L.M. Montgomery in Nova Scotia

Anne of the IslandL.M. Montgomery studied English literature at Dalhousie University for one year, 1895-96, and then in 1901-2 she lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia again when she worked for the newspaper The Daily Echo. She mentions Halifax and its landmarks, especially beautiful Point Pleasant Park, many times in her journals, and she fictionalized the city as Kingsport, Nova Scotia, and Dalhousie as Redmond College when she wrote Anne of the Island, the third novel in the “Anne” series.

I first read Montgomery’s novels when I was a child living in Halifax, but I wasn’t very aware of the Nova Scotia connections. It wasn’t obvious to me at the time that the unnamed “park” in Anne of the Island was inspired by Point Pleasant, a place that was very familiar to me. And while my father taught English literature at Dalhousie, I hadn’t yet read Montgomery’s journal entries about Dalhousie, I didn’t make the connection between Redmond and Dalhousie, and I didn’t know that when I grew up I would study English literature at Dalhousie myself. (I wrote a Ph.D. dissertation on Jane Austen and the classical and theological virtues – and an M.A. thesis on medieval marriage poetry.)

A few years ago I moved back home to Halifax to write full time, and I’ve been rediscovering the story of L.M. Montgomery in Nova Scotia. I’m fascinated by the way Montgomery writes about Halifax and Dalhousie – both places have the power to inspire her, but at the same time she experienced some very low moments when she lived here.

Here are the blog posts I’ve written about L.M. Montgomery and Nova Scotia:

L.M. Montgomery’s Halifax: A Literary Soirée, June 18th

Welsford-Parker MonumentPoint Pleasant Park as a Cure for Homesickness

Anne of Green Gables in Kingsport/Halifax

Anne of Green Gables and the Old Burying Ground, Halifax

Attending Redmond College with Anne Shirley

Anne Shirley’s Ambitions

L.M. Montgomery and the Halifax Public Gardens

A series of three posts on Anne of Green Gables and Point Pleasant Park:

Pavilion at Point Pleasant ParkAnne of Green Gables Loves Point Pleasant Park

“Gilbert Would Never Compose a Sonnet to My Eyes”

A “blinding flash of illumination”

Other posts on L.M. Montgomery:

Orchard House“A world where it is always June”

L.M. Montgomery at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts

L.M. Montgomery’s Literary Pilgrimage to Concord, Mass.

L.M. Montgomery, Edith Wharton, and Education

Graves Island pathA Passion for Dead Leaves: Jane Austen and the Penderwicks (“Oh, Marilla, I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it?”)

The Secret Diary of L.M. Montgomery and Nora Lefurgey

Anne and Gilbert After the Happy Ending

Stanhope BeachBirthday “Coincidences” in Emma and Anne of Green Gables (“Diana’s birthday is in February and mine is in March. Don’t you think that is a very strange coincidence?”)

“It’s good to be alive and to be going home”

Anne’s House of Dreams and the “great Canadian novel”

October at Ingleside

Spring in Rainbow Valley

Emily of New MoonThe 2017 Emily Readalong, hosted by Naomi of Consumed by Ink:

January: Rereading L.M. Montgomery’s “Emily” Novels

February: “I am important to myself”: Emily of New Moon

March: “I have to write”: Emily Climbs

"She knew that a hard struggle was before her": Emily's QuestApril: “She knew that a hard struggle was before her”: Emily’s Quest

In July of 2017, I visited some of the Montgomery-related sites in Halifax with Melanie J. Fishbane, author of Maud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery. You can see photos from that tour in Melanie’s guest post “Searching for Maud in the ‘Emily’ Series.”

November 2017: A Readalong for The Blue Castle, hosted by Naomi MacKinnon and me: please see “An Invitation to Read The Blue Castle, by L.M. Montgomery”and “‘Going in for realities’ in L.M. Montgomery’s The Blue Castle.”

In addition to Anne of the Island, here are some of the books and essays I’ve been reading in my exploration of L.M. Montgomery’s Nova Scotia connection.

The Complete Journals of L.M. Montgomery: The PEI Years, 1889-1900, edited by Mary Henley Rubio and Elizabeth Hillman Waterston (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).

The Complete Journals of L.M. Montgomery: The PEI Years, 1901-1911The Complete Journals of L.M. Montgomery: The PEI Years, 1901-1911, edited by Mary Henley Rubio and Elizabeth Hillman Waterston (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).

The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery: Volume I: 1889-1910, edited by Mary Rubio and Elizabeth Waterston (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985).

The Lucy Maud Montgomery Album, compiled by Kevin McCabe, edited by Alexandra Heilbron (Toronto, ON: Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 1998). Includes sections on “Dalhousie University, 1895-96,” by Kevin McCabe and on “Halifax Days” by Carol Dobson.

Imagining Anne: The Island Scrapbooks of L.M. Montgomery, by Elizabeth Rollins Epperly (Toronto, ON: Penguin, 2008).

Imagining Anne“L.M. Montgomery’s Halifax: The Real Life Inspiration for Anne of the Island,” by Sue Lange, The Shining Scroll (December 2011, Part 2).

“The Dalhousie Girls,” by Christy Woster, The Shining Scroll (December 2011, Part 2).

If you have suggestions about further reading on LMM in NS, please share in the comments below!

24 thoughts on “L.M. Montgomery in Nova Scotia”

  1. Oh this shall be some fun exploring! Thank you for putting this together.


  2. I just finished re-reading Anne of the Island this month, and had the same experience as you. I loved feeling the connections to Halifax and the park this time around. I’m looking forward to reading some of your other posts about this!

    I also want to say here, since there didn’t seem to be a place to comment on the actual post about it, that I think the Bookmark Canada Project is wonderful. I can’t believe I didn’t know about it, but now that I do, I will be keeping close tabs. Thanks for writing about it!


    • Thanks, Naomi — it’s great to meet you here, and I’m looking forward to reading more on your blog as well. I’m so excited that Nova Scotia is about to get its first Bookmark plaque from Project Bookmark Canada. I do hope there will be many more for our province in the future. (Maybe an Anne of the Island Bookmark in Point Pleasant??) And I would love to do a cross-Canada road trip someday to visit other Bookmarks.


  3. I’ve been reading all your LM Montgomery posts with great glee… Question… Have you come across any indication of what city Bolingbrook is based on? Thanks!


    • Thanks for reading! I’m happy to hear that you’ve enjoyed these posts. In The Annotated Anne of Green Gables, Margaret Anne Doody suggests that the name of Anne’s birthplace alludes to the first Viscount Bolingbroke, Henry St. John, and that “The name presumably comes by process of analogy from the nominal connection between Oxford, Nova Scotia, and Robert Harley, first Earl of Oxford (1661-1724), Bolingbroke’s close associate in Queen Anne’s Tory administration.”


      • Sarah, you know everything! Thank you! So would that imply that Bolingbroke “maps against” Oxford NS? I always imagined it was Anapolis Royal, but with nothing to rely on.

        (I was in PEI and rereading some of the Anne books for the millionth time; I also love Rilla the best but went back to Windy Poplars to see if it was as “nothing” as I remembered — I hadn’t realized the publication order until I read your blogs, and it all makes sense now).


        • Oh, that’s interesting that you thought of Annapolis Royal. I hadn’t thought much about that question before, though I’ve always found it interesting that Anne, who’s so closely associated with PEI, is actually from Nova Scotia and is therefore a “Come-from-Away” on the Island. I wonder if anyone else has written about “Bolingbroke” and Oxford, NS. Do let me know if you come across anything. How lovely that you had a chance to revisit PEI and reread the Anne books!


  4. These are fantastic, Sarah! I would love to feature some of these in the #AnneReadAlong2017. I consider you a bit of an expert on Montgomery based on these posts 🙂


    • That’s very kind of you, Jane! I’m delighted to hear that you’re enjoying these posts. It’s going to be fun to read what others have to say about Anne of Green Gables and the sequels. (Maybe Naomi and I can try to persuade you to join The Blue Castle readalong in the fall….)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love reading your articles! Thank you so much for sharing. It just gives me shivers to see the real photos and hear of the real-life places that inspired this writer.

    I am writing a blog post about New Year’s in literature. In the story “Ida’s New Year Cake,” which is basically set in a college dorm room, the main character takes pity on another girl who shares her name (Lucy Maud Montgomery Short Stories 1905-1906). I thought it would be interesting to discover if perhaps there was another Maud or Lucy attending Dalhousie at the same time as LMM. Of course, it might not be autobiographical, but it seems LMM at least shared the feelings of her characters who are unable to go home for the holidays (according to her journals, she stayed at college during the break).


    • That’s an interesting question and I don’t know the answer. Have you looked at Montgomery’s journal entries from that period?

      On the topic of literature about the New Year — do you know Edith Wharton’s short story “New Year’s Day”? The first line is “She was bad … always,” which I think is a great beginning.

      It’s lovely to hear that you enjoyed reading what I wrote about Montgomery and Nova Scotia. Thanks so much for visiting, and Happy New Year!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Shelley M Johnston said:

    Lucy lived in the old Stoddard house on the corner of Barrington and Bishop streets.while going to college..just read that today..


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