An Anne of Green Gables Tour on Prince Edward Island

Take a literary pilgrimage on Canada’s Prince Edward Island, which preserves sites connected to the beloved red-haired heroine Anne of Green Gables.

Prince Edward Island in Canada attracts visitors from around the world because of its connection to the beloved Anne of Green Gables books. (Credit: Tourism PEI/John Sylvester)

You don’t have to love Anne of Green Gables to enjoy Prince Edward Island in Canada, but it certainly helps. And if you’re a fan of the L.M. Montgomery books, visiting P.E.I. is likely the fulfillment of a long-held dream.

It certainly was for me when I visited the 140-mile-long island that’s one of the maritime provinces of eastern Canada. Anne of Green Gables was my favorite childhood book, and seeing the real sites behind the story brought every wonderful memory flooding back.

The house that served as the inspiration for Anne‘s home is preserved by the Green Gables Heritage Place. (photo by Lori Erickson)

I began my literary pilgrimage at the Green Gables Heritage Place in the town of Cavendish, which in the L.M. Montgomery books is known as Avonlea. Managed by Parks Canada, the site serves as an introduction to All-Things-Anne.

Its visitor center describes how Lucy Maud Montgomery was born on the island in 1874. After her mother died of tuberculosis when she was 21 months old, Montgomery was raised by her maternal grandparents. She grew up to become a school teacher and postmistress on the island, until at the age of 37 she married a Presbyterian minister. Though the two moved to Ontario, Prince Edward Island remained her spiritual home for the rest of her life, and her trips to the island sustained her throughout their troubled marriage.

L.M. Montgomery was born on Prince Edward Island and used it as the backdrop for nearly 20 novels, including Anne of Green Gables. (photo courtesy of Green Gables Heritage Place)

I was especially interested in the exhibits describing Montgomery’s lifelong passion for writing. Anne of Green Gables was her first novel, published in 1908. Nineteen other books followed, all but one set on Prince Edward Island. A wall filled with books in many languages shows the worldwide reach of her most famous heroine Anne.

Next it was time to visit the park’s main landmark: the green-gabled house where Montgomery’s cousins once lived, which the author turned into the fictional home of Anne. Wandering through its homey rooms filled with late-nineteenth-century furnishings, it was easy to imagine Anne interacting with Matthew and Marilla, the elderly brother and sister who took her in as an orphan.

After leaving the house I followed the leafy trail that winds through the Haunted Wood and Lover’s Lane, sites featured in the Anne books. Arriving at Montgomery Park, I admired a bronze statue of the famous author that shows her with eyes closed and chin raised in a moment of inspiration.

In Cavendish on Prince Edward Island, Montgomery Park features a statue of L.M. Montgomery. (photo by Lori Erickson)

My literary pilgrimage continued at the nearby site where her childhood home once stood, its location marked by quotations from her works. “The incidents and environment of my childhood had a marked influence on my literary gift,” Montgomery wrote. “Were it not for those Cavendish years I do not think ‘Anne of Green Gables’ would ever have been written.”

After paying my respects at the cemetery where Montgomery is buried, I drove seven miles to the small home where she was born. Its exhibits include selections from her journals and scrapbooks (which prominently feature pictures of her beloved cats) as well as a replica of her wedding dress.

As I left, I met a red-haired Irish woman who was on her own Anne pilgrimage. When I told her that her hair was like Anne’s, her face lit up, and it felt like we belonged to a secret society of kindred spirits, to use a term from Anne herself.

At the Green Gables Heritage Place, a wall of books translated into many languages shows the worldwide reach of Anne of Green Gables. (photo by Lori Erickson)

The Anne of Green Gables Museum was next on my list. Montgomery’s cousins had lived here and she and her husband were married in its parlor in 1911. I was amused to see the nearby pond that was the inspiration for the Lake of Shining Waters, evidence of Anne’s sometimes over-active imagination.

Then it was on to Prince Edward Island National Park, which preserves 25 miles of pristine sand beaches, grassy bluffs and red cliffs, all of which are richly described in Montgomery’s books. I was struck by how much gentler the landscape is than in nearby Nova Scotia, where rocky coasts predominate. In contrast, Prince Edward Island is mostly gently rolling farmland bordered by peaceful beaches that provide a perfect escape for lazy afternoons. I watched as groups of families and couples enjoyed the sun and sea, a modern echo of the many hours Montgomery spent at the shore with her friends and family.

After a full day of touring that had taken me to the most significant of the Anne sites, it was time to explore the island’s capital of Charlottetown. A narrated trolley ride gave me an overview of the picturesque city, which is named after Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III. Our guide explained that the city is known as the Birthplace of Confederation because it was the site of an 1864 meeting that led to the formation of modern-day Canada. We passed blocks filled with charming clapboard homes and Victorian red-brick buildings, and then toured the harbor where floating docks house restaurants. Our last stop was Victoria Park, where a wide sidewalk next to the sea was filled with walkers and bicyclists.

After enjoying a meal of locally caught fish on the patio at Merchantman Fresh Seafood and Oyster Bar, I ended my stay on the island with a performance of Anne of Green Gables: The Musical. After seeing all the sites connected to her life, I was grateful to see Anne in the flesh, the friend who’d been such an important part of my youth.


If You Go:

Prince Edward Island can be reached by taking a flight into the Charlottetown airport, boarding a ferry from Nova Scotia, or driving the eight-mile Confederation Bridge that connects to New Brunswick. For more information on Prince Edward Island tourism, see


Lori Erickson is one of America’s top travel writers specializing in spiritual journeys. She’s the author of books that include Holy RoverNear the ExitThe Soul of the Family Tree, and Every Step Is HomeHer website Spiritual Travels features holy sites around the world.

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