* The Geography of Green Gables
Avonlea is based on Cavendish, PEI, where L. M. Montgomery grew up. Today, fans can visit many attractions in Cavendish, including the Green Gables house.
I based my original, hand-drawn map of Avonlea on both the actual location of various places in Cavendish, and reconstructions found in The Anne of Green Gables Treasury, and a fan site, Notes on the Geography and Chronology of Green Gables.
L. M. Montgomery writes that Avonlea is “to a certain extent Cavendish,” (Selected Journals, v.1, Aug. 16, 1907) yet there are pieces of other places transplanted into the landscape, like The Lake of Shining Waters at Park Corner or the Birch Path from Outing Magazine.
Cavendish is situated at the intersection of three roads, one leading south to Hunter’s River (Bright River), one west to North Rustico (White Sands), one east to New London (Carmody.) Green Gables, based on the home of L. M. Montgomery’s cousins David MacNeill, Margaret MacNeill, and the Webbs, is situated on the southwest, and set back from the road. Lynde’s Hollow, commanding a view of all Avonlea’s comings and goings, is “Pierce Macneill’s” on the northwest corner of the intersection. L. M. Montgomery lived slightly beyond the intersection, on the southeast corner. Cavendish has two ponds, the larger MacNeill Pond and the smaller Clark’s pond, located near the beach, but neither are the Lake of Shining Waters.
Anne’s drive home with Matthew is probably an amalgation of L. M. Montgomery’s drives home from the two closest railway stations at Hunter River and Kensington. (Modern day visitors must reach Cavendish via one of these two towns, as well.) Anne and Matthew pass through a village, Newbridge, and cross the Lake of Shining Waters before arriving at Green Gables. Driving from the west, from Kensington, one passes through two towns: New London and Stanley Bridge. Yet only if Matthew took the road south to Hunter’s River could Mrs. Lynde see him pass by. Neither road traverses a pond; MacNeill’s Pond is further north and only a thin river at the road. The Lake of Shining Waters at Park Corner, however, is verily the long, narrow lake which the road bridges over. Anne’s drive home may be a combination of three drives — Kensington to Park Corner, Kensington to Cavendish, and Hunter’s River to Cavendish.
A. Margaret & David MacNeill (Green Gables) B. Pierce MacNeill’s (Lynde’s Hollow)
C. Cavendish School D. Cavendish Presbyterian Church, cemetary
E. Presbyterian Manse F. Cavendish Hall
Edited map from The Selected Journals of L. M. Montgomery, vol. I,
colouring and labelling mine
In L. M. Montgomery’s time, the Cavendish school, church and cemetary were on the same side of the road as Green Gables. Anne and Diana walk to school via Lover’s Lane, Mr. Barry’s back field, Willowmere, Violet’s Vale in Mr. Bell’s woods, the long Birch Path, and the school is across the main road. One must imagine the school is not adjacent to Green Gables as it is in real life Cavendish. L. M. Montgomery lived across the road and so would have to shortcut cross the road to go to school.* Anne’s walk to school is resembles a version of L. M. Montgomery’s own walks to school, with greater distances implied. Anne passes Mrs. Lynde’s house to go to church, too; so the church is transposed across the street in imagination.
I believe L. M. Montgomery based her settings very loosely on real-life, selecting her sites for certain specific features she loved about them, but not necessarily for their relationships to other locations. Green Gables was modeled on David MacNeill’s home because of Lover’s Lane and the Haunted Wood, yet it is placed in its own, imaginary context. The novels give the impression that it is quieter and more remote from the heart of Avonlea village than one would discover in real-life Cavendish. No map or path of travel around Green Gables will ever accurately satisfy the contradicting melange of directions and orientations described in the book. Can we say this leaves much scope for imagination?
[left] A Google Map of Hunter River to Cavendish [right] Map of the Region Surrounding Avonlea, by Paul Hendricks. See his detailed notes at The Geography and Chronology of Anne of Green Gables
Places to Visit
Green Gables Heritage Site Green Gables is based on the home of L. M. Montgomery’s cousins. This house is now a museum open to the public.
Haunted Wood The Haunted Wood has a real existence, beside the Green Gables house.
Lover’s Lane Lover’s Lane has a real existence, and is beside the Green Gables house.
Birch Path Not a real place, but you can see a photo of how L. M. Montgomery imagined it here.
Cavendish Schoolhouse Avonlea School is based on the Cavendish School, that Montgomery attended. It has been torn down, but the site is marked by a plaque. It is part of Green Gables National Park.
Lake of Shining Waters
Cavendish Pond The Cavendish Pond is not the Lake of Shining Waters, but Montgomery says that some of the effects of light and shadow she had seen on it may have unconsciously influenced her
Cavendish Cemetary the Avonlea Cemetary is based on the Cavendish Cemetary. L. M. Montgomery is buried here.
Site of Cavendish Town Hall The Avonlea Hall, where Anne attends a Debating Club concert for Diana’s birthday, and which the AVIS accidentally painted blue, is based on the Cavendish Hall. The hall has been torn down, but the site is marked by a monument.
Site of Pierce MacNeill’s House (Lynde’s Hollow) Lynde’s Hollow is based on “Pierce’s Hollow,” where L. M. Montgomery’s relatives lived. The Green Gables National Park Information Centre is now located on this site.
Hunter River Bright River Station is based on Hunter River Station, where Montgomery took the train to go to Charlottetown. The station has been torn down, and the former railroad tracks have been converted into the “Confederation Trail”, a cross-province hiking and cycling trail.
Kensington Railyards and Welcome Centre Kensington Station, where Montgomery also took the train, is another candidate for Bright River. Kensington Station still stands and is a museum dedicated to PEI’s railroad history, and has exhibits/events related to Anne of Green Gables.
North Rustico White Sands is North Rustico, and the Shore Road is a drive in the Green Gables National Park between Cavendish and North Rustico
Birthplace of L. M. Montgomery Anne’s birthplace is based on L. M. Montgomery’s own birthplace in Clifton/New London. The village of Clifton/New London is also the original for “Carmody”
Bideford Parsonage Museum L. M. Montgomery taught school in Bideford, and the “liniment cake” incident occurred here