Words by Danielle Reid
Visuals by Jerry Zhang
In June, a friend and I took a weekend girls’ trip to an unexpected location.
It felt like we had been dreaming for years about travelling to Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) and finally, after some planning and securing a pair of too-cheap-to-pass-up plane tickets, those dreams were about to be realized. We landed in Charlottetown around 9 p.m. and took a 30-minute cab ride through a series of pitch-black back roads. I was surprised the driver could see anything.
We told him we were spending the weekend in Cavendish, P.E.I., a town we later realized was quite rural and didn’t have much else to do in the spring other than eat fish and chips and be in bed by 8 p.m. The cab driver laughed and asked why on earth we decided to stay all the way out there.
The answer? A plucky redheaded girl with pigtails and a straw hat made us do it.
Anne of Green Gables is a novel written by Lucy Maud Montgomery published in 1908 that chronicles the life of a whimsical and high-spirited orphan named Anne Shirley. We follow her story as she’s mistakenly sent to live with middle-aged siblings, the Cuthberts, who had initially requested a strong boy to help work their farm. The book takes place in the scenic landscape of Avonlea, P.E.I., a fictional town that’s based on the author’s real home of—you guessed it—Cavendish, P.E.I.
The book is about Anne’s love of reading, her wild imagination and the adventures that imagination takes her on. It holds such a special place in my heart. Since its release, the book has inspired a number of movies and TV show adaptations as well, making the story accessible to so many more generations.
As a kid, it was the first chapter book I had ever read. This was huge because, before the fifth grade, you couldn’t pay me to read anything. My mom bought the book from Chapters and every night we would curl up in my parents’ bed and read a chapter or two of the book together.
Even though I was pretty young and don’t remember much of what we read, I consider those nights, digging into Anne’s adventures with my mother, to be a core memory. From my childhood on, it’s felt like Anne has been a constant figure in my life.
When the TV adaptation came out in 2017, my high school friends got into it as well. Anne became kind of a celebrity in our lives. So much of a celebrity that my friend and I, two girls in their 20s, would fly to another province to experience her town.
We wanted to go to P.E.I. to visit the town where the book took place. Despite it being outside the city, we chose to stay in Cavendish, instead of the capital, Charlottetown, because it meant our inn would be within walking distance from The Anne of Green Gables Museum.
When we began exploring the city, it was kind of comical how obsessed everyone seemed with Anne. We jokingly wondered, “What would we do tonight?” Anne of Green Gables–The Musical? Maybe after dinner, a quick dessert at the Anne of Green Gables chocolate factory? But now that I think about it, it’s kind of incredible how one character from a book written over 100 years ago has made such a profound impact on an entire province and its people. Nearly every street you turn on has a reference to Anne and her adventures laced throughout it. In every corner, within every detail–there she was.
Books and stories have the power to bring people together. Of course, movies and television can do this too, but there’s something extra remarkable about being able to hold the physical thing in your hands. You can’t dog-ear the pages of a movie to hold your place in a story like you can a book. You can’t highlight and annotate in the margins of a television screen.
Print is special. So special that I keep a perfume box at the top of my closet that holds all of my cherished printed mementoes like confetti from New Year’s Eve, handwritten letters and tickets from my favourite movies.
When struggling to come up with a theme for this year’s Arts and Culture special issue, one of the previous arts editors, Madeline Liao, told me, “Just choose something you love.” So, that’s what I did.
Welcome to The Print Issue—a love letter to the tactile, tangible, physical medium of print. Some say that as technology becomes even more convenient and accessible, print is dead. But you, holding a copy of this newspaper in your hands, are real and hopeful proof that it is not. The Print Issue will explore the stories of students and alumni who are keeping print alive and using it as a way to share their art, connect with their communities or just as a way to add joy to their lives. Whether it’s pen to paper or the ink drying on a freshly printed photograph—print means a lot to students at Toronto Metropolitan University. This issue is meant to celebrate that. The stories inside will involve photography, magazines, books, written family recipes, posters and more.
I hope reading these deeply personal stories, written by students who love printed things as much as I do, sparks or reignites a love for all things reading and writing within you. These stories warm my heart and we can’t wait to share them with you.
(But can also write)
The Print Issue is comprised of stories celebrating the importance of physical media. Check out this special issue’s stories from our contributing writers: