Anne makes a very intersting list of literary heriones

8 Literary Heroines: Sisters Doin’ It For Themselves – by Sara Newton

Sara has put together a really nice review of inspiring literary heriones which inclued Anne Shirley of course.
I’m not familiar with Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell but the story is amazing.


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Rosemary Dunsmore Wins Actra Award

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Canadian film and TV actors feted TheStar.com – Entertainment – Canadian film and TV actors feted

February 21, 2009

Rosemary Dunsmore, Nicholas Campbell and Jamie Watson won ACTRA Awards last night at the annual gala honouring outstanding performances, hosted by the Toronto chapter of the Canadian actors’ union.

Dunsmore, known for her roles as Katherine Brooke in Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel, Aunt Abigail in Road to Avonlea and the title role in CBC series Mom P.I., won for her performance as the mother of a lesbian trying to have a baby with her partner in the low-budget festival-circuit movie The Baby Formula.

Campbell, who played the title role in Da Vinci’s Inquest and has more than 40 starring film and television credits, including The Insiders, Street Legal, Flashpoint and The Border, won for playing Shorty McAdoo in TV miniseries The Englishman’s Boy.

Watson, an accomplished comic, is a veteran voice-over actor. He won for his performance in the children’s animated TV series Peep and the Big Wide World.

Peter Keleghan was presented with ACTRA Toronto’s Award of Excellence by Leah and Gordon Pinsent for his body of work.

A strong advocate of Canadian arts, Keleghan is a familiar face for his work on The Newsroom, Made in Canada, The Red Green Show, Billable Hours, Murdoch Mysteries and Slings and Arrows. He had three feature films released in 2008: Eating Buccaneers, The Bend and Coopers’ Camera. He also recently finished shooting the pilot Eighteen to Life for CBC.

The gala, hosted by Teresa Pavlinek and featuring a performance by Stephanie Martin, was scheduled to be held last night at the Carlu events theatre.

“Receiving an ACTRA Award from one’s peers is a significant feat and well worth both recognition and accolades,” said Heather Allin, president of ACTRA Toronto.

“Our performers are some of the best in the world. Each and every one of our 15 nominees worked hard, created expansively and gave their all, and it shows.”

Star staff

Megan Fallows stars in new movie with Husband Stuart Hughes

Megan Follows with Husband Stuart Hughes in Booky's Crush

Megan Follows with Husband Stuart Hughes in Booky's Crush

In this article with Town Crier the couple talk about the movie, the biz and life in Toronto and Los Angeles.

Published in: on February 18, 2009 at 5:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Canadian Actress Denise Fergusson – a convincing Rachel Lyne

Anya Laurence has written a biographical article of Denise Fergusson.  In her long career as a an actress Denise is best known to your truly a the Rachel Lynde form the Sullivan movies.

Published in: on February 3, 2009 at 12:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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Island Students Archiving Anne’s Days

History goes high-tech print this article
A Living Archives education project provided the platform for students in three Prince Edward Island schools to pair web-based technologies with the study of the province’s heritage
MARY MACKAY archiving
The Guardian

Students in three Prince Edward Island schools used something new to bring something old to life in this school session.

A new Living Archives project taught Grade 7 students at Stonepark Intermediate in Charlottetown, Ecole Evangeline in Abram-Village and Kensington Intermediate Senior High how to use web-based technologies to document and digitize the social history and historical artifacts relating to early 20th century life and showcase them on the web.

“This is the first time this has ever been done,” says a super enthusiastic Sam Preston of Covehead, 12, who was one of many Stonepark students who worked on the joint UPEI/Department of Canadian Heritage project.

The interwoven layers of the website features student writing, photography, videos and interviews related to their historical research which focused on a 50-year period between 1875 and 1925.

“It is like a virtual online textbook mainly,” says Sam of A Living Archives, which was implemented through UPEI’s Faculty of Education and supported by a contribution from the Canadian Culture Online Partnerships Fund.

Dave Cormier, web specialist for integrated promotions at UPEI, came up with the Living Archives concept, which uses Anne of Green Gables as a springboard.

“Anne is the context for the project,” he says.

“We started with seven excerpts from the Anne novels. We pulled out some general themes from the book and one of them was horses and transportation. So each one of the posts that the kids have done (on the website) is in some way connected to one of those seven excerpts.”

For instance, the horses and transportation theme used by Stonepark stems from Matthew’s and Anne’s carriage ride from the train station to Green Gables. Kensington focused on a general store theme. Ecole Evangeline did Acadian life.

“It’s the context they’re building from. It’s not like they’re studying Anne. They’re contextualizing Anne so they’re learning history,” Cormier says.

Research was a big part of the project, so students embarked upon field trips to the Public Archives and Records Office and the P.E.I. Museum and Heritage Foundation’s Artefactory to find the information and images they needed for their website postings.

“We would take pictures from the provincial archives and we would put them online and write stuff about them, my partners and me,” says 12-year-old Stonepark student Andy MacPhee of Stratford, whose topic was harness racing.

Other Stonepark themes included bicycles, trains, early autos and iceboats.

“We had to have three or four blogs each and then after that you put context pieces and link them to each other’s blogs. The context piece is basically telling what our project is and what you need for horse racing; like you need a sulky, what a sulky is and what it’s made of.”

Jerry Campbell is the Grade 7 social studies teacher at Stonepark whose class of 28 was involved with A Living Archives.

“The idea was that the lure of using technology to study the past would be a different, unique way for the kids to get turned on to history and their heritage, as opposed to

just the regular sit-down-open-a-book (way),” he says.

“We didn’t know exactly what was going to happen and what kind of interest the kids were going to have, but it has turned out to be pretty successful.”

Students have been working since early in the fall on their projects. The website is for the most part up and operational.

Bonnie Stewart, who is a A Living Archives project manager, says the project also allowed students to expand their literary skills in a whole new way.

“You give them the opportunity to both take ownership of their learning by the fact that they’re making something themselves — they were really proud of

the fact that they were

making an (e-)textbook themselves — and a chance to work within a virtual

world and stuff like that,” said Stewart.

“Then you get a high level of engagement, even from students who aren’t traditionally super readers in school in general or in the subject of history.”

A half-hour documentary video on the making of A Living Archives will be paired with the University of Prince Edward ?Island Faculty of Education research to document the learning potential of this cutting edge project so that other teachers and students down the road can adapt the project to their own needs.

For Sam, his exploration into his A Living Archives topic of bicycles on Prince Edward Island from 1875 to 1925 was a wonderful exploration into history and high-tech.

“I think it’s a lot better way of learning than just taking a textbook off the shelf and reading it,” he said.

It’s more interactive and you get to use a lot of technology.”

Fast facts

A Living Archives

n A Living Archives project is located at http://www.livingarchives.ca.

n Schools involved were Stonepark Intermediate in Charlottetown, Ecole Evangeline in Abram-Village and Kensington Intermediate Senior High.

n Archives themes are horses and transportation, the general store and Acadian life, all of which focus on a time period between 1875 and 1925.

n The project was a partnership between the University of Prince Edward Island, Canadian Heritage, Department of Education, Canada Culture Online Partnerships Fund, Museums and Heritage P.E.I., and Public Archives and Records Office of P.E.I.

http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/index.cfm?sid=121436&sc=100

Looking For Anne Review by Monica Stark

Looking for Anne review by January Magazine

Sunday, April 20, 2008

New this Month: Looking for Anne by Irene Gammel

If it seems like you’re suddenly hearing more about Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne Shirley, it’s because the first book in which Anne appeared, Anne of Green Gables, was published around this time one hundred years ago.

Earlier this year, we saw the publication of a brand new Anne book by Budge Wilson, Before Green Gables (Penguin Canada). Now noted biographer Irene Gammel brings us Looking for Anne (Key Porter Books) a brilliantly researched, in-depth and charming biography on both Lucy Maud Montgomery and her Titian-haired creation and brings us more than a few surprises. For example, we discover that Anne Shirley was as much a product of the zeitgeist as she was of innocent inspiration.

Author Gammel, who holds the research chair in modern literature and culture at Ryerson, tells us she was intrigued by the mystery that had surrounded Montgomery’s most famous literary creation. The book, Gammel writes, “was sparked by a paradox and a mystery.”

With over fifty million copies of the novel sold, a multi-million-dollar tourist industry, and countless adaptations of the novel and its sequels in musicals, movies, cartoons, dolls, and figurines, millions of fans know Anne Shirley intimately, but they know surprisingly little about how she came about. How can a work be so famous and yet its history so little known? We know more about other literary texts whose creation is shrouded in mystery, such as Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Erye, than we know about Anne of Green Gables.

Gammel never manages to lift all the secrets, but she makes some pretty strong inroads. Fans and scholars of this enduring book will leave it knowing — or suspecting — much that had been in the dark before.

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Irene is a former teacher of my wife Junko when they where at the University of Prince Edward Island.  Island Spirit PEI also had the honor of sponsoring the Ryerson Showcase : Anne of Green Gables Centenary which she lead. anne-of-green-gables-ryerson-showcase

Anne of Green Gables is an Evergreen

‘Anne of Green Gables’ is an evergreen
The sheer vitality of L.M. Montgomery’s adventure-seeking 1908 title character is as fresh as ever at 100.
By Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune
May 23, 2008
The planks that made up her bedroom wall did not fit together properly, so when she would wake up on winter mornings in an old house on Prince Edward Island, Canada, often there were snowdrifts on the floor. To keep warm while she wrote her stories, she had to curl up her legs and sit on her feet. Her secondhand typewriter lacked a “w” key.

Still she wrote. (Or “rote,” as it would have appeared in her typewritten version.) Obstacles, hardships, setbacks, impediments — they counted for nothing. Lucy Maud Montgomery, who roomed with relatives because her mother had died when she was an infant and her father left to seek his fortune elsewhere, was a small woman with a staggeringly strong will. Her imagination was a driving force that would not be denied.

When Montgomery finished her first novel, she mailed it to publisher after publisher. The rejection slips piled up like the snowdrifts in that bedroom.

And then, after more than two dozen publishers had said no, one finally said yes, and the young orphan known as Anne Shirley — don’t forget the “e” at the end of “Anne,” or she’ll let you know about it — was born into the world of readers.

“Anne of Green Gables” was published in June 1908, which means that soon it will be a century old. Yet “old” doesn’t go with the character, because if there is one thing we know about Anne, it’s that this lively, redheaded streak of exuberance, no matter her chronological age, is now and forevermore associated with youth.

Montgomery ultimately would write 24 novels, including seven more about Anne’s adventures on the ruggedly beautiful island that constitutes Canada’s smallest province. She’d also account for 530 short stories and more than 500 poems. Anne, however, was easily her most famous creation. Before Montgomery’s death in 1942 at age 67, she saw the child of her imagination — the plucky, fearless, boundary-pushing girl who was a perpetual magnet for trouble — become an international sensation. Her story was made into several movies and it inspired fan letters from around the world.

A paperback copy of any volume in the series will cost you about $5, which means that you can jump into Anne’s world for the price of a Starbucks venti latte. Trust me: After a few rollicking, helter-skelter chapters, you won’t need the caffeine anyway.

Anne has a habit of getting into “scrapes,” as her guardian, the dour Marilla, puts it. In fact, that is the chief pleasure of the Anne books: They recognize, as so many other books with young females as protagonists do not, that girls like to run and jump and get dirty and explore the woods and have adventures just as much as boys do. A century after Anne got herself tangled up in scrape after scrape, the lesson still hasn’t sunk in. The recent bestseller “The Dangerous Book for Boys” (2007) is great — but its prejudice is plain in its title. Don’t bother telling me about “The Daring Book for Girls” (2007), a thin attempt to play catch-up; all you need to know is that when USA Today reviewed the latter, the headline was: “Books for Girls Chase After the Boys.” Can’t you see Anne cringing at that?

Montgomery’s tales have held up well across the decades. There is a good deal of artistry in the books, but it is so seamlessly deployed that young readers likely won’t notice it — an enormous tribute to the author’s skills. There is a bright light at the center of these stories, a wholesomeness that might prove cloying were it not for the ornery, unrepentant nature of Anne’s impetuosity. She’s a rascal. And rascals captivate.

Montgomery’s life, alas, would prove to be far darker than that of her fictional creation. She was married to a minister, and his clinical depression became increasingly debilitating. For more than two decades, Montgomery hid her husband’s affliction from the world while struggling to raise their two children and keep writing her books. Burdened with unrelieved physical pain toward the end of her life, she became dependent on prescription medication. Her letters to friends, once cheerful, grew bitter.

There is no pleasing platitude to soften such a fate. Nor would Montgomery, a strong and accomplished woman brought low by circumstance, want us to waste our time in search of one. If there is a lesson to be learned from her life, it lies in a sentence from “Anne of Green Gables”: “Next to trying and winning,” Anne says, “the best thing is trying and failing.” The magic glimmers in the effort, not the outcome.

Anne of Green Gables and her Character – Anne Shirley’s (Blythe’s) Personality

Anne’s personality is something I would like discuss and would really like to see some comments or contributions on this one.

anne of green gables praying

What can you add to this list?   Anne Shirley is….
Imaginative. Idealistic. Aspiring. Hopeful. Passionate. Ardent. Literary. Determined. Loving. Romantic. Understanding. Fun-loving. Cheerful. Optimistic.

I’ve been interested in Jungian phychology for some time.  Carl Jung was the favorete student of Sigmond Fued, began to differ with Fruid’s anotomical fixations and went deeper into the “unconsiousness”.  Jung’s research now holds more sway and thanks to his coining we have words like “introvert”, “extrovert” and “syncronocity”

The Myers Briggs Indicator has been developed based on Jung’s work.

The Myers Briggs seems to get some harsh critisism in wiki land but in my “anecdotal” exerperince testing, in Prince Edward Island, Vermont and Ontario we have found it insightful and rewarding.  It is used in education as far away as Korea and the Korean ladies I’ve talked to thought it was somewhat to very important.

Anyway, I have seen Anne of Green Gables listed as a famous example of the INFP (Introvert, iNtuitive, Feeling, Preceptive) personlity type.  ….Anne introverted?  I don’t think so.  Well that depends if you are using the term as Jung ment it to be and not just “shy”  Jung give this fuction to those of us whos primary source of energy is internal.

As an INFP myself I can second the listing of MyPersonality.info

Type Logic

www.e-mbti.com this site uses Anne as an example of INFP imagination in childhood.

INFP

INFPs never seem to lose their sense of wonder. One might say they see life through rose-colored glasses. It’s as though they live at the edge of a looking-glass world where mundane objects come to life, where flora and fauna take on near-human qualities.

INFP children often exhibit this in a ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ fashion, switching from reality to fantasy and back again. With few exceptions, it is the NF child who readily develops imaginary playmates (as with Anne of Green Gables’s “bookcase girlfriend”–her own reflection) and whose stuffed animals come to life like the Velveteen Rabbit and the Skin Horse:

“…Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand…” (the Skin Horse)

INFPs have the ability to see good in almost anyone or anything. Even for the most unlovable the INFP is wont to have pity.

Rest you, my enemy,
Slain without fault,
Life smacks but tastelessly
Lacking your salt!
Stuck in a bog whence naught
May catapult me,
Come from the grave, long-sought,
Come and insult me!
–(Steven Vincent Benet, Elegy for an Enemy)

Their extreme depth of feeling is often hidden, even from themselves, until circumstances evoke an impassioned response:

“I say, Queequeg! Why don’t you speak? It’s I–Ishmael.” But all remained still as before. … Something must have happened. Apoplexy!
… And running up after me, she caught me as I was again trying to force open the door. … “Have to burst it open,” said I, and was running down the entry a little, for a good start, when the landlady caught me, again vowing I should not break down her premises; but I tore from her, and with a sudden bodily rush dashed myself full against the mark.–(Melville, Moby Dick)

Of course, not all of life is rosy, and INFPs are not exempt from the same disappointments and frustrations common to humanity. As INTPs tend to have a sense of failed competence, INFPs struggle with the issue of their own ethical perfection, e.g., perfo rmance of duty for the greater cause. An INFP friend describes the inner conflict as not good versus bad, but on a grand scale, Good vs. Evil. Luke Skywalker in Star Wars depicts this conflict in his struggle between the two sides of “The Force.” Although the dark side must be reckoned with, the INFP believes that good ultimately triumphs.

Some INFPs have a gift for taking technical information and putting it into layman’s terms. Brendan Kehoe’s Zen and the Art of the Internet is one example of this “de-jargoning” talent in action.

Introverted Feeling

INFPs live primarily in a rich inner world of introverted Feeling. Being inward-turning, the natural attraction is away from world and toward essence and ideal. This introversion of dominant Feeling, receiving its data from extraverted intuition, must be the source of the quixotic nature of these usually gentle beings. Feeling is caught in the approach- avoidance bind between concern both for people and for All Creatures Great and Small, and a psycho-magnetic repulsion from the same. The “object,” be it homo sapiens or a mere representation of an organism, is valued only to the degree that the object contains some measure of the inner Essence or greater Good. Doing a good deed, for example, may provide intrinsic satisfaction which is only secondary to the greater good of striking a blow against Man’s Inhumanity to Mankind.

Extraverted iNtuition

Extraverted intuition faces outward, greeting the world on behalf of Feeling. What the observer usually sees is creativity with implied good will. Intuition spawns this type’s philosophical bent and strengthens pattern perception. It combines as auxiliary with introverted Feeling and gives rise to unusual skill in both character development and fluency with language–a sound basis for the development of literary facility. If INTPs aspire to word mechanics, INFPs would be verbal artists.

Introverted Sensing

Sensing is introverted and often invisible. This stealth function in the third position gives INFPs a natural inclination toward absent- mindedness and other-worldliness, however, Feeling’s strong people awareness provides a balancing, mitigating effect. This introverted Sensing is somewhat categorical, a subdued version of SJ sensing. In the third position, however, it is easily overridden by the stronger functions.

Extraverted Thinking

The INFP may turn to inferior extraverted Thinking for help in focusing on externals and for closure. INFPs can even masquerade in their ESTJ business suit, but not without expending considerable energy. The inferior, problematic nature of Extraverted Thinking is its lack of context and proportion. Single impersonal facts may loom large or attain higher priority than more salient principles which are all but overlooked.

Famous INFPs:

Homer
Virgil
Mary, mother of Jesus
St. John, the beloved disciple
St. Luke; physician, disciple, author
William Shakespeare, bard of Avon
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Evangeline)
A. A. Milne (Winnie the Pooh)
Laura Ingalls Wilder (Little House on the Prairie)
Helen Keller, deaf and blind author
Carl Rogers, reflective psychologist, counselor
Fred Rogers (Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood)
Dick Clark (American Bandstand)
Donna Reed, actor (It’s a Wonderful Life)
Jacqueline Kennedy Onasis
Neil Diamond, vocalist
Tom Brokaw, news anchor
James Herriot (All Creatures Great and Small)
Annie Dillard (Pilgrim at Tinker Creek)
James Taylor, vocalist
Julia Roberts, actor (Conspiracy Theory, Pretty Woman)
Scott Bakula (Quantum Leap)
Terri Gross (PBS’s “Fresh Air”)
Amy Tan (author of The Joy-Luck Club, The Kitchen God’s Wife)
John F. Kennedy, Jr.
Lisa Kudrow (“Phoebe” of Friends)
Fred Savage (“The Wonder Years”)

Fictional INFPs:

Anne (Anne of Green Gables)
Calvin (Calvin and Hobbes)
Deanna Troi (Star Trek – The Next Generation)
Wesley Crusher (Star Trek – The Next Generation)
Doctor Julian Bashir (Star Trek: Deep Space 9)
Bastian (The Neverending Story)
E.T.: the ExtraTerrestrial
Doug Funny, Doug cartoons
Tommy, Rug Rats cartoons
Rocko, Rocko’s Modern Life cartoons
Do you see some resemblance?

Japanese Sisters Share Bond With Beloved Island Redhead

Japanese sisters share bond with beloved Island redhead

STACEY MURRAY
The Guardian

CAVENDISH — Eri and Mie Muraoka grew up with Anne of Green Gables in their lives, but their relationship with the fictional redhead was far from ordinary.
Their grandmother, Hanako Muraoka, was the first person to translate the novel in Japanese, an accomplishment that helped establish a long-lasting relationship with Prince Edward Island.
Eri said her grandmother translated many novels from North America, but wanted to translate a Canadian novel after attending a Canadian missionary school as a child.
When the Second World War broke out in 1939, a teacher who remained close to Hanako gave her a copy of the novel before leaving the country.
“They were good friends,’’ Eri said, with the help of translator Yuka Takahashi, who spoke on behalf of both women.
Eri said in the years that followed, English books were banned in the country and translating the novel came with great risks.
“The situation was very serious.’’
In fact, when warning sirens would sound, Hanako had to find a way to conceal the manuscript while retreating to safety, she said.
“She had to stop translating and would put it in a bag and go to the shelter to hide it.’’
It took six years to translate the novel, which was published seven years later — in 1952.
Hanako decided to publish the translation because morale was very low in the country and she wanted to spread the joy of Anne.
“It gave a lot of hope to the younger Japanese readers,’’ Eri said.
A new edition of the novel has been published this year in Japan to mark 100 years since its original publication in Canada. The new version also has an updated translation by Mie.
“Some words were very old,’’ Mie said.
She first came to the Island 19 years ago and her impressions haven’t changed since then.
“(I have) been deeply impressed by the friendship . . . they started having a friendship almost 100 years ago,’’ Mie said.
That was nearly 20 years before official diplomatic relations were developed between the two countries, she said.
For Eri, the novel was almost a spiritual experience. When she came to the province for the first time last year, it was everything she expected.
“(I have) been feeling the Island magic since (I) came to P.E.I. Anne of Green Gables is a book of Anne, but the story tells of Prince Edward Island,’’ she said.
Eri decided the anniversary was also the right time to publish a biography about her grandmother.
“This is a good year to remind people,’’ she said.
The pair also operates an Anne of Green Gables attraction in Japan, which gives visitors a chance to visit Hanako’s study room where she did much of her translations.

Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2008, 02:05 PM (UTC -4)

We had tea with the Muaroka  family while they visited Prince Edward Island this Summer.  It was splendid.  I couldn’t tell you what most of the conversations where about but a had a nice chat in English with Mia’s husband and son.

The Muaroka sisters are very kind and ladies with a capital “L”.  For more information about their beloved grandmother please visit there website.


The Heartbreaking Truth About Anne’s Creator

It is hard to read about the tragic death of Lucy Maud Montgomery.  I    am grateful to Kate MacDonald and her family for sharing and helping people others to break free of stigma.
The Hearbreaking Truth About Anne’s Creator

Globe and Mail September 19, 2008

For many years, my family has kept a troubling secret. What has made things even more difficult is the fact that the person it involves was not only my grandmother, but one of Canada’s most beloved authors, Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Her most famous novel, Anne of Green Gables, is still a bestseller after 100 years. In addition to Anne, my grandmother wrote 19 other novels, personal journals and hundreds of short stories and poems. As well, she has been the subject of several biographical studies.

Despite her great success, it is known that she suffered from depression, that she was isolated, sad and filled with worry and dread for much of her life. But our family has never spoken publicly about the extent of her illness.

What has never been revealed is that L.M. Montgomery took her own life at the age of 67 through a drug overdose.

I wasn’t told the details of what happened, and I never saw the note she left, but I do know that it asked for forgiveness.

After having read the poignant Breakdown series on mental health in The Globe and Mail during the summer, I was inspired to reflect upon my own family’s history with depression.

Additionally, the recent focus on my grandmother’s creativity – this is the 100th anniversary of the publication of Anne of Green Gables, with events around the world celebrating Anne and her creator – has encouraged me to end our silence.

I have come to feel very strongly that the stigma surrounding mental illness will be forever upon us as a society until we sweep away the misconception that depression happens to other people, not us – and most certainly not to our heroes and icons.

Obviously it can happen to anyone. The public faces of such prominent Canadians as Roméo Dallaire, James Bartleman, Valerie Pringle and others who supported mental-health awareness during the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s recent publicity campaign have also had a powerful effect on me.

But, most important, the legacy of L.M. Montgomery, and my grandfather, Rev. Ewan Macdonald, and its related responsibilities and joys, are taken very seriously by my family. I spoke with them before writing this essay and we agreed that it was important for us to share our family’s story.

I never knew my grandmother. She died in 1942, before I was born. My grandfather, who also suffered from serious mental illness, died the following year. I got to know them through my father.

After my two older brothers married and left home, I had my parents all to myself for a few short years before my father, a physician at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, died in 1982. I became closer to him while I studied at the dining-room table – a time when we had a lot of conversations together. We developed a deeper connection during his last years and I am grateful for those memories of our time together.

When the last volume of The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery was published in 2004, I sobbed through it and, in fact, I couldn’t even finish it – there was such a profound sadness for me in imagining how my father must have coped with two such depressed parents.

For a young man in the prime of his life, it must have been an overwhelming responsibility. I remembered our late-night conversations and how he shared many memories, yet rarely talked about the burdens he must have felt during his young adult life.

My heart aches for my father, who was left behind to deal with the grief of losing his beloved mother. He carried the secret of the circumstances of her death and maintained the façade of a proper and well-adjusted family because of his desire to protect them and their reputation in the community.

Reading between the lines

L.M. Montgomery’s most famous character, Anne Shirley, declared, “My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes,” and readers find it one of Anne’s more endearing sayings. That particular lament has always been especially significant to me as I imagine my grandmother must have felt the same sadness at times in her life. The fictional Anne went on to happiness and a life full of love and fulfilment. My grandmother’s reality was not so positive, although she continues to inspire generations of readers with her books, which reveal her understanding of nature – both in matters of the heart and the world. Although she was a very successful author, her life was overshadowed by her depression, coping with her husband’s mental illness and the restrictions of her life as a clergyman’s wife and mother in an era when women’s roles were highly defined.

Even though I never met them, I’ve always regarded my paternal grandparents with great affection because of their influence on my father and, therefore, on me. I grew up admiring their achievements, both professional and personal, through my father’s stories and reminiscences.

My heart aches for them, as well, because I know they were part of a generation that simply did not acknowledge personal dysfunction, let alone seek help.

I have great admiration for my grandmother, for her contribution to Canadian literature and culture, her strength of character, and the love, pride and sense of responsibility she gave to my family.

I am proud of her courage, given how isolated and lonely she must have felt during certain periods of her life. I wish that her family or community had had some of the tools that are available today. I expect that most families continue to be bewildered about how to help loved ones who suffer from debilitating depression.

I hope that by writing about my grandmother now there might be less secrecy and more awareness that will ease the unnecessary suffering so many people experience as a result of such depressions.

An encouraging light

The recent Globe and Mail series certainly sheds an encouraging light on the notion of the “perfect” family, acknowledging that it may include the reality of depression and other mental illness, and suggests that the shame surrounding these subjects may be lifting.

I’ll never know if my grandmother might have been inclined to seek help if she had lived in a less judgmental era or if she had had access to supportive therapy or the medications available today. I would like to think so.

I long to tell her how I wish her family could have known how to help her and how proud we all are of her accomplishments. I also wish that, while my father was still alive, my family could have helped one another more by talking more openly about our feelings around her death. We realize now that secrecy is not the way to deal with the reality of depression and other mental-health issues.

Kate Macdonald Butler is the daughter of Stuart Macdonald, who was the youngest son of L.M. Montgomery.