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The Lady of Leaskdale

Nikita and Corey Johnston-Flanagan in front of the former home of Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery in Leaskdale, Ontario

Driving down a tranquil road in rural Leaskdale, Ontario, you will encounter a brick house with a white picket fence and dark green accents. Although it looks like any other house in the Canadian Township of Uxbridge, this was the home of beloved author Lucy Maud Montgomery.    

The late author is perhaps best-known for Anne of Green Gables, her fictional book series about an orphaned girl named Anne Shirley. Eleven of Montgomery’s novels were written in the humble house in Leaskdale.

I recently had the privilege of meeting with Melanie Whitfield and Corey Johnston-Flanagan from the Lucy Maud Montgomery Society of Ontario The organization, which is located in Montgomery’s former home, is committed to carrying on the author’s legacy.

Here is more about Montgomery and her work, along with highlights from my conversation with Whitfield and Johnston-Flanagan:

Who was Lucy Maud Montgomery?

Montgomery is one of the most widely read Canadian authors from the early 20th century. She is famous for such book series as Anne of Green Gables, Chronicles of Avonlea, and Emily of New Moon. 

Born in 1874, Montgomery grew up with her grandparents in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island. She used the island as the setting for nearly all of her books. After her marriage to Ewan MacDonald in 1911, a minister at St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, Montgomery moved to Leaskdale. It was here that she wrote 11 of her 22 books, and raised her two sons. 

How did her life influence her writings?  

Montgomery dealt with a lot of hardships. She lost her mother at a young age, had an unhappy marriage, lost her second child at birth, and suffered from depression. 

She coped with these challenges by immersing herself in nature and writing. “If she was having a hard time in her personal life,” Johnston-Flanagan said, “writing would be an escape for that. She could focus on her fictional worlds, and she could really get into it.”

What challenges did Montgomery face as an author?

“Being a woman would certainly be a hindrance in her times,” Johnston-Flanagan said. “Being an unpublished writer, even today, made it hard to be published.” 

Despite a lot of rejections, Montgomery kept faith in the fact that she would become an author someday. “She just had a drive,” Johnston-Flanagan said. “She knew that she had talent, and she wanted to go somewhere with that.”


Nikita talks with Melanie Whitfield, president of the Lucy Maud Montgomery Society of Ontario (left), and Corey Johnston-Flanagan. 

How did her writing affect society?

Montgomery has made huge contributions to Canadian literature. “There are many Canadian women writers who would tell you that their reading of Anne of Green Gables influenced their writing today,” Whitfield said.

An important part of Montgomery’s legacy was having a girl be the central character, as opposed to being portrayed as passive. Anne’s fiery independence and confidence, along with Emily’s aspirations to become a writer, affected many generations of women. 

Montgomery was also an active voice in the anti-war movement. For example, Rilla of Ingleside is the first book in North America written about World War I from the perspective of the home front. “It was a big deal for people to be able to see their own experiences reflected,” said Johnston-Flanagan.


Seeing the house where Montgomery lived, the church where she spent a lot of her time, the many pictures she took, and entries from her journal, helped me imagine what the author might be thinking when she lived in Leaskdale. Montgomery continues to be an inspiration who shows that it’s possible to become anything you want to be if you work hard and persevere. 



Photos courtesy of the author