Miniature P.E.I. villages a labour of love for Quebec-based Anne fan
'I wanted to model something that is special to me,' says Quebec woman
From a distance, it just looks like a table filled with odds and ends.
But up close, a P.E.I. landscape emerges with local landmarks, buildings and some familiar scenes from L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series.
"I've always been a huge fan of Anne of Green Gables and I love P.E.I. as well," said creator Émiline Filion. "So I wanted to model something that is special to me."
The diorama lives on a dedicated table in her living room in Chambly, Que., created using a standard model train sizing called N-scale (also referred to as 1:160).
The labour of love started eight years ago when she decided the fictional village of Avonlea would be the perfect inspiration for a diorama.
Old and new sit side by side in this mini world. Familiar Anne sights can be found: Green Gables House, L. M. Montgomery's birthplace and the Lake of Shining Waters. Passenger trains run no longer in reality on P.E.I., but they have a place in Filion's living-room creation.
On the other hand, there were no Frosty Treat locations back in Anne Shirley's day, and Filion has included other modern-day P.E.I. staples like Cows Creamery, the Anne of Green Gables store, Cavendish Farms, and mini tourists at Teacup Rock at Thunder Cove Beach.
A certain tiny red-haired character can be found at some of the locations, along with many other characters from the book series.
About 800 hours of design and creation time went into the Avonlea project. With lots of P.E.I.-themed ideas remaining three years ago, Filion started a second diorama for the fictional village of Carmody, also created by Montgomery.
So far, she has put around 400 hours into that one.
She has other projects on the go but said the two P.E.I. locations take up the most space in her living room.
"I am so proud of what I have been doing so far," Filion said. "But I like over [the] years to make some changes or move some figures."
Some of the materials used, like the iconic P.E.I. red dirt and small sandstone pebbles, are from the Island.
The houses and buildings have evolved over the years. Filion said they consist of a mixture of building materials.
Some of the houses are printed on card stock and then folded and glued together. Others, she bought from her local hobby store before updating them with appropriately themed Island decorations.
The latest additions to the village are 3D-printed models.
She also uses wooden pieces like match sticks, Popsicle sticks and balsa wood.
Filion said she tries to travel to P.E.I. every summer and finds new inspiration each time she comes.
A visit last year was not possible due to the pandemic, but she looks forward to returning as soon as it is possible to visit safely.
Third version of Green Gables itself
As Filion's skills have improved, she has updated some of the houses, scenery and characters.
She said this is the third version of the Green Gables house — designed from photos she took herself.
She estimates she spends about five hours a week working on the villages, enjoying a tranquil mental visit to P.E.I.
"Whatever I'm working on, a house, the scenery — I just focus on this part and it's pretty good for the soul," Filion said.
"I don't think about something else. I just focus myself when I have to do and once I'm done I just feel happy. I feel, like, calm and peaceful."