Spirit of Place: Lucy Maud Montgomery and Prince Edward Island
Patricia Vervoort is an assistant professor of art history at Lakehead
Spirit of Place is a literary and photographic view of Prince Edward Island. The text consists of passages from Lucy Maud Montgomery’s autobiography and personal letters, selected by Francis W.P. Bolger, the author of several books on the island’s history and its renowned writer. On every page are spectacular colour photographs by Wayne Barrett and Anne MacKay, professional photographers from P.E.I. As the title indicates, the emphasis is on the place; it is the landscape rather than the people that dominates. Montgomery’s statement that “Much of the beauty of the island is due to the vivid colour contrasts” (p. 49) is realized by the matching of quotes and photographs.
A note of humour occurs when a passage speaks of a birch tree as “the whitest straightest thing ever seen” while the two photos include three birches, only one of which could be termed “straight.” Another quote mentions “A still winter evening among the wooded hills with the sunset kindling great fires”; this is accompanied by a breathtaking pink and purple sunset on a snowy landscape.
The three collaborators have succeeded in giving Lucy Maud Montgomery’s verbal descriptions pictorial form. It becomes her view of the island. Another photographic collection, one that emphasizes the people, is Lionel Stevenson’s The Island.