L.M. Montgomery lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, when she was a student at Dalhousie University in 1895-96 and then when she worked as a journalist at the Halifax Daily Echo in 1901-1902. I’m helping organize an event in Halifax on June 18, 2018:
L.M. Montgomery’s Halifax: A Literary Soirée, in support of Project Bookmark Canada
Women’s Council House, 989 Young Avenue, Halifax, NS, 7pm
Download an invitation here.
All are welcome, and the suggested donation is $20. Our Halifax Reading Circle for Project Bookmark is celebrating the first three Bookmarks in the Maritimes, for No Great Mischief, by Alistair MacLeod (2015), Barometer Rising, by Hugh MacLennan (2017), and “The Gable Window,” by L.M. Montgomery. The Montgomery Bookmark plaque will be unveiled in Cavendish, PEI on June 24th. We’re also keen to see more Bookmarks in the Maritimes, and we’ve been reading works by Rita Joe, Budge Wilson, George Elliott Clarke, and others, to find passages to recommend to Project Bookmark for consideration.
At our celebration on June 18th, Alexander MacLeod, Associate Professor of English at Saint Mary’s University, is going to talk about connections among the first three Bookmarks in the Maritimes. Kate Scarth, Chair of L.M. Montgomery Studies at the University of Prince Edward Island, will talk about Montgomery’s time as a student at Dalhousie University and as a journalist at the Daily Echo. Budge Wilson, author of Before Green Gables, and Mike Hamm of Bookmark II Halifax will read from L.M. Montgomery’s work, and I’ll read from her journals and talk about her love of Point Pleasant Park. Laurie Murphy, Executive Director of Project Bookmark, will describe the literary trail of Bookmark plaques across Canada. The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia is co-sponsoring the event with our Halifax Reading Circle, and Marilyn Smulders, Executive Director of the WFNS, will be our emcee. There will be live music, tea and squares, and raffles for Elly MacKay “Anne” prints, Tundra editions of the Anne novels, tickets to Anne of Green Gables, The Musical, and more.
Please join us on June 18th to celebrate L.M. Montgomery and writing set in the Maritimes! We’d love to know if you’re able to attend—here’s the link to the Facebook event, so you can let us know you’re coming.
If you’re not able to be there in person, but you’d like to donate to help build more Bookmarks in the Maritimes, you can make a donation on the Project Bookmark Canada website.
I’m excited about the event, and about future Bookmarks in our region and throughout Canada. Regular readers of my blog will know about my interest in travelling across Canada (I wrote about my road trip “From Halifax to Vancouver and Home Again” a couple of years ago, and about my pilgrimage to see the Carol Shields Bookmark in Winnipeg). I love the idea of a “literary Trans-Canada highway,” to borrow Kristen den Hartog’s phrase, and it’s been a pleasure to volunteer for Project Bookmark over the past few years.
For more information:
A Bookmark for Prince Edward Island: Lucy Maud Montgomery’s “The Gable Window,” at Project Bookmark
An article about the No Great Mischief Bookmark, which I wrote for the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia newsletter Eastword
My “L.M. Montgomery in Nova Scotia” page
Here are a few of the photos I took last week at the Old Burying Ground in Halifax, which Montgomery fictionalized as “Old St. John’s Cemetery” in Anne of the Island:
Kingsport (aka Halifax) “has other historic spots also, which may be hunted out by the curious, and none is more quaint and delightful than Old St. John’s Cemetery at the very core of the town…. ‘I’m going across to Old St. John’s after lunch,’ said Anne. ‘I don’t know that a graveyard is a very good place to go to get cheered up, but it seems the only get-at-able place where there are trees, and trees I must have. I’ll sit on one of those old slabs and shut my eyes and imagine I’m in the Avonlea woods.’ Anne did not do that, however, for she found enough of interest in Old St. John’s to keep her eyes wide open. They went in by the entrance gates, past the simple, massive, stone arch surmounted by the great lion of England.”
I find it fascinating to read about places in Halifax Montgomery disliked (there are many) and places she liked (a few, including the Public Gardens and Point Pleasant Park). For example: “Halifax is the grimiest city in Canada—I know it is!!” (March 16, 1902). We thought about using that line on the invitation for the literary soirée, but we settled on “Even Halifax is pretty now. The trees are respectably leafy and every grass plot is gay with dandelions” (June 2, 1902).