Every Laura Ingalls Wilder museum or Caddie Woodlawn site should take a page from what PEI has done with L.M. Montgomery’s classic, Anne of Green Gables. They have created a living book museum. Characters from the pages of the book roam an authentic early 1900s village. The visitor is free to roam in and out of the buildings and interact with the characters.
Mrs. Lynde gives a knitting loom demonstration. Matthew Cuthbert comes and goes from the farm animals that are kept on the premises. A horse drawn wagon leaves from the barn every 15 minutes throughout the day, line up and come on board, no extra cost. Old time puzzles and games are strewn on the bench to amuse while you wait. They are the bent nail type puzzles, get them apart or put them together. There is an ice cream shop, a chocolate shop and a general store. Moody Spurgeon, Josie Pye, Dianna Barry, Gilbert, Anne, Marilla and others will answer questions and pose for pictures.
Besides all this, scenes from the book are acted out on several stages throughout the day. The short skits take from 10-30 minutes each and if you catch it, the characters enact more scenes from the books as they progress through the village.
The schoolhouse playground has swings and teeter totters, jump ropes and stilts for the kids to try. It also holds and immense box, filled with good red PEI sand and local artists give lessons in sand sculpture. Emma and Leah tried the stilts but declined the sand. There is a small café, Mandy had chicken potpie for lunch and I tried the homemade meatloaf sandwich, both delicious.
The fishing shanty is a venue for Island folk music. Piano, fiddle, guitar, bass fiddle and sometimes spoons get your toes tapping and your hands to clapping. Josie Pye and Dianna Barry joined the group for a dance on the order of Irish step dancing. Three shows are performed throughout the day.
We arrived at the village just after ten and stayed until the last skit at three. We had plenty to keep us interested and yet never felt rushed, hurried or pressured. One building held tables with pictures to color and 1900s games to play. From the arts and crafts that decorated the rooms it was an easy guess that hands on crafts were available.
Of course the inevitable gift shop was the last stop on the way out of the park. We left a fair amount of American money behind when we departed.
The day is not complete without a stop at Green Gables. The house of Anne fame really exists while the village of Avonlea is a figment of L.M. Montgomery’s imagination. Green Gables as described in the books was the home of the author’s uncle. She spent much time in it and on the surrounding acreage as a child. The woods in which she set the Haunted Wood and Lovers Lane are well kept walking paths. The Lake of Shining Water is in the area, but we did not see it. Here too was a gift shop and Mandy and I both were willing to skip it until we saw it had the PEI red dirt shirts. We left more American money in Canada.
We enjoyed our day and as Amanda expressed it, “never once did I feel overwhelmed.” I would add that neither did we feel bored. We let Emma and Leah set the pace, decide where to go and when. Jason and the boys spent the afternoon golfing while we visited Avonlea. We all did the Green Gables house and then headed for home.
The tide was out as well as the sun and we enjoyed the late afternoon and early evening at the beach.
Tomorrow is our last day here. It will be a full day at the beach house and we leave early Saturday morning for New England, and through to Niagara Falls where we spend two nights and a day and then back to Milwaukee. I talked with John this morning and checked out his latest post. Matthew is glad to be at home in Chennai, John and I are looking forward to being at home again, together in Eau Claire. Mandy has phone messages about scheduling doctor’s appointments and fall baseball. The kids keep reminding us it is August and school begins in less than three weeks. Suddenly vacation is rushing to merge once again with real time. It happens, but we have one more long day at the beach and one day at Niagara before it is final. We will make the most of them both.