National Treasure #22: Anne of Green Gables

She climbs the stairs from the tarmac, clutching a doll with red hair. Clearly, it’s too precious to trust to the vagaries of checked luggage. The man with her – her husband? – doesn’t even try to get her to put the doll in the overhead compartment. It’s travelling from Halifax to Ottawa on her lap.

Twenty years ago, these Japanese tourists were my first personal encounter with the reported Japanese love affair with Anne. The much reported love affair.

But that interest or obsession is only part of the Anne of Green Gables saga. There are worldwide sales of 50 million books in 20 languages, six books focusing on Anne Shirley and three more where she is a subsidiary character, TV and radio shows, movies, a stage musical, and a museum in PEI in a farmhouse owned by cousins of the author. Maybe you remember her: Lucy Maud Montgomery.

As a young girl, I read a few of the books and enjoyed them, but they didn’t mesmerize me. But what could be more Canadian than a small-town orphan with a feisty attitude as well as a penchant for apologizing when she goes too far?

And just in case you’re into collecting factoids, here are ten about Anne that you might not have known.

This is one of a series on Canadian national treasures – my sesquicentennial project. They reflect people (living and dead), places and things that I think are worth celebrating about our country, and are done in no order of precedence.


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4 Responses to National Treasure #22: Anne of Green Gables

  1. The first American girl who sallied up to me when I arrived in her 6th grade classroom ascertained quickly that I, too, had read Anne of Green Gables. She reckoned we must be “kindred spirits.” Sixty-five years of friendship were launched with that book.
    I do appreciate the link to the Lucy Maud factoids. From genealogical research into my husband’s family we determined that the dreaded suicidal depression some feared to inherit had been but mild depression turned suicidal by the prescription of opiates and, in one case, by lead poisoning from handling gasoline. We are grateful to know that even suicidal depression can be treated with music.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – What a delightful story – I wonder how many other friendships have been built around beloved books? More than a few, I expect. And what a delight, too, to know that our genes need not be our destiny.

  2. Mary Elford says:

    Isabel, I never realized what an inspiration Anne was. (and is) Thank you for finding and sharing the link to the little-known factoids!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Mary – Thanks! That’s been the best part of this for me – learning anew about things I thought I already knew.

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