Canada Post's new Anne Shirley stamp is based on a painting by Ben Stahl. ((Canada Post))

Canada Post has unveiled a pair of stamps to mark the 100th anniversary of Anne of Green Gables, as thousands of fans continue to descend on P.E.I. to celebrate L.M. Montgomery's beloved red-headed heroine.

This year, Canada Post will issue six million of the anniversary stamps, spokeswoman Genevieve Latour told CBC News just before the launch ceremony Friday.

The stamps are based on a painting of Anne by Ben Stahl and another of the Green Gables house — a national historic site — by Christopher Kovacs.

Latour added that, for the first time, Canada Post has created a fictional cancellation mark to denote "Avonlea, P.E.I." The Royal Canadian Mint has also struck a full-colour quarter to commemorate the anniversary.

Japanese stamps based on animated Anne

In Japan, where Montgomery's heroine was introduced by Canadian missionary Loretta Shaw in the 1930s, the post office has also unveiled a collection of stamps based on images from an animated, 1970s-era retelling of Anne of Green Gables.


The stamp depicting Green Gables is based on a work by Christopher Kovacs. Now a national historic site, Green Gables draws scores of visitors from Japan each year. ((Canada Post))

After being included in the Japanese school curriculum in 1952, the plucky Anne Shirley developed into a beloved literary icon in Japan. The country opened an Anne of Green Gables theme park in 1990, and thousands of Japanese travel to P.E.I. every year to visit the locations Montgomery wrote about.

For the 100th anniversary, however, P.E.I. has seen a significant jump in visitors, with several local tour operators doubling the number of guides on duty.

"We're up a great deal more in June this year than we were last year," said Jennie MacNeill of Montgomery's  Cavendish Homestead. "People are coming and the weather hasn't been very nice, but they just keep coming."

A young Japanese couplechose to get married this year at the Anne of Green Gables Museum, said owner George Campbell.

Montgomery is one of the most-read authors in the world, said Campbell. "It just took us a long time to realize it. People are coming from around the world to see the place that she wrote about."

Lengthy legacy

Anne of Green Gables has sold approximately 50 million copies worldwide since its publication in 1908 and has been translated into more than 20 languages. Canadian actress Megan Follows shot to fame in the mid-1980s for her portrayal of Anne in the popular TV series.

Anne of Green Gables: The Musical, staged each summer at the Charlottetown Festival, is Canada's longest-running musical and has been seen by more than three million people. It is now in its 45th year.

Montgomery's Anne is now part of a multimillion-dollar industry, with the red-head's image on everything from dolls to compost packages.

This ubiquity, however, does have its detractors, including a tour guide who criticized "all the advertising and everything."

"I think P.E.I. has a lot more to offer than just Anne."