'Anne of Green Gables' boosts Canadian island

A fictional red-headed orphan, whose adventures were penned a century ago, is proving a tourist boon to a corner of Canada, even drawing the attentions of Prince William's new bride, Catherine.

"Anne of Green Gables", the Canadian novel by author Lucy Maud Montgomery, has sold more than 50 million copies worldwide since it was published in 1908.

Over the years, the heroine Anne has been brought to life in musicals, museums and street theater on eastern Prince Edward Island, which provides the backdrop for the adventures of the young chatterbox, whose lively imagination gets her into all kinds of trouble.

Montgomery is said to have drawn on her childhood experiences in the smallest of the Canadian provinces to describe Anne's life after she is adopted from an orphanage in Nova Scotia to help on a Prince Edward farm.

Now, the sites mentioned in the book about the girl with red braided pigtails have become a major tourist draw, pumping millions of dollars into the island's struggling economy.

"Many people think she was a real person," said Chantelle Macdonald, who once played Anne in shows on the island. "It's difficult to tell them this person did not really exist. They sometimes confuse Anne with the author."

The most famous recent visitor was Britain's Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine, who is reportedly a big fan. She visited the island with her husband Prince William in July as part of their hugely successful tour of Canada.

One in four visitors to Prince Edward Island takes in at least one Anne attraction, such as the recreated fictional town of Avonlea, the site of Montgomery's childhood home or the Anne of Green Gables gift shop on the main street of the provincial capital Charlottetown.

After farming and fishing, tourism is the island's third-largest industry and Anne-related spending accounted for nearly one-third of the island's $370 million in tourism revenue in 2010 - up dramatically from years past.

- Japanese "Anne" fan clubs -

Anne is so popular worldwide that staff at the Cavendish National Historic Site - which includes Montgomery's cousin's farmhouse that inspired Green Gables and landscapes familiar to her readers such as the Haunted Wood Trail and Lovers' Lane - have a hard time convincing visitors she is a fictional character.

The book and its sequels have been translated into some 40 languages.

And in Japan, where "Anne of Green Gables" has been on the school curriculum since 1952, the heroine is widely adored. There are Japanese "Anne" fan clubs, an "Anne" academy and even a nursing school named after her.

Japanese are the third largest contingent of visitors here, after Canadians and Americans, and some even travel to PEI to get married at Green Gables.

Macdonald suggests their enthusiasm for all things Anne may have helped propel her popularity elsewhere.

"In Italy, only five of the books were translated. But in the 1980s, everyone watched the Japanese animated version of 'Anne of Green Gables' on television," said Rosanna Gatti, who was visiting from Italy with her family.

Indeed, Anne was cast in several television series and movies, including "Road to Avonlea" in the 1990s.

People are drawn to the young heroine Anne Shirley because of her youthfulness, her determination, her independence, and her imagination, Macdonald commented.

Prince Edward Island still echoes the charms of early 20th century Canada depicted in the books when villagers traveled in horse-drawn carts, wrote long letters, wore long dresses, and where a cow running amok in the garden accounted for action.

But the ultimate confirmation of her universal appeal came from Sarah Khan, a young Muslim woman visiting the site with two friends, all three sporting hijabs.

"Sometimes people in the street ask, 'Are you forced to wear (a veil)? Why do you wear it?' I say, no, it is my decision and then I feel like Anne: she was coming from outside and had problems to be accepted too," Khan said.

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living