Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Friday, December 9, 2022

Lucy Maud's (not so very) happy place

 "Homesickness" replied the guide. I had just marvelled at the astonishing literary output of a former resident of this village, nostalgic stories based in a long-forgotten era in a seaside world she had left and longed for always.

On a July.stay in Port Perry I had the opportunity to visit a National Historic Site I had long wanted to see, in  Leaskdale, Ontario. This plain buff brick house was the home of the writer Lucy Maud Montgomery for 15 years. The manse and the lovely church up the road are now busy museums open to the public. There are quite a few houses in the hamlet which were standing when Montgomery (1864 - 1942) lived and wrote in Leaskdale,  a tiny place at the bottom of an impressive hill in beautiful (remarkably, still) open countryside.

Most girls of my generation spent at least some of their youth reading the novels of L.M. Montgomery. Here's a bio from the Canadian Encyclopedia Montgomery upon which I doubt I can improve.

My purpose in returning to these photos is to contemplate her life here, in this place even my hosts in nearby Port Perry did not know about. Getting in touch with the stifling Edwardian life of the wife of a Presbyterian minister suffering from major depressive disorder in the 1910s. It gets worse, but I'm not going there.

neighbouring farm where LM found her muse

Instead, because loss and longing have become part of my vocabulary, I want to think about how much Lucy Maud missed rural PEI and the ocean, and how she found her solace  and inspiration in the countryside here, which in a part of Ontario increasingly blanketed with graceless subdivisions, is still bucolic and lovely.

LM Montgomery's famous Anne of Green Gables was published in 1908. She wrote eleven of her 22 novels in this simple house with few conveniences and high expectations.

I've always found it interesting, though it's seldom commented upon, that although LM married Ewan Macdonald in 1911, she "kept her maiden name" (what a quaint old expression) in her published writing.

her statue in a lovely garden at the church

A really great resource if this story captures your attention, or your heart is the LMMontgomery Society of Ontario. There's tons more information there. 

And if this visit is not enough, I suggest you venture here. I suspect I will. 

1 comment:

  1. Lindi, first blog in a while. Congratulations on finding your muse again, LM Montgomery was a muse for so many of us girls of a certain age - Veronica Leonard