Visiting Green Gables House on Prince Edward Island in Atlantic Canada
Anne and Matthew
Green Gables House fires the imagination of Anne lovers the world over and calls them "home."
When we think of Marilla and Matthew, Anne and Gilbert, and the events that touched their lives, one could almost believe they were real people. Lucy Maud Montgomery's characters, with their human failings and triumphs, through the details of their daily lives in the Maritimes during the late 1800s through to the end of WWI, (and as discovered in the Green Gables books), have put a real farm on the north shore of Prince Edward Island, Canada, on the world map.
People the world over fell in love all over again with the series when it was portrayed in the Kevin Sullivan film and broadcast as a television movie in 1985 via the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Viewers had read all the details in the books but now they could see into Anne's world, a time when there was no central heating or indoor plumbing, when good, solid family values were the order of the day. The two-part miniseries earned the distinction of being the highest rated program to ever appear on Canadian television. In 1986, the film appeared on PBS in the U.S.
Megan Follows was the perfect Anne, as was Johnathan Crombie the perfect Gilbert, and who didn't love Marilla (Colleen Dewhurst) or Matthew (Richard Farnsworth)?
And, of course, there was the magic of the island and the house itself. Green Gables captured imaginations and hearts.
In 1986 work began to further restore the home to more accurately portray it, as described in the Anne books. To everyone who ever longed to return to their roots, Green Gables became a symbol of "going home" and the comfort that particular type of nostalgia brings.
Green Gables House, Prince Edward Island
A May Visit
We visited the property in late May when they were just opening for the season, so while nothing was yet blooming, things were starting to green up. And while not truly open yet, a pleasant young lady allowed us inside Green Gables.
Anne's Theme, Hagood Hardy
An Island Well Loved
• The Micmac Indians who settled the island called it Abegweit, meaning, a land cradled upon the waves.
• Jacques Cartier called it "the fairest land 'tis possible to see."
With the passage of time, the island received a number of names:
- Ile St-Jean
- Island of St. John
- Prince Edward Island (in 1799, named for Queen Victoria's father)
Green Gables is surrounded by forest and is situated minutes away from Cavendish Beach off the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.
Lucy Maud was born a short distance away in Clifton, now New London.
After her mother's death, she went to live with her grandparents, who lived in Cavendish.
As many are aware, "Green Gables" had its inspiration in the actual homestead of L.M. Montgomery's relatives. The farm belonged to David and Margaret Macneill, cousins of Montgomery's grandfather, and it was just a stone's throw from the house Maud lived in with her grandparents.
Lucy Maud, living nearby, visited often and stayed at the MacNeill homestead. It was this farm, set away in a remote corner of Canada, that fired the creation of Green Gables. Like Marilla and Matthew, David and Margaret were an elderly couple who ran a farm on the north shore of Prince Edward Island. Like Anne, Lucy Maud was inspired by natural elements of brooks, woodland paths, and forest around the farm, and she explored these with delight.
The actual Green Gables House, as well as the site of the author's Cavendish home have received the 2005 designation as part of Lucy Maud Montgomery's Cavendish National Historic Site.
Green Gables receives numerous visits each year. What is it like to visit this enchanted corner of Canada?
Anne and Diana
A Visit to Green Gables
After a turn-in from the highway, visitors follow a lane to the parking area. From the parking lot, one can enter the grounds. Some of the first buildings to be seen are the outbuildings.
Green Gables Barn--inside the barn, interpretive displays guide visitors through farm life of the time, with an overview of the history of Cavendish. An award-winning film, "A Celebration of Imagination - the Life of L.M. Montgomery" chronicles events in the author's life.
Green Gables Barns & Outbuildings
- Green Gables Farm was first settled in 1831 by David Macneill Senior.
- David and Margaret's niece, Mrytle, married an Ernest Webb and lived in the home. When Lucy Maud visited the island, she stayed with them at Green Gables.
- In 1936, the Webb's sold the property and it became part of Prince Edward Island National Park.
Green Gables Visitor Center & Interpretive Displays
Green Gables Visitor Center--a Visitor Center offers an audio-visual presentation, which details the the history of the site, with an exhibit highlighting the life and writings of L.M. Montgomery.
The outbuildings accurately reflect farm buildings of the period. Visitors can view the barn, a granary, and the woodshed. These buildings are a close match to the farm Montgomery would have known and loved, while growing up nearby.
Marilla: "I'd rather walk calmly along and do without flying and thud."
Restoration Efforts Have Added More of the Anne Factor
Next, visitors see Green Gables House, which has been restored to a typical farmhouse of the late Victorian period. A walk through the house is like a walk through the late 1800s and one can't help feel a sense of appreciation for being able to take a step back in time and experience what it was like to live then. You don't just "see" Green Gables, you "feel" it.
By utilizing photographs taken by L.M. Montgomery, Parks Canada curators were able to choose accessories, curtains, wallpaper, and carpets for Green Gables and perhaps this is why visitors have the sense that they have been transported back to Anne's time.
When walking through the house, you almost expect to see Marilla or Matthew or Anne and there is almost a feeling of sadness that they aren't there to share time with you.
The Parlor--a Room Mathew Wouldn't Have Stepped Foot in
The sitting room at Green Gables where Anne would have entertained Diana and served her what she thought was raspberry cordial.
Since 1936, the Macneill Home (Green Gables Farm) and the surrounding acreage (Prince Edward Island National Park) have been maintained by Parks Canada.
The bedroom as described in the Anne books, even to a dress with puffed sleeves.
If you were out in a great big woods with other trees all around you and little mosses and June Bells growing over your roots and a brook not far away and birds singing in your branches, you could grow, couldn't you?"— L. M. Montgomery
Brooks, trails, woods, sand and surf part of Anne's world
"The island is the bloomiest place ... I've always heard that Prince Edward Island was the prettiest place in the world."
The creek and woods near to Green Gables were explored and loved by Lucy Maud, the sandy beaches and red sandstone cliffs nearby touched her soul and these natural places of beauty played a part in the story and in the movie.
She described them so eloquently and stirred imaginations of readers. It was this coupling of memorable characters with memorable natural places that drew in a vast audience.
Just as Lucy Maude did while growing up, visitors can enjoy the sights and sounds of "Anne's world" today.
Gilbert: "It'll be three years before I finish medical school. Even then there won't be any diamond sunbursts or marble halls."
Green Gables Trails
Nature lovers will enjoy exploring two trails on-site.
- Balsam Hollow Trail--begins as Lover's Lane. Visitors can take a 30-minute stroll through a shady forest to the soft sounds of a babbling brook.
- The Haunted Wood Trail--take a 45-minute walk through a woodland area that inspired the Anne story.
Make sure to read the interpretive signs for insights about L. M. Montgomery.
In the woods I like to be alone for every tree is a true old friend.— L. M. Montgomery
A brook was laughing to itself in the hollow. Brooks are always in good spirits... those gay vagabonds of the valleys.— L. M. Montgomery
Fast Facts About PEI
- Canada's birthplace
- Canada's smallest province (140 miles long by 40 miles across)
- Red roads that come from iron-rich soil
- Good farm land
Learn More About Green Gables, Lover's Lane & the Haunted Wood
Special Places Anne Loved in and Around Green Gables
Orchards & Woods
Mr. Barry's Field
Mr. Bell's Field
Lake of Shining Waters
White Way of Delight
The Haunted Wood
Anne, From Her Bedroom Window, Would Have Looked Out Over This
The home is situated on a hill that slopes down to a creek. The Haunted Wood, as portrayed in the stories, is up on the other side.
View From Field (Orchard Slope) Looking Towards Green Gables
Island Places Used in the Anne Books
Lucy Maude incorporated many actual places on the island and these occur in her books, with different names. What are some of these?
- Anne took a ferry from Nova Scotia across to P.E.I. This would have been at Pictou, NS.
- She then took a train to "Bright River," which was in actuality Hunter River.
- She arrived in Avonlea (Cavendish).
- New London Harbour (Four Winds Harbour)
- Carmody (Stanley Bridge).
Island Places in the Kevin Sullivan Films
- Dalvay-by-the Sea in Grande Tracadie (White Sands Hotel)
- Orby Head (Anne and Diana stood on a cliff)
- Rustico Bay (east of Cavendish)
- Shore Road (where Anne and Marilla drove to see Mrs. Spencer)
If You Can't Get to the Island, Why Not Take a Virtual Tour? Explore Lover's Lane & the Haunted Woods
- Go to the Google map below.
- Find Green Gables.
- Drag the little orange man over until you see blue lines.
- Set him down on any of the trails to go exploring.
- Once you are positioned on the trail, click on the directional arrows (over on the right) to move forward and start exploring.
Aerial View of Green Gables, Orchard Slope (right) and Lover's Lane (bottom)
Did You Know?
Soon after publication of the first book in 1908, people began visiting Prince Edward Island and Cavendish in search of Green Gables.
Getting to Green Gables
Green Gables is located on Route 6 in Cavendish (Avonlea in the Anne books) on Prince Edward Island. Head north from Charlottetown and follow Route 2 west to Hunter River. Turn right onto Route 13 to the intersection of Route 13 and 6 in Cavendish. Turn left from Route 13 onto route 6. Green Gables is located on the left, a short distance from the intersection.
It's a pleasant drive northward with fields and glimpses of water at every turn. Travelers will see plenty of road signs pointing the way. The route is well-marked.
The Land of Anne
Sites of Interest Near Green Gables House
Cavendish Beach is a stone's throw from Green Gables House, allowing visitors to view the landscape that inspired the Anne books. Located on the North Shore of Prince Edward Island, Cavendish beach fronts the Gulf of St. Lawrence and is in Prince Edward Island National Park. It extends 8 km from New London Bay in the west to the red sandstone cliffs in Cavendish East. Expect to see the Lake of Shining Waters, sand dunes, and sand that stretches for miles.
Naturally, the shore was part of my life from my earliest consciousness. I learned to know it and love it in every mood.— L.M. Montgomery
Enchantment Awaits, Steps Away From Green Gables...Click thumbnail to view full-size
Red Cliffs border the Shore Drive, where Marilla and Anne drove in the buggy to see Mrs. Spencer
A Commemorative Volume
Treasury Recreates Anne's World
I enjoyed reading this book and found it was like stepping through an invisible doorway and into Anne's world. With wallpaper of the period trimming the pages, and offerings and activities, as mentioned below, this treasury has lovingly recreated Anne's life at Green Gables in what is truly a special commemorative volume.
- Recipes Anne would have made, including Marilla's plum puffs
- Handcrafts as they were done in Anne's day, including how to make crocheted lace and a pressed flower picture
- Flowers, as would have grown in Anne's garden and instructions on how to candy violets to use as garnishes and edible treats
- Learn about day-to-day life at Green Gables.
- Read quotations from the Anne books
- Enjoy 150 full-color reproductions of original paintings and sketches.
- Take a tour of the island through the drawings and maps, including a specially-designed Anne Tour of Prince Edward Island.
A must-have for those who love the Land of Anne.
Have You Visited Green Gables?
Order of the Books
- Anne of Green Gables
- Anne of Avonlea
- Anne of the Island
- Anne of Windy Poplars
- Anne's House of Dreams
- Anne of Ingleside
- Rainbow Valley
- Rilla of Ingleside
- The Blythes Are Quoted
- The Road to Yesterday
A Must-See if You Are in Atlantic Canada
For those who visit the Maritimes, a day spent exploring Green Gables and attractions nearby is time well spent. There's much to see and do, and setting aside a day or more is a good idea, in order to fully experience and enjoy the Land of Anne and the farmhouse with the bright green gables, where it all began.
© 2011 Athlyn Green