The Case of Green Gables

In 1985, the Canadian network CBC aired a two part mini series about a feisty red-headed orphan with an over active imagination. Her name was Anne (spelled with an E) and she lived in the fictional town of Avonlea, in a house with green gables.

The series (or movie as it is also referred to) was based on the novel series Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Although there have been many adaptations of the classic story (Anne with an E for example), this version from 1985  is considered by many to be the best.

Hangout with us as we discuss how the series came to be, our favorite moments, and why the world fell in love with Anne Shirley.


  • The mini series first premiered on December 1st, 1985 on CBC
    • CBC is a Canadian English-language network owned by the Canadian Broadcast Corporation
  • The story is based on the children’s book Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
    • The book was first published in 1908, and the series is set around the same time
    • The story is set in Avonlea, a small town on Prince Edward Island in Canada; Although Avonlea is fictional, it is based on the real town Cavendish
    • Montgomery based the story on her own life as an orphan child that was brought up by her strict grandparents
      • The story begins when Anne, a talkative orphan girl with a wild imagination, gets mistakenly adopted by an elderly brother and sister on Prince Edward Island
        • This actually happened to Montgomery’s cousins, who sent for a boy and ended up with a girl
        • Montgomery insisted that the only similarities were that the orphan had red hair and that her cousins kept the child
      • As a child, she visited relatives who lived in a house with green gables, a house that still stands today and that people can visit
        • Hundreds of thousands of people have visited the house which is a historical Canadian landmark
        • A Washington Post article quoted Kyle McKinnon, a park operations manager there, in saying, “People are continually entranced by the story of a young girl who screwed up absolutely everything, but it all worked out.”
  • The Mini Series
    • The series starred Megan Follows as Anne, who beat out 3000 girls for the lead role; Colleen Dewhurst as Marilla, and Richard Farnsworth as Matthew
      • Megan Follows is still acting today, most recently in a show called October Faction that is in pre-production
        • She was 16 years old when she was cast as 12-year-old Anne
        • “My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes.”

      • Richard Farnsworth was a well-respected character actor (and Oscar nominated) that started his career as a stuntman on movies like Gone With the Wind
        • His last film credit was in 1999 in The Straight Story which was a Walt Disney film
      • Tony Award-winning Colleen Dewhurst played Marilla for the rest of her career in Anne of Avonlea and Avonlea before passing away in 1991; Although Farnsworth’s character of Matthew died before Marilla, Dewhurst passed away before Farnsworth
    • Katherine Hepburn was approached to play Marilla, but when she declined, she recommended her great niece Schuyler Grant for the role of Anne. Grant auditioned for the role, and they cast her as Diana, Anne’s best friend.
    • Jonathan Crombie also plays Gilbert Blythe, Anne’s love interest
      • He was cast in the role after a director discovered him in a school play
      • He was the voice of animated character Benjamin Bear
      • He passed away at the age of 48
    • Patricia Hamilton who plays Rachel Lynde is still alive
      • She played Rachel in the animated series and in a 2008 TV movie
  • Favorite quotes
    • I never wanted a boy. I only wanted you from the first day. Don’t ever change. I love my little girl. I’m so proud of my little girl.
    • That’s the one good thing about me. I never do the same wrong thing twice.
    • “It ain’t interfering to have an opinion”
    • And as for Christian virtue: making a little wine for a refreshment is far less sinful than meddling in other people’s affairs!
  • Thoughts on the story
    • “Young women are so often taught to make boys feel comfortable even when they’re being total assholes. And Anne just…doesn’t do that”
    • Anne is a great role model for young girls. She teaches to never sacrifice intelligence, and brings out the best in everyone by simply being herself.


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