Chantelle MacDonald, project co-ordinator with Parks Canada, said Green Gables House in Cavendish will be more accessible and barrier-free than ever. She’s pictured here just outside the pantry in the house.
This is view looking down between the barn at Green Gables at the new $9.3-million interpretive centre. The project will be finished in time for the upcoming tourist season.
It’s a little messy right now but the new interpretive centre at Green Gables Heritage Place in Cavendish isn’t far from completion. The exterior is expected to be finished sometime next month while the inside should be ready by May.
Chantelle MacDonald, project co-ordinator with Parks Canada, said this is the type of view visitors to Green Gables Heritage Place in Cavendish will have when they exit the new interpretive centre. Green Gables House and the barn will now be visible.
When visitors to the new interpretive centre at Green Gables Heritage Place in Cavendish exit the building the first sight they will see to the right will be Green Gables House, a change from the way things were with the old visitor’s information centre.
Chantelle MacDonald, project co-ordinator for Parks Canada, said work is being done to the front porch of Green Gables House to make the entrance level with the ground and more accessible and barrier-free for the public. The work is being done while a new interpretive centre, which will see a grand opening in June, is also being constructed.
David Bradley, left, and Pat MacKay with WMM Construction work on the wall of the new interpretive centre at Green Gables Heritage Place in Cavendish. Construction is expected to wrap up sometime in March.
The granddaughter of Lucy Maud Montgomery said the late author’s presence will soon be felt like never before in Cavendish.
Kate Macdonald Butler is talking about the new visitor information/interpretive centre currently under construction at Green Gables Heritage Place.
The four-year, $9.3-million project began in July of 2015 and is expected to be finished by the spring.
“I am so excited about this and I am so grateful that Parks Canada has decided to spend the money. It’s a really great thing,’’ Macdonald Butler told The Guardian in a telephone interview.
“Most important of all is the information you’re going to learn when you visit the interpretive centre.’’
While the Green Gables house and the story of “Anne of Green Gables’’ is the focus for so many visitors every year, the interpretive centre will also teach people about the woman who wrote the legendary tale. Visitors will also learn about her other works and what it was about Cavendish that inspired her.
That’s what sticks with Macdonald Butler.
People will now learn more about who her grandmother was.
“For so many years, people came to see (the house) and there were people who were well versed in “Anne of Green Gables’’, but nobody really talked about L.M. Montgomery on the site. So, this is wonderful, this is great because this is connecting the whole thing. It’s all coming together now.’’
A new Anne
- Canada’s Ballet Jorgen du Canada is launching “Anne of Green Gables: The Ballet’’ on Sept. 28 in Halifax
- It will transport audiences to early 20th century Atlantic Canada
- It’s based on Lucy Maud Montgomery’s novel and will feature the same music heard in “Anne of Green Gables: The Musical’’
- The ballet show will be touring Canada. Tour dates are expected to be announced in the near future
Macdonald Butler said there will be a grand opening in June. She’s hoping it falls on the 20th because that’s the anniversary of the day Montgomery received her first bound copy of “Anne of Green Gables’’. Macdonald Butler will be on hand at the event.
“The 20th would be most appropriate.’’
The new interpretive centre will have ticketing for the site and feature washrooms, a gift shop and a little bit of office space.
In addition to the new interpretive centre, Parks Canada has expanded the parking lot by 60 spaces and separated the main parking area from where the motorcoaches pick up and drop off guests for safety reasons.
Chantelle MacDonald, project co-ordinator for Parks Canada, said construction of the interpretive centre is expected to be complete by mid-March.
“That will give us plenty of time to fit the building up for site opening on May 1,’’ MacDonald said, noting there will still be landscaping and site work taking place in May and June.
There is another noticeable difference at the site now. Green Gables is not only the first thing people notice exiting the interpretive centre, but the house is also visible from the parking lot.
“One of the issues and challenges we were having with visitors before this redevelopment is people would come to our visitor’s centre and say ‘Where’s the house?’
“So, the design of the new building has made it such that when visitors exit that main building they have that a-ha moment, the first view of Green Gables house. That’s often where we see people get emotional. It’s really a journey and a pilgrimage for a lot of our visitors, and when they get that first glimpse of Green Gables House that’s when they really say, ‘I’ve arrived’.’’
There’s also some work being done to the house itself. Workers have removed the step on the front porch.
“We wanted to eliminate the step and make the entrance more accessible and barrier-free, so we’ve raised the porch a little bit. We’ll regrade and re-landscape outside the house so the pathway coming into the house will be level with the entrance,’’ MacDonald said. “The doors will also be widened a little to make it more accessible at the front door as well as on the first floor of the house.’’
That work is expected to be completed by mid-April.