PEI

Piece of L.M. Montgomery's childhood home returned to original homestead

An old building connected to Lucy Maud Montgomery is now back on the original homestead property in Cavendish, P.E.I.

Family plans to turn building into a museum

The kitchen from the home where L.M. Montgomery was raised has been moved back to the original homestead after about 50 years away. (David Macneill)

An old building connected to Lucy Maud Montgomery is now back on the original homestead property in Cavendish, P.E.I. 

The building was once the kitchen of the home where Montgomery was raised by her grandparents, Alexander and Lucy Macneill. 

"We've talked about it for years and saying how nice it would be to have back. And it's pretty cool to have it back here on the property," said David Macneill, Montgomery's first cousin twice removed.

The Macneill family owns and runs the Site of Lucy Maud Montgomery's Cavendish Home, the farm of Montgomery's maternal grandparents where she lived for the first 37 years of her life. 

Back on property after 50 years

Macneill explains that around 1920 the old house fell in, but the kitchen — which also housed a post office — was still intact. 

'It's pretty cool to have it back here on the property," said L.M. Montgomery descendant David Macneill. (David Macneill)

"So my great-grandfather at the time moved it over to the barnyard and actually used it as an outbuilding."

But the small building was removed from the property in the late 1960s, Macneill said, when late historian Father Francis Bolger asked Macneill's grandfather if he could use the building while researching and writing a biography about Montgomery.

"My grandfather gave it to him with the stipulation that when he was done with it, it would come back to the Macneills."

Plans for a museum

Bolger died in 2017, and so it was time for the building to be returned to the Macneill property. 

Macneill says the building has been well preserved and is structurally sound. (David Macneill)

Macneill said Bolger took good care of the building, including protecting the base with a stone perimeter. 

"I had a structural engineer look at it prior to the movement, and he said it's more sound than most buildings that are built today. So I was pretty impressed with that."

While the building is no longer set up as a kitchen, Macneill says he does have the old desk and scales from the post office, which he will set up in the building.

He also plans to moved artifacts from the bookstore on the homestead site into the building, and set it up as a museum.

"One of our complaints is well, there's no building to go into. Well, now there is."

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With files from CBC Radio: Mainstreet P.E.I.

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