For a gal who has been in the public eye since 1908, Anne Shirley is certainly getting a lot of attention lately. If it isn’t legendary singer, Aretha Franklin, asking for her address, it’s Canadian readers who just recently voted her as “Canada’s most iconic character” after a four-week online poll on CBC.ca. While Anne’s story is obviously well known, readers may be surprised to learn how much more there is to the story. L.M. Montgomery and her iconic redhead have connections to more than you think.
2014, the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown conference, also marks the 100th year since the start of the First World War, a war that was the inspiration for one of the most unique works in Montgomery’s writing career. Rilla of Ingleside was the final book in the original series about Anne Shirley, and unlike the others, it was written with a very specific purpose—to shed light on the way of life in Canada during the First World War, with details taken straight from Montgomery’s own wartime experiences. It is an intriguing and revealing work about Canada’s history that has never garnered the level of attention it deserves.
An upcoming conference looks to change this and to open up discussions about war, conflict, the Canadian Home Front, gender roles, and more. “L.M. Montgomery and War,” the 11th biennial conference of the L.M. Montgomery Institute of UPEI is set for June 25–29, and all are invited to join in the conversation. Keynote speakers include distinguished historian Jonathan Vance; Montgomery scholar, LMMI founder, and former UPEI President Elizabeth Epperly; and Canada Research Chair Irene Gammel. In addition to the full conference program, there will be a public exhibition at the Confederation Centre Public Library entitled “The Canadian Home Front: L.M. Montgomery’s Reflections on The First World War,” curated by Dr. Laura Robinson of the Royal Military College; a fantastic one-woman play, “Maud of Leaskdale” at the Carrefour Theatre; and much, much more.
“This is truly a conference with something for everyone. Those interested in Canadian history, war history, and women’s history will have tons of topics to choose from, but it goes deeper than that,” says conference coordinator, Elizabeth DeBlois.“The Great War is a part of the family experiences of almost all of us. Montgomery has given us a look at a chapter in our common past that has been somewhat forgotten.”
The conference is connected to many other events this year. The 50th season for “Anne of Green Gables – The Musical” is being celebrated and Elizabeth Epperly is curating an exhibition for the Confederation Centre of the Arts, entitled “This Anne Place: Anne of Green Gables as Idea, Book and Musical.” The LMMI is also inviting those with stories and/or collectibles related to Montgomery and/or the Canadian Home Front and the First World War to share them at a special digitization session offered in conjunction with the Public Library exhibition on Saturday, June 28. Collected stories and items will be made part of an online digital archive.
For more information on the conference or to register, go to the LMMI’s website http://www.lmmontgomery.ca or contact conference coordinator, Elizabeth Deblois at firstname.lastname@example.org