Sunday, April 21, 2019

Lucy Maud in the Muskokas

Lucy Maud Montgomery and Bala / Jack Hutton & Linda Jackson-Hutton
Gravenhurst, ON: Watts Printing, c1998
86 p.
Sometimes my job has unexpected and wonderful perks. Recently I met a couple while I was working, and in conversation we discovered that we were all LM Montgomery fans -- in fact, the husband of the couple was a descendent of Mr. Mustard from Lucy Maud's Prince Albert years. As other fans will know, Maud visited the Mustards many, many years later, when they were in Bala, in Northern Ontario. This visit was the genesis of her only adult novel, The Blue Castle, which was set in the Muskoka region. If you're interested in her visit, there is also a 1995 article written about it by LMM scholar Mary Beth Cavert, available online.

In any case, a little later on, this couple dropped off a copy of this charming book for me. I was completely surprised by this generosity, and delighted to read the story of Jack and Linda Hutton, who started a private museum, Bala's Museum, in 1992. It celebrates Maud's visit and holds family events and gatherings focused on her writing. You can find a brief precis of some of the history of the museum, which is shared in this book, on their website as well. 

While the book seems short, only 86 pages, it is also jam-packed with the story of how Jack and Linda met, married and decided to start an independent museum based on the short, one-time visit that Maud made to Bala. It also looks at the story of Maud's writing life and her celebrity; there is a chapter all about John Mustard; and some contributions by or about contemporary Maud scholars and aficionados, like Mary Rubio or Jean Little

It also has a load of wonderful photos of the Montgomery family, of the Huttons and the museum, and of the glorious landscape of Bala. The back cover is a map attempting to trace the movements of Valancy Stirling and Barney Snaith, of The Blue Castle, a route you can follow yourself if you're inclined to take a driving tour. 

It's a charming, homey book, with lots of pure joy in it. You can tell the authors love LMM and the history of the area, and that they have created this still-active museum out of passion. I've only been up to Gravenhurst once, and thought it was lovely, and now that I know all about this nearby LMM location, I'm going to have to go back. This was a delightful read. 


  1. So fun that you got to meet fellow LMM fans!! That's bookish serendipity at its best. :)

    1. It was so amazing! They were so lovely to talk to :)

  2. That's so cool: I'll definitely have a look for this to plan a route!

    1. This would be a fun addition to a summer holiday in that area, for sure :)


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