Fans of L.M. Montgomery have a special anniversary to note: July 5th marked the 100th anniversary of her wedding to Ewan Macdonald. The couple were married in the living room of Park Corner, the house that inspired many of Maud’s stories, on Prince Edward Island.
And now, fans can do more than just remember this historical date – they can relive it in person. This summer, a reproduction of Maud’s wedding trousseau will be on display in both Green Gables Heritage Place, in Cavendish, and the couple’s parsonage in Leaskdale, Ontario (Uxbridge Township).
Arnold Smith, who gives bus tours and tours of Green Gables during the off-season, is responsible for authentically recreating Maud’s wedding wardrobe. The talented tailor is also the co-owner of Bay Vista Motel in Cavendish, which sees thousands of visitors come to the island specifically to see the places that inspired the famous author.
As the chair of the Montgomery Theatre, Smith is happy to do anything he can to celebrate Maud’s legacy. “For everything she has done for us, any time I can do something that gives something back to her, I will,” he told The Guardian.
Smith has been refashioning six dresses in total – in Maud’s actual dress size – and they will be divided up in the coming days between Green Gables, where they will be on view for the rest of the summer, and Leaskdale.
“There were seven original photographs of the trousseau. But the seventh was so foggy we couldn’t see the detail on it, so we recreated six,” says Smith. The article states: There’s a white embroidered cotton dress, a dark green dress with a pleated skirt and a red dress made of striped silk net. There’s also a black dress with a sash and embroidered cuffs, a muted green dress with a wide yoke and a long gray and black coat.
Smith describes Maud’s fashion taste as stylish, but not over the top. “She liked nice clothes. As an author, she was always being asked to speak, so she knew that she needed things that were classy.” But as a minister’s wife, she knew that she must be appropriately dressed. Her trousseau, which Smith has been working on since February, ultimately reflects this, he says.
However, recreating Maud’s clothing was not an easy task. Working with just old photographs, Smith could only see the front of the dresses. But he turned to similar styles in old magazines like Ladies Home Journal, which gave him an overall sense of the design. The next step was making patterns, sewing mockups along with his sister, Anita MacInnes, and then sewing the finished pieces in the right fabrics.
Another challenge was the fact that certain fabrics had different names back then. “For example, broadcloth meant something completely different in Montgomery’s time than it does today,” he says.
This isn’t the first time Smith has produced period clothing. In 2008, during the 100th anniversary celebrations of the publication of Anne of Green Gables, he created costumes for the picnic and parade in Cavendish. The idea to recreate Maud’s trousseau came to him at that time.
But Smith’s work is still not finished. He intends to produce a garment that reflects Maud’s love of the island. “Lucy Maud wrote that what surrounded her was what influenced her. I want to make a cape, starting from the shoulders, flowing down and trailing behind. On the trails will be the ocean, coming up onto a beach with cliffs and sand dunes,” he says.
These designs will either be embroidered, painted or appliquéd, and other Maud-related places, like Green Gables, will be inserted onto the cape, reaching up into the sky.