L.M. Montgomery and Cultural Memory: Day 1

Guest post by Vanessa Brown

Welcome Montgomery fans to my first blog for the L.M. Montgomery Research Group! Guess what? I’m here to tell you about my exciting day at the Montgomery Conference here in beautiful Prince Edward Island, and it really has been exciting.

This morning we found out about new plans from the L.M. Montgomery Institute to start a publication series, a app for your iPhone, and the digitization of Montgomery’s letters to Penzie MacNeill. How cool is that?

I’m selling books at the conference for Attic Books in London, Ontario, but like any good bookseller, I slept a little bit late. Still, there was plenty of interest at my booth despite my tardiness, and also at the booth for Gallery 18 who was only here for today. It was great to meet Aubrey Bell and talk a little shop before diving into the day’s intellectual fare with a cup of coffee and some pastries—the trademark nutrition of any academic gathering.

I sat in on Trinna Frever’s presentation on Recollection and Remembrance, as well as Katja Lee’s enthralling talk on Montgomery’s self-branding with particular focus on The Alpine Path. Maud’s focus on crafting her image for the public and for herself was apparent for both speakers and led to some riveting discussion. I also enjoyed the question period following presentations on predestination, “future memories” and the conflict of modernity in the Emily books, by quick witted Balaka Basu, the venerated Andrea Valenta and brilliant Laura Breitenbeck, respectively.

After some yummy refreshments, I dug my teeth into Melanie Fishbane’s multimedia presentation on sexy Gilbert Blythe—Oh, how I love you Jonathan Crombie!—and even played Diana in a dialogue highlighting his place in our cultural memory. Later topics included Walter Blythe and the World Wars (Gwen Gethner), liminal spaces in Anne’s House of Dreams (Poushali Bhadury) and Queen Victoria’s role in the Emily books (Holly Pike).

Sitting around all day works up an appetite, so we found ourselves at the Anne of Green Gables Chocolates in downtown Charlottetown, where I picked up some delicious Avonlea cheese. Yes, I’m an Anne fan, but I’m also a cheese fan and I would eat this yummy stuff if it was called by any other name. It’s twice the price in London, Ontario, so I consider this a score.

The evening was topped off by a glorious cocktail reception, hosted by the Heirs of L.M. Montgomery for the conference speakers. Kate Macdonald Butler and Sally Keefe Cohen throw a superb party, with delicious appetizers and a flowing bar—all at the Great George Hotel where Regis and Kelly stayed on their recent visit to the Island. Did you read that folks? Regis and Kelly! One of the bartenders told me that he was assigned to be their personal slave and assured me that Kelly is super tiny in real life, and so is Regis.

Actually, I was more impressed to find out that Anne Murray had stayed there, but it’s all subjective.

I left the party still hopping and expect my roommate to come in late and certainly not sober. That’s it for today! Tomorrow is my big talk, and I’m super nervous. I hope whoever is blogging tomorrow is kind.