With a joyous grin, a red-haired Anne Shirley beckons visitors to enter her home of stories within Prince Edward Island National Park.
"Welcome to Green Gables," costumed interpreter Allyson Ford as Anne said. "I am so glad you've decided to join me on a cordial visit."
Green Gables Heritage Place in Cavendish, P.E.I., is increasing its offerings as well as expanding the options for those visiting the Parks Canada site.
It is one way officials are hoping to help immerse people within the world that author Lucy Maud Montgomery created more than a century ago.
"Being asked to use your imagination and really delve into the world of Montgomery with Anne is such a unique experience," said Kassandra McKinnon, the interpretation co-ordinator at Green Gables.
"For folks to be in this space — in the Green Gables house — with the character herself is so meaningful for folks that have such a special connection with these novels."
A returning favourite is A Cordial Visit with Anne herself. Visitors are toured around the visitor centre with a guide, then met at Green Gables house and immersed in the fictional world with the storybook character.
The costumed interpretation program was put on hold in 2020 due to public health guidelines.
McKinnon said it is nice to be able to have the characters roaming the grounds once again.
"I find it really does bring the site to life," she said. "Having those costumed interpreters, having Anne Shirley, Gilbert on-site and being able to interact with visitors in a safe way really enhances the experience to Green Gables."
A new offering is called the Ropes Down Tour. Staff remove all the barriers and take people on an up close and more cosy tour.
"I've learned a lot about Anne from reading most of Montgomery's books and researching some of her other information from journals and biographies," said Micheal Nesbitt, who's been a heritage interpreter with Parks Canada for 10 years.
The experienced guides will tour the visitors around, able to answer questions and point out the smallest details that make up the heritage place.
Only the guides will be able to handle the artifacts within the home this year but Parks Canada hopes to expand that next season to allow guests to get even more hands on.
Visitors are able to sign up for the two expanded offerings online throughout the summer.
McKinnon said the staff are already seeing an increase in visitation to the site.
"Now that provincial borders are starting to ease travel restrictions, folks are being vaccinated and are travelling again," McKinnon said.
"I'm seeing that appetite for travel and it is really lovely to be interacting with tourists again."
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