Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Kimberley Arcand: History of Anne

(Kimberley Arcand joins the contributors here with this post.  Welcome!)

As June rolled in and the dusty doors of Parliament Hill were open, the normal political jumbo began to spring from the House of Commons. However, during that poignant week of Parliament, all I could remember was talk about the Royal visit and where William and Kate (now Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) will be going. One particular rumoured place was a visit to Green Gables: the inspiration of the fictional childhood home of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s famous character (Canadian) Anne.  Located in Cavendish (not Avonlea) PEI, this home was once owned by David and Margaret Macneil, a distant relative of Montgomery’s. This heritage site is now a representation of the fictional world of Montgomery’s novels representing both the life of the author as well as the character.

During my undergrad I had spent sometime reading about Montgomery (due to my love for Anne) to understand how she along with her characters, including her other heroine Emily of New Moon, played an important role to Canada culture and identity. One reason Montgomery along with Anne and Emily has become a part of Canadian culture is strictly due to the popularity of the novels across the world. As the media talks about the Royal Visit, they highlight that it is Kate’s desire to visit this popular heritage site and that it is because she enjoyed reading the novels when she was a child.

I feel that sometimes the popularity of Montgomery’s novels is still a large reason why she is a part of our identity, rather than an enteral connection to the texts themselves. However, I see a new form of engagement with Montgomery’s Avonlea. No longer just representing a beautiful fictional world, Montgomery’s novels now reflect a historical view and a past culture and Canadian identity. 

Green Gables, which is now a heritage site with Parks Canada, is not just a celebration of a famous novel or two famous Canadians (if you include Anne) but a celebration of Canadian culture at the turn of the century. So like Kate and William celebrate Parks Canada’s Centennial at Green Gables or by the book for your summer reading list! Not only will you get swept away to a different time and place in Canadian history, but understand a past Canadian culture and identity a little better.

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