Dan of Green Gables

Do you like what I did there with the title?

We woke up for the 8am breakfast, forgetting that there’s a time difference between here and Toronto so breakfast was at 7am our time. No wonder we felt tired. We were the only guests (silly enough) to eat at that time so we had a bit of a chat to Vicki and Martha, about what we do and about the trials of running a B&B (rarely getting time off).

I was a bit dismayed at breakfast because we were looking in the PEI tourism guide at the information for the Green Gables Heritage Place and it said that between September and October it was only open Tuesday to Saturday. I was sure I’d read that back in Toronto and checked the website to find it was open every day until the end of October, however, when faced with it again, in print, my confidence wavered. Martha said there was a cruise ship coming in today with about 500 people so more than likely it would be open to accommodate them.

We set off shortly after 9am, taking the central drive. The PEI Tourism people have divided the island into four drives: Green Gables Central, Red Sand Central, East Coast and North Coast (or something to that effect). We needed to follow the Green Gables sign, which, coincidentally, had a picture of a green house on it.

Dalvay by the Sea
Dalvay by the Sea

Martha gave us some directions and suggestions, saying which turn off to take along the Green Gables route. We headed north to Dalvay and stopped at a house called Dalvay by the Sea, which was used for exteriors for the Anne of Green Gables tv series. Built by an American at the end of the 19th century, it wasn’t properly insulated so didn’t get used very much. They serve Devonshire tea there…in the summer months.

We really did pick an unfortunate time to come to the island. Initially, we chose this time because it’s near our anniversary and this was about the time we were going to get married next year and Prince Edward Island was a location idea. However, most of the attractions shut down in mid-October and the rest close at the end of October. Plus it’s cold and it rained for most of today. Despite this, we still managed to enjoy ourselves, driving around in a heated car, checking out the countryside.

Unfortunately, we noticed that, at least in the parts we drove through, most of it is farmland with a few groves of fir trees left standing, nothing like a big forest as yet. The fall colours are beautiful, when you see them, but we haven’t seen them in any great numbers because it’s mostly farmland. We did drive past a pumpkin patch with bright orange pumpkins all over it. That was pretty cool. And it’s strengthened my desire to buy a couple of pumpkins when we get back to Toronto and carve jack-o-lanterns.

We took a short detour when we got to one intersection as I’d seen a white church on a hill surrounded by trees in the distance. Luckily, it was easy to get to and didn’t require much of a divergence. One thing Prince Edward Island has in abundance is churches. They’re everywhere. United, Presbyterian, Anglican, Catholic and more. Each town, each small town, seems to have a couple, which makes sense in the olden days when it was so far to the next village by horse-drawn buggy, but today it just looks like there are a lot of sinners on the island that need saving.

It was while leaving the church that I drove on the wrong side of the road for the first time. Thankfully, the car coming towards us was a distance away and I realised well in advance. It happened a second time later in the trip. Scary how the automatic habit of driving on the left just kicked in. I must be getting comfortable with driving and not in hyper-tense mode now so these things are slipping.

While driving along the northern coast (We saw the ocean. It was grey and stormy.) we saw a car pulled off the road up ahead. We slowed as they weren’t completely off the road and then spotted a fox next to their car, alive, and waiting for treats to be thrown from the window, which they were. While I don’t agree the people in the other car should have been feeding it, and I should have either said something or tried to scare the fox off, it was amazing to see this beautiful animal out in the open. Back home, they’re a pest (yet still beautiful). This one was larger than ones I’ve seen in Australia and just looked so lovely. Still wouldn’t want it around your chickens though.

We finally made it to the Green Gables Heritage Place. So sad that it was raining. The building was the inspiration for the book. Maud Montgomery never lived there but she visited it often as the people who lived there were relatives. None of the movie that I saw was filmed there, from what I understand. The Haunted Woods and Lovers Lane are real and we walked through the Haunted Woods but didn’t get to Lovers Lane. Unfortunately, the rain made it all a bit dour.

But we went inside the house, which we thought was quite large inside (low door frames though), with quite a few rooms, done up in the style of the time. Every wall was covered in wallpaper, which didn’t seem that accurate but perhaps it was (surely it was expensive). There was also a barn which we walked through and we watched a short film about Maud Montgomery, her life, and the effect of the books.

It was amazing to think that because of Anne of Green Gables, Prince Edward Island has this whole other stream of tourism. Sure, there are other reasons to come to the island but essentially, it’s a bit like every other island. Anne of Green Gables really helps bring in the tourist dollars and has done ever since the book was published in the early 20th century.

I was glad I finished the first book before we went because then I had more of an understanding of the place and could piece it together with my memories of watching the film with Mum. I told Glen about the significance of the Haunted Wood in the books and how it all came about. Made it all a bit more meaningful than if I hadn’t. I think Mum would have liked it there.

By the time we finished it was about 1pm and we were really hungry. Most restaurants outside main town centres are closed for the off-season. We drove to Kensington to check out a bakery that the guidebook said was open all year round. When we arrived, it was closed. It might be open year round but it’s not open on Sundays. We went to a pub instead, the Island Stone Pub I think, and had a pretty nice lunch.

We then drove back to Charlottetown, stopped off to get a razor so Glen could shave (he bought the cheapest razor he could find and his face now hurts), then went back to the B&B for a nap.

We woke up two hours later and went for dinner at the Merchantman; Glen had a whole crab so had to go through a similar process to what I did yesterday. He didn’t break the nutcracker this time. I said my hands itched after handling the lobster last night and he just gave me a look. Maybe I’m allergic to something after all, though I didn’t feel ill from eating it. Tonight I had a large piece of salmon. Very filling.

I wouldn’t mind coming back to the island in the warmer months to see what it looks like and maybe spend a bit more time on an Anne of Green Gables pilgrimage (they even have an Anne of Green Gables musical that plays every year in the summer), just to see it all when the weather is nicer. However, if we don’t make it back, I won’t be heartbroken. For all the grey and the rain, it was lovely to just drive around. Tomorrow we’re checking out the eastern part of the island before flying back in the evening.

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