* The Geography of Pat of Silver Bush
Uncle John Campbell’s House, photo by L. M. Montgomery c.1900
Silver Bush is based on the real home of Montgomery’s Campbell cousins at Park Corner, now the Anne of Green Gables Museum at Silver Bush.
Silver Bush earns its name from a grove of silver birches surrounding the house. It is adjoined by Swallowfield on one side, while a brook divides it from the “Old Adams Place” where Pat’s friend Jingle lives. In Mistress Pat, Pat’s family purchases the Old Adams Place to augment to their farmland.
There is a detailed description of the farm in chapter 2 of Pat of Silver Bush, “Introduces Silver Bush,” evoking Pat’s love for all the delightful farm fields and features rather than provide a clear map of her surroundings. Nevertheless, we learn that the distinct features of Silver Bush farm are:
Field of the Pool
“which had in its very centre a dimple of water, as if some giantess when earth was young had pressed the tip of her finger down into the soft ground: it was framed all summer in daisies and blue flags and she and Sid bathed their hot tired little feet there on sultry days.” (PoSB ch. 2)
Mince Pie field
“a triangle of land running up into the spruce bush” (PoSB ch. 2)
“where all the buttercups in the world bloomed” (PoSB ch. 2)
Field of Farewell Summers
“which in September would be dotted all over with clumps of purple asters” (PoSB ch. 2)
Hill of the Mist
“to the east, a little higher than the hill of the silver bush” (PoSB ch. 2)
“most extraordinary orchard with spruce trees and apple trees delightfully mixed up together . . . in the Old Part, at least. The New Part was trim and cultivated and not half so interesting. In the Old Part were trees that Great-grandfather Gardiner had planted and trees that had never been planted at all but just grew, with delightful little paths criss-crossing all over it. At the far end was a corner full of young spruces with a tiny sunny glade in the midst of them, where several beloved cats lay buried” (PoSB ch. 2)
“At one side of the orchard” (PoSB ch. 2)
The Church Barn
“such an odd little barn with gables and a tower and oriel windows like a church. Which was exactly what it was. When the new Presbyterian church had been built in South Glen Grandfather Gardiner had bought the old one and hauled it home for a barn.” (PoSB ch. 2)
between the barns, leading to Uncle Tom’s house, “Swallowfield.”
[left] Frede under trees, photo by L. M. Montgomery 1890
It is not explicitly stated in the published journals that Montgomery based Silver Bush on Park Corner, although LMM mentions the fondness her cousin Frede had for her home in relation to Pat (Aug. 1, 1933), and there is a photograph captioned “Frede under trees [at Silver Bush] (SJv4, pg. 252). The sign at the Silver Bush museum states that LMM called it Silver Bush, and refers to family correspondence
The fictional Silver Bush does not bear exactly the same features as the Park Corner landscape. The Park Corner house overlooks Campbell’s Pond (the Lake of Shining Waters). It has a “magnificent grove of maple and beech” on the hill behind it, and farm fields beyond. The house itself is “smothered in orchards” and there is a family cemetary on the banks of Campbell’s Pond (according to The Alpine Path), which runs into a small stream behind the farm.
I rather think it is the atmosphere of a merry family life, that she associated dearly with her memories of Park Corner, that she transcribed into Pat of Silver Bush.
“Uncle John Campbell’s house was a big white one, smothered in orchards. Here, in other days, there was a trio of merry cousins to rush out and drag me in with greeting and laughter. The very walls of that house must have been permeated by the essence of good times. And there was a famous old pantry, always stored with goodies, into which it was our habit to crowd at bedtime and devour unholy snacks with sounds of riot and mirth.” - the Alpine Path
Additionally, the Secret Field, Jordan, Happiness, the Haunted Spring and perhaps the Whispering Lane are all inspired by locations in Cavendish. The Secret Field and Jordan were particularly inspired by a ramble at Gartmore Farm in Cavendish, shortly before Montgomery wrote Pat.
The Secret Field
the Secret Field away at the back, which you couldn’t see at all and would never suspect was there until you had gone through the woods, as she and Sid had daringly done one day, and come upon it suddenly, completely surrounded by maple and fir woods, basking in a pool of sunshine, scented by the breath of the spice ferns that grew in golden clumps around it. Its feathery bent grasses were starred with the red of wild strawberry leaves; and there were some piles of large stones here and there, with bracken growing in their crevices and clusters of long-stemmed strawberries all around their bases…
They loved the Secret Field better than all the other fields. It seemed somehow to belong to them as if they had been the first to discover it; it was so different from the poor, bleak, little stony field behind the barn that nobody loved . . . nobody except Pat. She loved it because it was a Silver Bush field. That was enough for Pat.
In the corner by which they entered were two dear little spruces, one just a hand’s-breadth taller than the other . . . brother and sister, just like Sidney and her. Wood Queen and Fern Princess, they had named them instantly. Or rather Pat did. She loved to name things. It made them just like people . . . people you loved. (PoSB, ch.2)
The Secret Field had a real existence. Pat of Silver Bush is dedicated to “Alec and May and the Secret Field.” LMM’s cousin, Alec Macneill, showed her his secret field when she was a guest at his house, Gartmore Farm in Cavendish:
Sunday, Nov. 13, 1932
Three years ago, when May and I spent that afternoon back in the woods we hunted for it - Alec had told us of it - but, though we found many lovely fields and corners, we could not find it. So this time Alec went with us to show us where it was. We took the car back through his fields to the wood line. Just before the wood-path swallowed us up - those wood-paths, with their pockets of sunshine here and there, are so full of magic I am never quite sure of coming back to the world again, once I trust myself to them - we turned to look at the gulf - the one thing in Cavendish that has not changed - far down below the fields, its unfenced acres darkly, gorgeously blue. Ontario lakes don’t know what real blue-ness is.
Then we plunged into the woods - which as ever was full of secrets they were always on the point of whispering to us but never quite did - and Alec piloted us to the Secret Field.
I never saw anything like it. It possessed me at once and forever. I shall always belong to it.
It is a small field of about two acres, long and narrow. It seems that a Maclure family in Rustico began to clear a field in the woods back of their farm on what they supposed was their land. A new survey was run and it was discovered to be on Alec’s land. As Alec had already more cleared land than he could handle he did nothing with the field and it is grown over with feathery bents. And it is totally surrounded with woods, without one solitary break in them - this was its unique charm. Spruce and maple, birch and beech in a thick unbroken wall all around it. What a place for fairy revels!
I stood there and saw it in early spring when the trees were all shades of living green - I saw those dream-like moonlit trees on a summer night and caught my breath at the vision - I saw it in the splendor of autumn - I saw it after a winter snowfall in a winter twilight. And I loved it terribly - so terribly that I’ve been dying of homesickness for it ever since. I see it as I write, dark and still and full of secret wisdom, encircled by its firs and leafless maples, with my own old stars shining down on it.
It won’t live long. Already its bents are feathered with tiny spruces and in a few years the woods will have taken it back.
But I have seen it and it is mine forever.
The Wood Queen and Fern Princess which are at the entrance of Pat’s secret field were not at the “real” secret field. LMM and May Macneil discovered them on another ramble around Gartmore Farm.
Wednesday, Oct. 2, 1929
“We went up the old brook valley where Pensie and I used to go for the cows on summer evenings of long ago… We found a most exquisite little nook, shut all around with trees and full of frosted golden fern in which two darling spruce trees grew, as shapely and perfect as only spruces sheltered from all rough winds can grow. We adopted them at once as our own particular trees, named them “Wood Queen” and “fern Princess” and decided to tell Alec that never must those trees be cut down.”
Here is Gartmore Farm, however, as Montgomery noted, the Secret Field would long have been reforested.
Gartmore Farm, photo by L. M. Montgomery, Selected Journals v.4
Cow Field on Gartmore Farm, photo by L. M. Montgomery (http://images.ourontario.ca/uoguelph/details.asp?ID=26685))
Jordan, Happiness and the Haunted Spring
“the brook that ran between Silver Bush and the old Adams place for a field’s length and then branched across Adams territory.” (PoSB ch. 11)
“They followed Jordan to its source at the very back of the old Adams place by fields that seemed made of sunshine and silence, over fences guarded by gay companies of golden-rod, through woods dappled with shadows, along little twisted paths that never did what you expected them to do. There was no end of lovely kinks and tiny cascades in the brook and the mosses on its banks were emerald and gold.
“In the end they found a beauty spot . . . a deep, still, woodland pool out of which the brook flowed, fed by a diamond trickle of water over the stones of a little hill. Around it grew lichened spruces and whispering maples, with little “cradle hills” under them; and just beyond a breezy slope with a few mossy, grass-grown sticks scattered here and there, and a bluebird perched on the point of a picket. It was all so lovely that it hurt. Why, Pat wondered, did lovely things so often hurt?” (PoSB ch. 11)
Pat and Jingle’s discovery of Happiness sound a little like LMM and May Macneil’s ramble along the brook valley.
The Red Brook Valley [at Gartmore Farm], photo by L. M. Montgomery 1929
In her childhood, LMM learned the poem “The Haunted Spring” and dramatized it to be a spring near the school woods(July 11,1931). This spring is likely no longer extant, but the “school woods” are now part of the Haunted Wood trail at Green Gables National Park.
The Whispering Lane
Whispering Lane, photo by L. M. Montgomery 1936
This photo, labelled “Whispering Lane”, accompanies many photos of Montgomery’s beloved haunts in Cavendish on her journal entry of Oct. 15, 1936. However, there is no reason to suppose the “Whispering Lane” is anything but fiction, and given Montgomery’s love of the woods she could have drawn on any memory of beloved woodland lanes.
North Glen, South Glen, Bay Shore, Silverbridge
Silver Bush, as well as the Long Lonely House - “an old white house among thick firs on the top of a hill to the south-west, two farms away from Silver Bush. It was a long, rather low house…” (PoSB ch. 2) - where Pat’s friend Bets Wilcox lives, are located in North Glen. The Old Adams Place belongs to South Glen. The nearest village is Silverbridge, where Aunt Hazel lives and from which Pat could “see the harbour from one window and Silver Bush from another. ” (PoSB ch. 21) The Bay Shore also lies on the harbour, and “old grey house fronting the sunset, so close to the purring waves that in storms their spray dashed over its very doorstep” (PoSB ch. 9) while Winnie’s new home is a “big white house with its background of sapphire water, where there was a coloured, fir-scented garden, full of wind music and bee song, that dipped in terraces to the harbour shore and was always filled with the sound of “perilous seas forlorn.” (PoSB ch. 38)
Silver Bush is in Park Corner, and the harbour is nearby New London Harbour. New London, the closest village fronting New London Harbour, is a good candidate for Silverbridge, although Montgomery masks its location by saying that it lies on the border of Prince County. (PoSB ch. 21)
Places to Visit
Anne of Green Gables Museum at Silver Bush
New London, where the Birthplace of L. M. Montgomery is located
French River, including the Cape Tryon and French River Lighthouses where you can access the shore