title bar Picturing a Canadina Life: L.M. Montgomery's Personal Scrapbooks and Book Covers
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About the Scrapbooks

On 30 July 1905, Maud wrote in her journal:

This afternoon I was looking over an old scrapbook made years ago when I was going to school and college. I had many a laugh over it--and many a sigh! It seemed to hold the jests and merriment of those old days. (SJ.I,308)
More than twenty years later, on 22 November 1926, she said in her journal:
These are attic days. Again this afternoon I was in the attic looking over some old scrapbooks. I had gone up to look for a certain paper . . . but the ghostly charm of the old books seized hold of me and I stayed longer than I should . . . turning over their yellowing pages. (SJ,III,314)

An avid keeper of records, L.M. Montgomery amassed more than a dozen scrapbooks of clippings of her own poems and stories, clippings of others' stories and poems, photographs, memorabilia, and reviews of her works. In addition, she kept journals and maintained a voluminous correspondence. Whether she was collecting images from the culture around her or creating images through words, photographs, or collage, Montgomery offers us a glimpse of the world through her eyes.

There are six scrapbooks of personal memorabilia, roughly covering the years 1893 to 1937. The first four of these scrapbooks are visually the most arresting. In them she displays images of school days, college life, teaching, apprenticeship, marriage, motherhood, and war. In the earliest scrapbooks she uses lavish illustrations, mixed-media collage, experimental blue prints of her own photographs, Kodak snaps, swatches of fabric, newspaper clippings, pressed flowers, bits of wood, and cats' fur. In the later scrapbooks she relies more and more on newspaper articles and the occasional souvenir programs or tickets to illustrate her life.

The scrapbook items are not in strict chronological order--a picnic invitation from 1890 can be found among clippings of the 1920's, for example. Wedding invitations are apt to be glued onto the pages wherever there is room. Sometimes the arrangements themselves seem deliberate and meaningful; at other times the arrangements seem random. Stories emerge when related images can be viewed together.

The pages selected for this exhibition deal with only a few of the major themes and events of Montgomery's life. Special attention has been given to her years in Cavendish, her honeymoon, and the First World War. For this exhibition, there are nineteen full pages and another two hundred individual images from other pages.

The two earliest memorabilia scrapbooks are owned by the Lucy Maud Montgomery Birthplace in New London, Prince Edward Island and are housed in wintertime and maintained by the Confederation Centre Art Gallery and Museum. They contain some one hundred and thirty-six pages. The four other memorabilia scrapbooks are owned by the University of Guelph Library in Guelph, Ontario. They contain some four hundred and twenty-six pages altogether. This exhibition is drawn primarily from the two Prince Edward Island scrapbooks and the first two Ontario scrapbooks, together comprising almost four hundred pages. The PEI and Ontario pages have never before been displayed together.

Where possible, Montgomery's own photographs (owned by the University of Guelph) are used to illustrate or supplement explanations. Together the full pages and related images are meant to suggest how Montgomery saw and captured life around her. The images she collected and preserved inspired her to re-create in words the "memory pictures" that now reflect Canadian life to millions of readers. (See A Writer's Visual Imagination)

Prince Edward Island Scrapbooks
The Lucy Maud Montgomery Birthplace, in New London, Prince Edward Island, owns the earliest two personal scrapbooks: the blue one has seventy-four pages; the red one, sixty-two. The scrapbooks are housed and preserved in winter by the Confederation Centre Art Gallery and Museum. Montgomery began the first scrapbook in 1893 when she and her Cavendish schoolteacher, Selena Robinson, were caught up in the popular pastime of preserving souvenirs. The second scrapbook ends with clippings from 1909. Montgomery created mixed media collage, collected cut-outs from magazines, preserved bits of her favorite cats' fur, pasted in programs and clippings, and, in the second scrapbook, preserved some of the cyanotypes (blue prints) of her photographs. (See Photography) Ten full pages and some seventy-five individual images have been selected from these early scrapbooks.

Ontario Scrapbooks
Headline - Cat That Takes Whisky In Milk And Is Ex-Film Star The University of Guelph Library owns four of the personal memorabilia scrapbooks, covering the years 1910 to 1937, with a total of some four hundred and twenty-six pages altogether. The first pages record Montgomery's meeting with the Governor General of Canada, Earl Grey. The last item, from 1937, is a comic clipping, probably sent to her by Scottish pen-pal George Boyd MacMillan, about a huge whiskey-drinking, ex-film-star cat named Matthew of Greengables, who answers to the calling name of Marilla.

This exhibition shows nine full pages and another hundred individual images selected mostly from the first two volumes of these scrapbooks. The selected pages and images deal primarily with Montgomery's honeymoon tour of England and Scotland, the First World War, and with Montgomery's extensive public readings and meetings.

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