When my family decided to go on a cruise in July as our summer vacation, I know there was but one reason my mom chose our particular route from Montreal to Boston: to see the place of Anne Shirley’s origins.
Anne played a role in both of our childhoods—I hardly know a woman alive today who wasn’t affected by Anne—and we wanted to see the romantic Prince Edward Island which enchanted her and ignited words in her soul. SVV went off with his parents and they did their own thing, while the rest of our group took a duck tour of the island. But the three of us Anne devotees—my mom, Ginny and I—set off in search of Green Gables. After stepping off the boat, we found a driver who would give us the full island tour for $30 a piece; another couple from Michigan rounded out our crew. We were off in search of the north coast and Anne’s homestead!
As you might imagine given its prime location on the Gulf of St. Lawrence and near the Atlantic Ocean, PEI’s biggest industry is shellfish harvesting, including lobsters, oysters and mussels. Our first stop was to a mussel farm to see how they “grow” the mussels in mesh sacks attached to water columns and harvest them after 12 to 24 months. (Like when I went to the oyster farm in Tasmania, I opted not to do any sampling! Too slimy for this girl.)
Next, we moved along and past the exact spot where Kate and Will had picnicked the day before. I secretly hoped we might “run into” the Royals again, but during our sailing day between Quebec City and Charlottestown, it seems they got ahead of us by a day.
Or maybe we did see them after all…
Still, we visited the inn at Dalvay by the Sea where the whole soiree went down—Will and Kate even raced by dragonboat while here!—met the owner (who made his fortune on buying Tim Hortons that were going out of business) and dreamed about coming back to PEI for a longer stint and staying there, too.
PEI is very rugged with the charm of New England and a sense of peaceful quiet I’ve never quite experienced before. I imagine I might go crazy living there with as little as there is to do, but I could definitely deal with coming here every summer for vacation!
Surprisingly, the part of the whole tour which was overrated was none other than Green Gables. As we excitedly neared Cavendish, the very spot where Anne came to live with the Cuthberts, the terrain changed drastically—from grassy knolls to strip malls and an amusement park with a Ferris wheel. What a disappointment!
Pretty much all of Cavendish has been built up around Anne. There are straw hats with fire engine red pigtail braids attached, and the provincial license plate once bore Anne’s likeness.
We got to Green Gables and entered the small museum, which was interesting enough, only to find that Green Gables wasn’t even a real place. The home was owned by Lucy Maud Montgomery’s aunt and uncle and did inspire the setting for the series (Lucy even wrote many of the books in the series from the house); however, Green Gables was only fictional. The whole movie wasn’t even filmed here (though select scenes from it took place out on the trails surrounding the house)!
Still, people will take the opportunity to make a buck when they can, so the whole farmhouse was turned into a replica of Anne’s home. It is what it is, but I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way to visit if you happen to be passing through PEI.
From there, we headed back to Charlottestown to conclude our tour where we found my dad and Tom mingling with some new friends.
The five of us grabbed some seafood and local libations before boarding the ship again and heading down the Atlantic coast to our next stop.