|An Artist's rendering of Maud in Leaskdale|
It was November by the time we rumbled through the greater Toronto area. We spent three nights in Oshawa on the east side of the city. I failed to realize until we were there that the museums and tourist sites were closed for the season. I don’t know what I was thinking. I assumed that because I wanted to see them and because of their proximity to a big city that they would still be open, although perhaps with limited hours. I had perused one website that said that the manse at Leaskdale would be open until Thanksgiving but I forgot that the Canadian Thanksgiving is earlier than ours—October 11 this year. But I swallowed my disappointment and thought that it was still nice to be there and we could drive around and view the countryside and the outside of the buildings where her life took place.
We spent the first of our two days in Uxbridge/Leaskdale, an hour’s drive due north of Oshawa. It was a nice sunny day, brisk, but tolerable for walking about outdoors. Uxbridge is a charming town (and also 'the trail capital of Canada') and we wandered about the outdoors of the Uxbridge-Scott Museum which houses a L.M. Montgomery exhibit but was closed. I bought a copy of Volume V:1935-1942 of The Selected Journals of the author at The Blue Heron Bookstore in town. We ran across both a gluten-free bakery and restaurant, both named Franke’s, and I was in heaven because I could once again enjoy the treats of bread and cake. We drove on to Leaskdale and easily found the Presbyterian Church. We pulled into the parking lot and as we were getting out of our car to take photos, a woman drove up. She looked at us as if expecting us but of course she could not have been. I hardly opened my mouth to say hello when she said, “Would you like me to show you the inside of the church and then take you over to the manse so you can see that too?” I was awestruck by our good fortune as this kind, friendly woman gave us an thorough tour of the church and manse. We learned that she is the president of The Lucy Maud Montgomery Society of Ontario. Both church and manse have been bought by the Society to make an exhibit of Montgomery’s life in Leaskdale. Their goal is to make the Leaskdale site one of scholarship and a deeper understanding of Montgomery’s influence on Canadian literature and the world and not so much a ‘Wonderland’ like that which is on Prince Edward Island.
In addition to learning more about LMM, we enjoyed the beauty of the rural rolling countryside. The farms scattered all over the area have the prettiest farmhouses and barns. Pastureland and fields of crops are broken up by stands of trees, pockets of forests, creeks, rivers and ponds and I was enchanted by it all.