In the summer of 2010, I visited Cavendish for the second time. Once again, Lucy Maud Montgomery’s home was on the list to visit. The magic of this place and the foot path to the Cavendish Cemetery, where this famous Canadian writer is buried, remains.
Maud, as she was often called, was born November 30, 1874 at Clifton (now New London), Prince Edward Island. When she was twenty-one months old, her mother, the former Clara Woolner MacNeill, died of tuberculosis (September 14, 1876, age 23). Her father, Hugh John Montgomery, gave the young girl to his wife’s parents, Lucy Ann Woolner and Alexander Marquis MacNeill, to raise. They lived in the nearby community of Cavendish.
Hugh Montgomery moved to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan when Maud was seven years old. He married Mary Ann McRae and together it appears from the 1911 Census, they had one son, Cuthbert, born October 1893. Maud spent one school year with her father out west, but returned to her beloved island to finish her education.
When her grandfather, Alexander, died March 5, 1898 at the age of 78, Maud moved in with and tended to her grandmother, Lucy. The 1901 Canada Census for Queen’s County, PEI revealed Mrs. Alexander McNeill, age 76, as the head of the household. The widow was born August 29, 1824 in England. She had arrived in Canada in 1836. The only other occupant in the house was her granddaughter, Maud Montgomery, age 26. It states she was born November 30, 1874 and was single and Scotch.
Lucy MacNeill died March 10, 1911 at the age of 87, only months before the 1911 Census was taken. That spring’s census revealed Maud Montgomery, age 35, still single and living in Queen’s County, PEI. The date recorded for her birthday was November 1775. It’s interesting to note that as her main occupation, the census taker entered ‘writing’ but it was then crossed out. Maud apparently worked 60 hours a week at this occupation.
The head of the household was Mary Montgomery, aged 48, born May 1860. Mary appears to be the widow of Maud’s father, Hugh, because Maud is recorded as her daughter. Also in the household is Mary’s son, Cuthbert Montgomery, age 18. He was born October 1893 and was single. Both Cuthbert and his mother recorded their occupation as farmer.
Maud married Ewen (Ewan) MacDonald and moved to Leaskdale, Ontario. She and Ewen raised two children, Chester and Stuart.
Maud died April 24, 1942, at Toronto, Ontario, at the age of 67, and was returned to her beloved island where she was buried in the Cavendish Cemetery.
Many around the world know Maud as the creator of Anne of Green Gables, but she was a prolific writer and had created many characters. In her lifetime twenty novels and more than 500 short stories were published. Through her writing, the spirit of life on the island and that of childhood lives on for each generation to discover.