

The burial site of Lucy Maud Montgomery-MacDonald
In August 2008

Besides the little sites to see representing this great little series of books, there is so much more to see in Prince Edward Island.  If the snow didn’t run six feet deep in the winters I would gladly pack up my children and move to this beautiful island.  The beaches are a beautiful red sand, and the fog in the mornings make for romantic walks on the beach.  The rolling country side of green farming and patches creating a beautiful quilt of greenery makes this an enchanting place to visit.  Trent and I enjoyed our drives along the country side almost as much as our walks along the beach.  Even the sand dunes mentioned in the books are there for the readers imagination.  It was so beautiful.

The red sand beaches off the coast of PEI
August 2008
What a romantic walk with my honey on the Cavendish shoreline
August 2008

I’ve also got to mention the food!  I love seafood and this is a paradise for great fresh catch of the day type meals.  The lobster dinner is so routine it is offered in almost all restaurants and it is the same in each; lobster tail, a potato, salad, a roll and a drink.  Just say lobster dinner to anyone from this area and they know exactly what you’re looking for.  Though I loved the lobster, Trent fell in love with the mussels, and just like the shrimp are served in any which way in Louisiana, that’s how they do the mussel’s in this part of Canada.

Trent and his lobster dinner in Charlottetown PEI
August 2008

Though there are many tours that are offered on different PEI websites I truly think that this is an island you can do yourself without a tour guide or group to follow.  I can guarantee it will be cheaper to do it on your own as well.  There are also lots of plays depicting the Anne books.  The two I recommend are the Anne of Green Gables play that shows in Charlottetown all summer season and the Anne and Gilbert play that shows over in Summerside.  Though I loved the Anne of Green Gable play it was exactly like the book and shows Anne in her youth.  It is playful and fun but it wasn’t what attracted me to the books as a teenager.

At the harbor in Sunnyside just after the Anne and Gilbert play
I am all tears
August 2008

The Anne and Gilbert play was amazing.  Trent got us tickets on the second row and the actors were so close and I could see the spit spray from their lips during a lively song or performance. This, of course, is the part of the Anne books where Anne (with an E) realizes her love for Gilbert and their attraction becomes more than just friendly rivals.  I walked out in tears wanting more from these two long lost friends of mine.  (Do I sound absolutely pathetic yet?)

Posing at Anne’s farmhouse
August 2008

So in short if this is an experience that sounds attractive to you then fly into Charlottetown PEI, rent a car (very easy, just like renting in the US), stay up in Cavendish, see the sights both from the books and the real sights from the authors life, see the two plays, take a nice long morning walk on a beach, drive through the countryside and if you have time hike through Greenwich National PEI park.  Make sure you eat in a recommended restaurant in Charlottetown, visit the shops in Charlottetown and check the summer calendar at www.tourismpei.ca to coordinate your trip to the time of summer you want to visit. If you are red-headed (that means you Cassie) then take a costume from the time period, put your hair in braids, and take some pictures with international tourists, and make a few tips to pay for your trip!

Just the way we like to end every great story
Anne & Gil forever 🙂

Goodluck!  Safe and Happy travels!!

One Comment

  • Cassie says:

    Okay, okay, you got me with this one. I’m not sure why I wasn’t invited on this trip but I can definitely go for a vacation where my hair will pay the bill. So jealous.