Avonlea Village is not, as I expected, a replica of a historic village with actors in costume and character out of L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series filling the street. You would think it would be, wouldn’t you? Despite being named after Montgomery’s fictional village, it is in fact more akin to an outdoor mall with touristy trinket shops and an equal number of eateries. The whole village is about a block long. The shops and eateries line both sides of an unpaved, curving road of rocks with a wooden sidewalk on both sides. They could not even bother to simply have a red dirt road? It would have been more accurate to the book and time period. (All the sand and dirt on PEI is red due to high iron content and oxidation causing it to rust.) The place was nearly empty of people while we were there. Which surprised me, considering it was lunch time.
Our lunch options included grilled cheese, baked potatoes, lobster, or pizza. (Can you tell the place is geared toward families with young children?) We lunched at Piatto Pizza and learned a little more about PEI from our waiter, a young local of the island. Our waiter proudly told us that this Avonlea Village pizzeria is the only VPN approved Piatto Pizzaria in PEI. Apparently that means that the pizzas are cooked for no more than 90 seconds, along with a whole host of other VPN standards. He couldn’t however remember what VPN stood for. He also told us that Avonlea Village is a seasonal attraction. The tourist season of PEI is only a couple months long. Although it was hard to believe, sitting outside in the warm summer day, the weather of PEI is not often warm and sunny. July is apparently the best time to visit and we lucked out with the weather. He also told us that the population of PEI drops significantly in the off season. It seems the population is made up of tourists, summer vacationers and workers, and college students, many of whom work tourist jobs on PEI for the summer and then return to Charlottetown for college in the fall. Our waiter was one such student.
After pizza we couldn’t help stopping for Cows ice cream before we shopped. Cows has about 30 different homemade flavors of ice cream and many are constantly changing. The first ice cream I had in Charlottetown had been an Apple Crisp flavor. It was AMAZING. This time Micah had a Blueberry and I had a triple chocolate mixture. Both delicious.
Avonlea Village Shopping
The shops include the Avonlea Gallery where I searched for a photo print of some place we’d already seen. I quickly discovered that we had hardly seen any of the island yet. The majority of the photos and paintings were of lighthouses and harbors. There were none of the Montgomery heritage sites. I noted the place names on the prints so I could look them up on the map later. I wanted to see in person the spectacular views depicted.
Then there was the Anne Chocolate Shop, filled with chocolate and candies, maple cookies, tea, preserves, and Raspberry Cordial all with the Anne of Green Gables logo on the front. Most of these are products of the Cows ice cream company. One of the specialties we found being promoted at all the Anne Chocolate Shops we visited is milk chocolate covered potato chips. I know. It sounds weird, but they’re strangely good. Besides stocking up on anything I could find with maple flavoring, including a maple tea which I have yet to try, I bought a 12 pack of Raspberry Cordial. (Amazingly, with enough bubble wrap, all 12 made it safely through airport security and all the way home.)
We found in both Charlottetown and Avonlea Village, the Anne of Green Gables Chocolates shop is never far an Anne of Green Gables Store. This shop contains all of the same trinkets that are sold in the gift shops of all the L. M. Montgomery heritage sites. I was going to buy some Blueberry tea, until I looked at the ingredients list. It contained a Ceylon tea blend. It wasn’t until I picked up the Chamomile tea tin and noticed that the ingredients list was exactly the same that I became skeptical. Chamomile is NOT a black tea! I passed on the teas.
Among all the newer looking shops there were at least two older buildings that had been moved here for restoration and preservation. One is the school house Maud taught in for 3 years. It is now a gift shop. The other building is a church. I don’t think it had anything to do with Maud, but it may have at least been from the period during which she lived. It is still used daily for live music performances.
Avonlea Village is adjacent to a fairground. Just between the two sits a small wooden building that was labeled “Artisan market.” This was by far my favorite shop. Inside were individual local vendors each selling small amounts of stock and promoting their Etsy shops. One woman sold some beautiful hand crocheted shawls, another had wooden cutting boards, but my favorite over all was the goat milknsoap smelling of Raspberry Cordial! OMG I just wanted to bite into it!
Visit The Crochet Room PEI Etsy shop (here).
Visit South Shore Dairy Goats online (here)
I think I was slightly disappointed that Avonlea wasn’t a historic village and there were not any actors in character of the Anne books, but the shopping wasn’t bad.