PEI

L.M. Montgomery fan organizes fundraiser for homestead damaged by Dorian

An Island woman has started an online fundraising campaign to help restore the Macneill homestead in Cavendish, P.E.I. Lucy Maud Montgomery was raised by her grandparents on the site and wrote Anne of Green Gables there.

Online fundraiser called Save Montgomery's Hallowed Ground

The goal is to raise $15,000 through the online campaign and Bruce hopes that will help with clearing up the damage and replanting more trees. (Denise Bruce of Ingleside/Facebook)

An Island woman has started an online fundraising campaign to help restore the Macneill homestead in Cavendish, P.E.I., after the property was heavily damaged by post-tropical storm Dorian.

Lucy Maud Montgomery was raised by her grandparents on the site and lived there, on and off, for the first 37 years of her life. 

Montgomery wrote Anne of Green Gables in the old kitchen, which also served as the post office for the community.

Denise Bruce, who's known as Denise of Ingleside, started the fundraiser after seeing the damage from Dorian.

The Macneills had placed interpretive panels around the property explaining the connections to Montgomery's life and writing. (Denise Bruce of Ingleside/Facebook)

"I am a Lucy Maud fan and have been pretty much all my life, I have loved the homestead ever since I first saw it when I was a little girl," Bruce said.

"For this chance to come up to help, I had to do it. There was there was no other choice but to do it."

'It just hurt'

Bruce travelled to the homestead as soon as the storm passed.

"I was dreading going but I knew I had to do it and as I was driving through Cavendish the first thing I saw was a boat sinking in the water," Bruce said.

"As I got closer and closer to the homestead, I could see the trees down at Cavendish, so many of them."

Denise Bruce of Ingleside poses with a statue of Lucy Maud Montgomery in Cavendish, P.E.I. (Submitted by Denise Bruce)

Bruce started walking down the lane to the homestead and could see trees that had been cut because they were across the lane.

"That hurt and then I came around the corner, saw the bookstore and the kitchen and then I saw trees everywhere," Bruce said.

"I couldn't believe it and every tree, it just hurt because I'm a tree lover, I love them."

Bruce was relieved that the old apple tree was spared. (Denise Bruce of Ingleside/Facebook)

Bruce was also amazed that some special spots were spared. 

"The well wasn't touched thankfully, the old apple tree was not touched unbelievably," Bruce said.

"But the foundation, the trees were all over. It was very sad and very hard and heartbreaking to see it."

The fallen trees are blocking many of the pathways on the property. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Kindred spirits 

Since launching the campaign, Bruce has heard from Montgomery fans from around the world. 

"It has been heartwarming. I just love it and there's so many kindreds out there who give and they're giving all they can and every little bit helps," Bruce said.

"They're so proud to be able to do it for Maud and for the homestead, just their way of giving back." 

Melanie Fishbane wrote a young adult novel about Montgomery called Maud and is one of the donors to the fundraising campaign.

"It was heartbreaking, I love all the Montgomery sites but that one is so special to me, it's the one where she wrote Anne of Green Gables," Fishbane said.

"The idea that the trees that she loved were damaged, it was a really emotional moment for me."

David Macneill says that over the 18 years that he has been working at the site, seeing the damage after the storm was heartbreaking. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Fishbane was happy to see the fundraising campaign organized to help the homestead and the response so far. 

"I think it just shows the legacy Montgomery has and how much her books have touched people from around the world," Fishbane said.

"And how the Macneills have worked so hard to create such a special sacred place for people to visit and that it means so much to those people when they come and visit where Montgomery lived."

Bruce is worried about the foundation of the homestead because it was covered in trees after the storm. (Denise Bruce of Ingleside/Facebook)

$15K goal

Bruce says the Macneills have been busy working to clear the downed trees and assess the damage, but have also been heartened by the response to the fundraiser.

"They're very, very thankful and they're overwhelmed," Bruce said. 

"There's so much damage and so much work that has to be done, this is giving them the push to keep going."

Lucy Maud Montgomery was raised by her grandparents on the site and lived there, on and off, for the first 37 years of her life. (Denise Bruce of Ingleside/Facebook)

The goal is to raise $15,000 through the online campaign and Bruce hopes that will help with clearing up the damage and replanting more trees.

She hopes the famous writer would be proud of the efforts to restore the homestead.

"I would do anything to help Maud, she's helped me my whole life, she's helped me through the bad times and and the good times," Bruce said.

"There's always something that's been helpful, her quotes, her books. Anything about her has helped me get through."

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About the Author

Nancy Russell has been a reporter with CBC since 1987, in Whitehorse, Winnipeg, Toronto and Charlottetown. When not on the job, she spends her time on the water rowing, travelling to Kenya or walking her dog. Nancy.Russell@cbc.ca

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