Damage to trees at L.M. Montgomery's homestead 'heartbreaking'

Many trees on the property of Lucy Maud Montgomery's Cavendish, P.E.I., family home were destroyed when post-tropical storm Dorian hit the Island over the weekend.

A sign on the path leading to the home has a quote from the Island author.

"I am grateful that my childhood was spent in a spot where there were many trees.... When I have lived with a tree for many years it seems to me like a beloved human companion."

Behind it, trees that had stood for more than 60 years lay on the ground.

"I knew we would have some trees down because we do have a lot of old, old trees on-site but I didn't expect to come to see this much destruction," said David Macneill, Montgomery's first cousin twice removed. 

Tom Steepe/CBC

He is one of the family members that manage the homestead property in Cavendish where Montgomery lived from 1876 to 1911. He has worked on the site for the past 18 years with the family.

"Pretty much almost brought me to tears, to be honest," Macneill said.

"My family has worked so hard to preserve this site over the years and we are designated as a national historic site."

Tom Steepe/CBC

He said part of the charm of the site was the old trees that surrounded the old cellar. Most of the trees, Macneill said, were balm of Gilead poplars that were between 60 and 80 years old.

He estimates that out of the roughly 20 trees on the property, only three or four were left standing.

One that was spared was an old apple tree that is thought to be around 100 years old. 

Tom Steepe/CBC

"We were just very fortunate that some of these big old trees did not fall directly on top of it. They fell all around it but did not hit it so maybe there's some divine intervention there," Macneill said.

Some of the fallen trees ended up on the back of the bookstore. The old kitchen that had been brought back to the property in the spring was unscathed.

Tom Steepe/CBC

Macneill said they are still assessing the damage but hopes to replant some trees to replace them in the spring.

"Montgomery was a huge fan of the trees," said Macneill. 

"You do become familiar with all the old trees on the property so to see this, it's pretty heartbreaking."

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