A PEI Road Trip, Part 1 – Anne’s Land
I recently played tour guide to my mom and two aunts, on a 3-day road trip to Prince Edward Island. Fortunately, I was among kindred spirits who also were up for an in-depth Anne Shirley and Lucy Maud Montgomery experience.
I decided I’d highlight my weekend, for any Anne (or author) fans out there who might be planning their island getaway and Anne adventure. It wasn’t all Anne and Lucy Maud Montgomery though, and we managed to fit in other stops.
An Adventure Begins
Back in July we discussed getting away for a break and what we’d like to do. PEI was an obvious choice and everyone was happy about that. All that was needed was a date to go. Fast forward a month, we had no date set, and on a Monday I realized I had a free weekend coming up.
My mom and aunts were free and could go. Now, to find a place to stay during one the busiest times on the island. Old Home Week and summer, in general, means no vacancy. Unless you book far in advance, and we hadn’t.
Having been a travel agent for twenty years, I’m used to the conventional methods of booking accommodations, and things like Airbnb were never high on my radar, for a few good reasons. Lately, however, I’ve branched out and experienced two Airbnb stays on the island. When traditional methods weren’t working, I turned back to this new way.
Even Airbnb options were selling out and there were 11 choices! We were quick to pick one and get it booked.
Because I’m familiar with Prince Edward Island, I’m willing to test the Airbnb waters. There were two things about the accommodations to take into account. The location in Murray River meant a 45-minute drive to Charlottetown and about an hour to Cavendish. It was also on the pricey side.
I know PEI well, and wasn’t worried about the distance or driving around, getting lost, etc. I was excited to stay in an area I’ve not been to before. Since we were splitting the cost, it was affordable for each of us. We wanted a nice place, so we booked this awesome two bedroom, two bath condo/apartment in Murray River. It was newer and modern, with a full kitchen and plenty of amenities. The hosts were fabulous! One point to Airbnb this time.
Day One, Friday
A relatively short day as we travelled to our destination. I booked the Airbnb in the morning, so we put off leaving until we had confirmation. I usually take the Confederation Bridge to PEI, but we decided to take the ferry. The ferry departs from Caribou, Nova Scotia, daily, every 90 minutes. It arrives at Wood Islands, PEI, after a 75-minute crossing,(and it was only a twenty-minute drive from our Airbnb! Another good reason for us to take the ferry). It gives you a break from driving, so you can relax and feel like you’re starting your vacation a little sooner.
Ferry service is not year-round, as the Northumberland Strait freezes over. If you would like more information on the two Caribou-Wood Islands ferries, visit the Northumberland Ferries site.
We had hoped to leave early in the day so we could fit in a sunset beach walk or other exploring but it didn’t work out. We enjoyed the ferry crossing and made our way to our Airbnb, where we met our wonderful host, Gord. After settling in, we set out for Montague and a grocery store. Montague is a lovely town, even in the dark. I’ve visited Montague before with my mother and daughter. We did some shopping and headed back to Murray River, about a 15-20 minute drive.
Day Two, Saturday
After a great sleep, we all enjoyed the morning, made a lovely breakfast to sit and enjoy together, then proceeded to get ready for our day. On the day’s agenda were Charlottetown and Cavendish.
We’re off to Anne’s Land
A scenic drive along the Northumberland Strait coastline had us headed to Cavendish, on the North Coast of the Island. First up, was the Anne of Green Gables Museum at Silver Bush in Park Corner, twenty minutes west of Cavendish. Or so we thought. It turns out Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Birthplace, is on the same route, so we stopped here first.
The Lucy Maud Montgomery Birthplace
Lucy Maud Montgomery is the author of the Anne of Green Gables series of books, and numerous other books, poems, short stories, etc. She was born in a small house in New London (Clifton at the time), on November 30th, 1874. This little house turned museum is worth the stop for fans. It is small and quick to tour if you’re short on time. The staff will give you a tour and talk, highlighting the life of Lucy Maud. They have several books for sale and sell Anne of Green Gable’s knick-knacks. There is a replica of Lucy Maud’s wedding dress on display, as the original is being specially stored in Charlottetown.
Anne of Green Gables Museum at Silver Bush, Park Corner
Once we finished at the Birthplace Museum, we continued to Park Corner and the Anne of Green Gables Museum at Silver Bush. This 110-acre property has been owned by the Campbell family for more than 230 years. Lucy Maud’s aunt and cousins lived here and she visited often. It is the setting for two of her novels, Pat of Silver Bush, and Mistress Pat.
It is also where you’ll find the Lake of Shining Waters, and they offer Matthew’s Carriage Rides for a fee. L.M. Montgomery referred to this house as her wonder castle, and she and the Reverand MacDonald were married in the living room. You can also book your wedding here if you so choose! They offer wedding packages.
Inside the house, you’ll find on display a crazy quilt made by Lucy Maud when she was a teenager, as well as the enchanted bookcase described in the Anne books.
It is here that I bought a special edition printing of Anne of Green Gables. George Campbell, the current owner, had 3000 copies printed with the original cover and text from the first publication in 1908. He signed all of the books. When you purchase a book, they stamp it with a green stamp of the house, and with an L.M. Montgomery signature stamp. My aunt and I also had our book signed by Pam Campbell, another family member who was there that day. I enjoyed our visit here. The grounds are nice, including a playground, gazebo, and flower gardens. There is also a large gift and craft store in a separate building.
Green Gables Heritage Place, Cavendish
Once back in Cavendish, we headed to the Anne of Green Gables Heritage Place. This is Anne Shirley’s home, where she comes to live with Matthew and Marilla, in the novel. The home was owned by the MacNeill’s, relatives of Lucy Maud, and she spent time there as a child. It became Green Gables in her novel, just like Cavendish became Avonlea.
The house has been carefully set up to resemble the descriptions in the novel.
There are the trails, Balsom Hollow and Lovers Lane, and the Haunted Wood (The path through the woods, up and across the road to the L.M. Montgomery Homesite).
May and June saw the opening of a brand new visitors centre. There is a large lobby, washrooms, and interpretive exhibits. There is also a gift shop and a brand new Starbucks on-site.
Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Cavendish Home
Family-owned, this site has a separate fee to walk the grounds. This is where Lucy Maud grew up, living with her grandparents. The foundation is all that remains of the house, at least until this summer. The kitchen post office has returned home… it is not open yet to the public as it’s being prepared. When you visit, there is a one-room building housing artifacts, and selling books and other items. The site is owned and operated by the MacNeill family. The new kitchen/post office should be open for next season.
Avonlea Village, Cavendish
We did not stop at the village, but I’m including it here so you’ll know it’s an option. It’s a great place to stop and find a place to eat and do some shopping. The village of Avonlea has been recreated, so it’ll be fun as well.
Green Gables Post office, Cavendish
The post office is open seasonally, but what’s special about this one is the Anne Shirley cancellation stamp they mark every letter and postcard with. It’s her straw hat with a ribbon around it. I love this idea, it’s a memorable keepsake! They sell postcards including pre-paid postage to anywhere in the world, or you can use one you’ve bought elsewhere or a letter. Send to a friend, fan or yourself as a keepsake.
We didn’t stop at the post office on Saturday, but on day 3, Sunday.
I added it here so you’ll know to stop in! We would have stopped on Saturday if it had been open.
Charlottetown, Here We Come
Five-thirty came, and museums and sites closed. Off we drove to Charlottetown and the Gahan House for dinner! One of my favourite pubs in downtown Charlottetown, the Gahan House serves up a tasty menu and to-die-for dessert.
We arrived at 6pm and were seated at a patio table 20-30 minutes later. I ordered chicken nachos, two ordered the brown bag fish and chips, and one the pan-fried haddock. No complaints! Tasty and filling, but not too filling to share a dessert with my aunt! I’m a sucker for chocolate… A hot brownie with chocolate sauce and ice cream. Yes, please.
Stay tuned, Day Three’s Adventures are yet to come! Hope you enjoyed part one and found some useful info. Watch for part 2, featuring a lighthouse!
On to A PEI Road Trip, Part 2-Going Coastal