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Category: Essay

L.M. Montgomery: “I Have Come Home”

I am pleased to present, on the 140th anniversary of L.M. Montgomery’s birth, the full text of a long-lost essay by Montgomery that appeared in The Family Herald and Weekly Star in June 1936, with a cropped version of this photograph of Montgomery dated around 1929. The essay was used as the basis for a chapter on Prince Edward Island that Montgomery contributed to The Spirit of Canada (1939), published by the Canadian Pacific Railway as a souvenir album that would be presented to the King and Queen of England during their royal visit to Canada in May 1939; that version is included in Volume 1 of The L.M. Montgomery Reader.

There is at least one spot left on earth where a little leisure is to be found . . . and that is in Prince Edward Island. People there have not yet forgotten how to live. They don’t tear through life. Every time I . . . accustomed to the breathless tempo of existence elsewhere . . . go back to it I am impressed by this fact.

There is about life in “Abegweit” a certain innate and underlying serenity that is never wholly absent, even on days when a church “tea” is in the offing or the hay on the hill field must be got in before it rains. They realize that eternity exists . . . no. We realize it. For I am one of “the Islanders” still, though I have made my home in another land for a quarter of a century. We know that “he who believeth shall not make haste” . . . shall not run hither and yon aimlessly chasing the will-o’-wisps of ambition and fortune and power. We are all born knowing that “our own will come to us” . . . we have only to wait.

It is a great thing for a land to have this birthright . . . this background . . . this unfailing “oneness” with the great Eternal Spirit of beauty and reality and peace. Peace! You never know what peace is until you walk on the shores or in the fields of Prince Edward Island on a summer twilight when the dew is falling and the old old stars are peeping out and the sea keeps its nightly tryst with the little land it loves. You find your soul then . . . you realize that youth is not a vanished thing but something that dwells forever in the heart. And you look around on the dimming landscape of haunted hill and murmuring ocean, of homestead lights and old fields tilled by dead and gone generations who loved them . . . and you say, “I have come home!”

Remembrance Day Blogs: Rilla and Walter

In honour of Remembrance Day, two recent blog entries have appeared discussing L.M. Montgomery’s depiction of the Great War in Rilla of Ingleside and The Blythes Are Quoted. First, Christine Chettle discusses Walter Blythe’s poems “The Piper” and “The Aftermath” on the website for the Centre for Canadian Studies at the University of Leeds:

Most famous for her tale of cheerful red-headed orphan Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery offers a more complicated view of the Canadian war experience. Like many of her contemporaries, the fiercely patriotic Montgomery viewed World War I as a struggle for liberty against a threat of evil from Kaiser’s Germany.

Next, Melanie Fishbane talks about Montgomery’s experience during the war in her fiction and her life writing on the Indigo website:

It is hard for us to imagine that one hundred years ago, the boys we grew up with, the men we may have worked with and our brothers, husbands and partners would have joined in the wake of that strong call to arms in the belief that Canada, as an English colony, was in real danger.  It is also hard to imagine, that many of those same men never came home.  If we consider Montgomery’s fictional world of Ingleside, as a representation of the different townships across Canada, than I think we will begin to understand the magnitude WWI (and subsequent wars) had on our nation’s history.