Lucy Maud Montgomery is one of Canada’s most cherished authors and literary legends. Her enduring international legacy comprises 20 novels which include the beloved Anne of Green Gables series, as well as 530 short stories, 500 poems and 30 essays. Born in 1874 in Clifton, Prince Edward Island, and affectionately called Maud, she was a teacher, a minister’s wife, and an officer of the Order of the British Empire. But did you know that Lucy Maud Montgomery also spent fifteen years right here in York Durham Headwaters? We’re thrilled to announce the launch of the all-new Anne and Maud Experience which celebrates all things Lucy Maud Montgomery, and her life in Durham Region. This experience kicks off on June 12th with a community event that is free to all. If you’re an Anne of Green Gables fan, you won’t want to miss this!
Maud in Leaskdale
Just about every Canadian child knows about the little orphan girl Anne “With an E” Shirley, of her life in the fictional Prince Edward Island town of Avonlea, of her search for a kindred spirit and of her love for Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert. But many, if not most, don’t know that Leaskdale was the site of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s most prolific writing. It is from the Leaskdale manse, in her very own parlour, that Maud extended Anne’s adventures through further books. Because of this, and because of her achievements as a writer, her home is now a National Historic Site of Canada and is open to the public, with lots of great programming that is both educational and entertaining.
Because of its proximity to Leaskdale, Uxbridge was a town that was quite familiar to Maud. This was the area’s centre for shopping and recreation. Today, the iconic train station in Uxbridge is home to the York Durham Heritage Railway, which operates themed tourist train excursions and events. The rail line, originally built in the late 1860s and restored in 1904, is where Maud first arrived to the area in 1911. She would ride this train regularly from Uxbridge to Toronto to attend meetings for the Canadian Author Association.
Now, nearly a hundred years later, Maud’s literary world has been brought to life in film and television. Did you know that the Pickering Museum Village is the site of production for the 1985 series Anne of Green Gables, the 1990 Road to Avonlea series, and the 2017 Anne reboot, Anne with an “E”? There is no question that Maud’s legacy is well-preserved and well-represented here, where she spent more than a decade of her life!
The all-new Anne and Maud Experience
With such a deep connection to Durham Region both during and after her life, Discover Uxbridge, the Pickering Museum Village, local Uxbridge businesses and the Leaskdale Manse National Historic Site have come together to create the all-new Anne and Maud Experience.
First stop: The Leaskdale Manse
Your adventure begins at the Leaskdale Manse National Historic Site, the house that Maud called home for over a decade, and where she authored 11 books while raising her family. Reserve your Tour & Tea package which will take you on a tour of the manse, restored to its 1917 glory. After a photo-op in the garden with a full-sized statue of Maud herself, you will be treated to tea and scones on Maud’s own Limoges China dishes “Bridal Rose.” There is fun for the kids, too. They will be delighted by the manse’s Cavendish cat, as well as ice-cream making activities.
Second stop: Downtown Uxbridge
Once your time at the manse is complete, travel into Uxbridge, where Lucy Maud Montgomery shopped and spent her time away from home. If you’re hungry, grab lunch at one of the town’s celebrated restaurants like Jurgen’s Deli, Urban Pantry or Navarra’s Eatery (and many more to suit every palate). Then stop in at Blue Heron Books and write a letter to your kindred spirit on custom Anne stationery, or pick up your free craft kit (quantities limited). Commemorate your adventure with a photo at the Anne-themed photo booth, and grab a copy of the Anne of Green Gables cookbook signed by Maud’s granddaughter. And finally, walk next door to The Bridge Social, where you are invited to try Anne’s favourite organic raspberry cordial while your wee ones climb the hopscotch leaderboard, which will be displayed in Blue Heron Books all summer.
Third stop: York-Durham Heritage Railway
Stand on the very spot where Maud boarded the train for her frequent trips to Toronto, and dine trackside with a fine-dining experience courtesy of the York-Durham Heritage Railway. Your experience is not complete without a slice of the TIN Restaurant’s famous carrot cake. After all, what could bring you closer to Anne—a.k.a. “Carrots”—herself?
Events and experiences
Still haven’t gotten your fill of all things Anne Shirley? Check out these additional opportunities to satisfy your hankering:
The Lucy Maud Montgomery Trail – You are cordially invited to take a self-guided driving tour of approximately three to four hours (with stops), and explore the story of the famous author and her life while living in the Uxbridge area from 1911 to 1926. This two-hour tour invites you to follow in the footsteps of Maud herself, as you listen along to a podcast about her life in the Uxbridge Area—a period which spanned both the First World War and the 1918 influenza pandemic—and to make a detour to some wonderful local businesses along the way.
The Anne and Maud Discovery Trail – It is well known that Lucy Maud Montgomery was inspired by nature, a trait which she wrote into her beloved character Anne Shirley. The Anne and Maud Discovery Trail is part of the Trans Canada Trail, and is located beside the Pickering Museum Village. Visit the Anne and Maud Discovery Trail, and take in the scenery, sounds and smells. Conjure your inner Maud, and create a story or poem that uses these trails and natural wonders as your setting!
The Anne Experience at Pickering Museum Village – Back by popular demand, you can explore the world of Anne of Green Gables in a behind-the-camera tour of the Pickering Museum Village, which has been the set of various “Anne” productions for nearly 40 years. This experience runs until September 4th, 2022. Enjoy a picnic lunch, have scones and tea, and listen to an audio tour in which Anne recounts some of her favourite memories. You will also be invited to visit the historic houses at the PMV, where you will learn not only about Lucy Maud Montgomery, but about historic fashions from Anne’s time, too. And finally, participate in a painting workshop as you bring the past to life.
The Anne Chronicles Podcast – Known to her friends and family as Maud, this Canadian author created the beloved character of Anne Shirley. With this delightful podcast, you can discover intriguing connections between fact and fiction as you explore the worlds of Maud and her internationally beloved orphan, Anne “With an E” from the convenience of your mobile device.
Story by Katherine Ryalen