Anne of Green Gables' Prince Edward Island
I was walking the Balsam Hollow trail when deep in the forest, I heard bird songs in concert with the sound of rushing waters. I stopped at the tiny bridge to listen to the sound of the rushing waters and admire the streak of sunlight reflected on the water under the giant trees when a girl with long red hair and wearing a dull-grayish puff sleeve dress with a cream-colored apron came skipping through the trees. She was holding a wicker basket covered with an embroidered cloth. “I’m off to the Lake of Shining Waters,” she said. “Wait, Anne, wait,” I shouted after her, “Can I come with you.”
|The Balsam Hollow Trail|
Ok, that was a stretch. The Anne part didn’t really happen. But where I was standing it could easily have happened. I imagined my favorite character in the book, “Anne of Green Gables” describing to me in flowery words the places and things I was seeing. With her passion for beautiful places, she would have been a great tour guide. Ever since I read the book (ok I read it more than a couple of times as a young adult) and watched the TV series, I had always dreamt of visiting Prince Edward Island. So, it’s hard to separate the real from fiction when you’re touring the landscape that Anne made memorable like the Haunted Wood, Lover’s Lane, the Birch Path, and the Lake of Shining Waters.
Today, Green Gables Heritage Place is one of the most popular tourist attractions in PEI. The setting for Lucy M. Montgomery book comprised of the farmhouse, a white shingled house with green shutters perched on a small hill; a barn; trails that lead to the Haunted Wood, Lovers Lane, Balsam Hollow. Tourists were in line to go inside the farmhouse and it was challenging to get photos with all the people, so I took the trail in front of the house that leads to the ‘Haunted Woods’ first. I then went to enjoy the gardens surrounding the house before going into the house.
|MacNeils, Lucy M. Montgomery's cousin's house - the author inspiration for her book|
I was surprised to see the house inside, it was smaller than I expected. Perhaps it was the dark wallpaper pattern that made the rooms look smaller. There was a parlor with photographs and a shiny stove (not originally in the house, but placed in the house to reflect the era, according to the docent). Upstairs I found a series of bedrooms. One with a sprigged wallpaper and clothes left in a heap, designated as Anne’s.
As an outdoorsy person, I finished walking the Lover's Lane and Balsam Hollow trails at the back of the farmhouse. The end of the trail brought me back to the present-day era – there was a golf course. As I emerged from the forested trail the sound of nature was drowned by the noise of tractors cutting grass and the construction noise near the parking area.
Green Gables may be the heart of Cavendish, but the drive around the island was captivating. Beautiful pink and purple lupines covered the roadsides. Minutes away from the National Park entrance, we reached Cavendish Beach, a rust-colored sandy beach with beautiful red sandstone formations.
Of course, Prince Edward Island is famous for three things: tourism (thanks to its famed author Lucy M. Montgomery, farming (biggest potato producer), fishing (PEI mussels). We stopped at a fishing village, but instead of focusing my camera on the shore, I was fascinated by the Osprey birds nesting on top of a powerline post.
It was not until our return to the city that our driver stopped to point out the most scenic part of the drive: a pastoral landscape dotted with farmhouses.
Finally, we made it back to Charlottetown, the capital city of Prince Edward Island. The city was lined with historic buildings and dotted with century old churches.
|St Paul Anglican Church|
|St. Dunstan Basilica|
It had a small-town vibe that it was very pleasant to walk around the city, especially on a warm relaxing summer day. There were a museum and a small theater running what else, but “Anne of Green Gables" play. I stopped at Canada’s number one ice-cream place, consumed my ice-cream before having a lunch of lobster roll.
I was walking the boat-filled waterfront when I saw a small ‘hole in the wall eating area" rather a lobster shack in the water and hard to reach. I had to take a sharp incline ramp to reach it. But it was worth the challenge because it offered the best lobster roll in town – no frills, just fresh lobster. After taking my order, I realized I was short on Canadian dollars to pay for my lobster roll. However, the lady at the counter said, "It's okay, I own the place." I finally found some loose change to pay for the whole price. I wish I took a picture of the place because I highly recommend it not because the owner was so kind to give me the lobster roll even if I did not have enough money to pay for it, but it’s simply the best for a lobster roll. Or maybe that was the secret of Prince Edward Island, you have to discover it yourself. Finding the landscape that Anne described and finding someone with a kindred spirit complete my trip to Prince Edward Island.
All photos by the author