Monday, December 3, 2012

L.M. Montgomery Out West

It was ten when we finally got away from the M.P. outpost. Sergeant Baker bade us goodbye in a tone which seemed to intimate that he never expected to see either of us again...Kate, however, was as blithe and buoyant as usual. She knew no fear, being one of those enviable folk who can because they think they can. One hundred and twenty miles of half-flooded prairie trail—camping out at night in the solitude of the Great Lone Land—rain—muskegs—Indian guides—nothing had any terror for my dauntless cousin.
The author who wrote Anne of Green Gables, and is so strongly associated with the eastern Canadian province of Prince Edward Island, is perhaps one of the last people you might associate with Westerns. But Lucy Maud Montgomery did spend a year in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan when she was sixteen, and evidently drew on what she observed there for a few of her short stories. Several of her short works mention people going west to work on ranches or settle on the Canadian prairies, and a few are actually set there—a romance set on a RCMP post, and a pair of Christmas stories about settlers' families, for instance. The one with the best frontier flavor, in my opinion, was "How We Went to the Wedding," in which two cousins set out across the flooded prairie by wagon to attend a friend's wedding, persevering in spite of bad weather, mud, accidents and more. (An English remittance-man even makes a brief appearance. )The full story can be read online here.

Those who have read Rilla of Ingleside, by the way, will recognize the part of this story that was transplanted into the novel to become the chapter "Mrs. Matilda Pitman"! Montgomery re-used bits and pieces of characters, descriptions and sometimes whole conversations from her short fiction in several of the Anne books, but this is one of the most complete transplants—even the character names are all the same.

image source


Emmy said...

Thanks for the link to the story! I haven't read very many of Mrs. Montgomery's short stories (outside of Chronicles of Avonlea), but I adored the Anne books. It really is quite surprising how she lifted that entire section and added it to Rilla of Ingleside. But then, it IS a good little tale.

Elisabeth Grace Foley said...

Glad you enjoyed it! I recently read through (and reviewed) Montgomery's complete short stories, and I still think the Anne books are the best too. The first two book and Rilla are my favorites.