“I've always heard that Prince Edward Island was the prettiest place in the world.” If you’re planning a trip to Prince Edward Island, chances are that you’ve heard about Anne of Green Gables. In fact, there’s a pretty good chance that Anne is the very reason you know about PEI in the first place! This classic piece of children’s literature has inspired people to visit Canada’s tiniest province since the early 1900s when Lucy Maud Montgomery published the first book in the series.
While the chronicles of Anne are fictional, its setting and even some of its stories are based on Montgomery’s real experiences throughout Prince Edward Island. Visitors are welcome to explore the historical properties that provided Montgomery with so much inspiration. It’s the perfect way to explore the island and -- if you’re anything like me, indulge your inner child with the perfect imaginative adventure!
1. Green Gables National Historic Site
“You’re only Anne of Green Gables,” she said earnestly, “and I see you, just as you are looking now, whenever I try to imagine I’m the Lady Cordelia. But it’s a million times nicer to be Anne of Green Gables than Anne of nowhere in particular, isn’t it?”
No visit to Prince Edward Island is complete without a pilgrimage to Green Gables Heritage Place. Green Gables’ delightful farmhouse, its beautiful gardens, and the inviting woodland paths were fodder for Lucy Maud Montgomery’s future fictional Anne, a character so beloved that Mark Twain described her as the “the dearest and most loveable child in fiction since the immortal Alice.” Montgomery’s family owned the farm and she spent some of her happiest moments here.
Visitors to Green Gables can tour through the home, carefully staged to reflect key details from the book (keep your eyes peeled for Anne’s broken slate). There’s an onsite gift shop, two nature walks (“Lover’s Lane” and the “Haunted Woods”), and plenty of gardens to explore. Work is underway on a new visitor’s interpretive center. The property is also a little-known geocaching site -- you can see more details here.
For the true Anne fan, Green Gables is but the starting point for an incredible Prince Edward Island road trip. During her lifetime, Lucy Maud traveled extensively throughout the island, incorporating village life and landmarks into Anne’s most memorable adventures -- and a few of her own as well!
Note that Green Gables Heritage Place is one of two historic properties that comprise the L.M. Montgomery’s Cavendish National Historic Site. The other is the site of Montgomery’s Cavendish home.
2. The Site Of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Cavendish Home
The site of Lucy Maud Montgomery's Cavendish Home was once the farm and homestead of Montgomery’s maternal grandparents. This is where she lived for the first 37 years of her life and did much of her writing. Alas, none of the original buildings of the property remain. However, the homestead fields are still there, as are the lanes where Montgomery strolled, the gardens she tended, and the trees she wrote under.
While the original buildings no longer exist, historic artifacts are displayed in the onsite bookstore and museum. They include the original desk and scales from the Cavendish Post Office, where Mongomery was once assistant postmistress.
3. The Cavendish Post Office
At the end of the fortnight Anne took to "haunting" the post office also, in the distracted company of Jane, Ruby, and Josie, opening the Charlottetown dailies with shaking hands and cold, sinkaway feelings as bad as any experienced during the Entrance week.
Cavendish village -- or Avonlea, as it’s better known to Anne of Green Gables fans -- is home to a modest post office that most tour buses breeze by. If only they knew! Lucy Maud was assistant postmistress at this very location for several years, and the resulting intimate knowledge of the community is reflected in her writing. The post office also functions as a museum and frequently has exhibits celebrating Montgomery’s life. Sadly, a fire damaged this building in 2018, and restoration work remains ongoing.
4. Kensington Railway Station
Matthew encountered the stationmaster locking up the ticket office preparatory to going home for supper, and asked him if the 5:30 train would soon be along.
"The 5:30 train has been in and gone half an hour ago," answered that brisk official. "But there was a passenger dropped off for you -- a little girl.”
Listed on the National Historic Site registrar, the Kensington Railway Station is a rare example of a preserved Prince Edward Island rail station. But Anne of Green Gables fans will need no visitor’s guide to find their way around -- the long platform, the ladies waiting room, and the ticket office are a dead ringer for the fictional Bright River station where Anne first met Matthew Cuthbert. The rail tracks have long been converted to cycling paths and are now one of the prettiest and easiest ways to explore the island.
5. The Bideford Parsonage Museum
Anne washed the dishes deftly enough, as Marilla who kept a sharp eye on the process, discerned. Later on she made her bed less successfully, for she had never learned the art of wrestling with a feather tick.
The Bideford Parsonage Museum is a listed heritage property notable for its connection to Lucy Maud Montgomery, who boarded here while teaching school nearby. Her room is virtually unchanged in the 100+ years since Montgomery lived here. Devoted readers will be interested in inspecting the feather tick bed, which undoubtedly inspired the setting for young Anne’s bedroom. The Museum hosts an annual summer strawberry social each year in mid-July. For just $5, you get homemade strawberry shortcake with ice cream and local berries, raspberry cordial, tea, musical entertainment, and conversations with costumed guides. It’s an outrageously good deal, and it’s well worth stalking their website to check on dates
6. The L.M. Montgomery Lower Bedeque School
The Avonlea school was a whitewashed building, low in the eaves and wide in the windows, furnished inside with comfortable substantial old-fashioned desks that opened and shut, and were carved all over their lids with the initials and hieroglyphics of three generations of school children. The schoolhouse was set back from the road and behind it was a dusky fir wood and a brook where all the children put their bottles of milk in the morning to keep cool and sweet until dinner hour.
The L.M. Montgomery Lower Bedeque School was run by schoolmistress Lucy Maud Montgomery from 1896 to 1897. She was teaching school long before she assigned the same profession to Anne. Today it is a fine example of a rural Canadian schoolhouse. Before Lucy Maud arrived, however, the school had a bit of a mysterious reputation. An 1874 school board dispute led to the building being torn down in the middle of the night. Rumor has it if you poke around enough local barns; you might just find some of the missing pieces! Equally astonishing is the very true fact that this tiny, humble building remained a functioning school until 1961.
7. The Anne Of Green Gables Museum
"That's Barry's pond," said Matthew. "Oh, I don't like that name, either. I shall call it -- let me see -- the Lake of Shining Waters. Yes, that is the right name for it. I know because of the thrill. When I hit on a name that suits exactly it gives me a thrill. Do things ever give you a thrill?"
The Anne of Green Gables Museum (aka the Campbell Farm) has been Montgomery’s extended family for over 230 years and is the setting for the Lake of Shining Waters -- or Barry’s Pond, for the more prosaic among us. Though it’s named after Anne, this is really a museum of Montgomery’s life. Highlights of their collection include a “crazy quilt” she made as a teenager, doodles she made of cats, and the Blue Chest from her Story Girl book. The museum is also the headquarters of the “Mathew’s Carriage Ride” program.
8. The Montgomery Inn At Ingleside
Ingleside is nice ... and I do love it now. I once thought I would never love it.
If you’ve journeyed all the way to Prince Edward Island, chances are you’ve also followed Anne’s journey from life on Green Gables to raising her own family on the idyllic Ingleside property. The inspiration for Ingleside came from a house once owned by Montgomery’s own grandfather… and the property is still owned by the family today. For several years, it operated as the L.M. Montgomery Heritage Museum, and visitors were able to see the green and white spotted china dogs “Magog” and ‘“Gog” as well as Anne’s famous rosebud tea set. However, following a major renovation, it was reinvented as the Montgomery Inn at Ingleside. Rates range from $99 to $169 depending on the size of the room and the season.
Pro Tip: Anne of Green Gables The Musical
Admittedly, Anne of Green Gables The Musical does not date back to Lucy Maud Montgomery’s lifetime, but this delightful musical theater production in Charlottetown is a must-see for any true-blue Anne fan. Tickets start at just $32, and attending a performance is the perfect way to conclude a visit to PEI.