It was a spur-of-the-moment decision. I had known about the Leaskdale Manse, former home of Lucy Maud Montgomery (who really needs no introduction!), for several years but had never made the 15-minute drive north of Uxbridge to visit.
But it was Saturday; the day was unplanned and my dad and I had gone into Uxbridge for a coffee. While wandering around Elgin Park, we stopped to look at a map of the local area and the idea hit me – let’s drive up to see the place where L. M. Montgomery lived. Of course, due to pandemic restrictions, we wouldn’t be able to go in and tour the place, but this was an opportunity to at least visit the area and finally see the manse.
So we headed blindly north, following Main Street/Concession Road 7. Almost immediately we were among the rolling hills and farmland of rural Ontario. The weather hadn’t been warm enough long enough for there to be much greenery or grass grown in, but the views were lovely nonetheless. We drove and drove…and checked with Google maps a couple times to make sure that we hadn’t driven right past it.
And we did drive right past it.
Leaskdale is a blink-and-you-miss-it sort of place, the manse even more so. Its non-descript yellowing brick exterior and shutter-less windows, brown shingled roof, and utilitarian white picket fence don’t exactly catch your eye as you drive by. And yet, there is something “Anne of Green Gables” about it.
Lucy Maud Montgomery moved into the Leaskdale Manse in 1911, shortly after marrying Ewan Macdonald, the minister of St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Leaskdale. Having published Anne of Green Gables three years earlier, she was already a household name and the community was excited to welcome her.
The manse itself did not seem to impress L.M. Montgomery. It was “not an ideal house by any means”. She disliked the “L design” which was common to country houses at the time; there was no toilet or bathroom inside. Over the course of the 15 years she lived there, however, she came to love the familiarity that it offered; it was a place to have her garden and to raise her children. It also became the place in which she wrote 11 of her 22 novels, as well as journals that were posthumously published and provide a fascinating insight into both the writer and her perspective of life in the 20th century.
I found the manse to be “plainer” than I was expecting, although it was early spring, so there wasn’t much in the ways of flowers and foliage to “pretty” the place up. The thick, lace curtains were all drawn so it was impossible to see inside, though photos I’ve seen show rooms decorated nicely and in historically appropriate style. In the backyard there was a broken pump and a rather dilapidated looking carriage shed. The house itself appeared to be in good condition; it would be interesting to attend one of the tea luncheons hosted by the Lucy Maud Montgomery Society during the summer months.
St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, located just up the road from the manse, is a small, simple building with beautiful stained glass windows. Although we were unable to get a tour of the inside, we did wander around the outside and took in the lovely landscaping (that was in bloom, anyway), architecture, and “Maud in the garden” (a bench with a life-sized figurine of L. M. Montgomery sitting on it).
Tours of both the house and nearby church are available during the summer; private tours and off-season tours can also be arranged. The manse is also the site of regular luncheons and teas for which tickets may be purchased from June through August.
Leaskdale Manse Information
Hours: June – Labour Day
7 Days a Week 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
All other times & off-season by appointment only
Cost: $7/person – Tour only (children under 12 free)
$15/person – Tour & Tea
Email: [email protected]
Amenities: Food & Beverage, Family-Friendly, Wheelchair Access (first floor), Washrooms, Parking, Guided Tours, National Historic Site
Upcoming Events: http://lucymaudmontgomery.ca/calendar-of-events/
– katrina elise