The Family Guide to Conversation


In the episode Proof of the Pudding, Felicity lectures from "The Family Guide," insisting that "bad behavior must be nipped in the bud!" The Family Guide is similar to many etiquette books of the time that outlined rules for proper behavior in society.

During this era, manners and etiquette were important and closely associated with wealth and status. "Good breeding and polite manners are very important," Felicity says in High Society. "How else can one improve their position in life?"

We begin an exploration of Family Guide style etiquette with the following Avonlea era conversation rules.


Money is never talked of in polite society; it is taken for granted.
~ The book of Good Manners, Mrs Burton Kingsland (1901)

It is a mark of ill-breeding to use French phrases or words, unless you are sure your companion is a French scholar, and, even then, it is best to avoid them. Above all, do not use any foreign word or phrase, unless you have the language perfectly at your command.
~The Ladies Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness
Florence Hartley (1860)

The etiquette of hand-shaking is simple. A man has no right to take a lady’s hand till it is offered.
~ The Habits of Good Society (1859)

The gentleman who shakes hands with great warmth and impressment are two distinct individuals; the one is cordial and large-hearted — the other wishes to ingratiate himself.
~ Manners and Rules of Good Society (1912)

To invariably commence a conversation by remarks on the weather shows a poverty of ideas that is truly pitiable.
~ Frost’s Laws and By-Laws of American Society
S.A. Frost, 1869

Some persons have a mania for Greek and Latin quotations; this is particularly to be avoided. It is like pulling up the stones from a tomb wherewith to kill the living.
~ Treasures of Science, History and Literature
Moses Falsom and J.D. O’Connor, 1879

To use a foreign phrase and then to translate it, is as much as to say your listeners are ignoramuses.
~ The Manners That Win
Anonymous, 1880

When asking questions about persons who are not known to you, in a drawing-room, avoid using adjectives; or you may enquire of a mother, ‘Who is that awkward, ugly girl?’ and be answered, ‘Sir, that is my daughter.’
~ The Gentleman’s Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness
Cecily B. Hartley, 1860

If you talk sentences, do not at the same time give yourself a magisterial air in doing it.
~ Martine’s Hand-Book of Etiquette
Arthur Martine, 1866

Do not, however much you may be pleased with any remark, cry out ‘Bravo!’ clap your hands, or permit any gesture, silent or otherwise, to mark your appreciation of it.
~ Frost’s Laws…
S.A. Frost, 1869

It is well said by a late eminent barrister, that literature in ladies should be what onions ought to be in cookery; you should perceive the flavor, but not detect the thing itself.
~ The Habits of Good Society
Anonymous, 1859

Immoderate laughter is exceedingly unbecoming in a lady; she may affect the dimple or the smile, but should carefully avoid any approximation to a horse-laugh.
~ The Perfect Gentleman
By a Gentleman, 1860

A lady-punster is a most unpleasing phenomenon, and we would advise no young woman, however witty she may be, to cultivate this kind of verbal talent.
~ Collier’s Cyclopedia
Compiled by Nugent Robinson, 1882

Never use the phrases, "What-d-ye call it," "Thingummy," "What's his name," or any such substitutes for a proper name or place. If you cannot recall the names you wish to use, it is better not to tell the story or incident connected with them. No lady of high breeding will ever use these substitutes in conversation.
~The Ladies Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness
Florence Hartley (1860)

Top 10 Road to Avonlea Hoaxes

Top 10 Road to Avonlea Hoaxes

A hoax is described as a humorous or malicious deception, often synonymous with a practical joke, trick or prank.  The series Road to Avonlea has it's share of hoaxes and pranks played on our unwitting villagers.  I was surprised with the sheer number of hoaxes and it was somewhat tough to narrow it down to the top ten.  So without further ado, the following list details the top 10 hoaxes from the series.

10. The Love Potion

Sara and Felix attempt to prevent Edwin Clark's plans to marry Olivia by seeking the help of Peg Bowen. The witch of Avonlea concocts a love potion that will force Olivia to become betrothed to the first unmarried man she sees. Their plan fails however, when Olivia drinks the potion and greets Felix at the door of Rose Cottage, rather than Jasper.

9. Mermaids are real?

Snibb's World Renowned Traveling Midway arrives in Avonlea and Davey is entranced by the mysterious Melusina, who claims to be a mermaid.  The woman is really named Trissy and she cons Donny Lester into giving her money.  It doesn't take long before Donny and Davey realize they have been conned.  When Hetty and Rachel find out, they are inexplicably shocked to find that the carnival is out to get their money! Irate townspeople storm the midway and Snibb is arrested.    

8. Magic seeds

Sara Stanley and Andrew King receive a rude welcome to Avonlea when their cousins send the duo plummeting through a trap door into a muddy pig stall.  The visiting cousins plan their revenge by giving Felix and Felicity magic seeds with the promise that if they wish upon them at night, their dreams will come true.  The seeds, of course, are a hoax that make the scheming Felix and Felicity look foolish.      

7. Davey is duped again

When Clive and Muriel announce their wedding, Davey and his friends plan to raise money to buy the couple a present. The troublesome Davey meets two ruffians, Hawk and Quint, who tricks the gullible boy into leaving money at the cemetery, promising that the profit will double the following day.  The foolish friends return the next day and find that the money is gone! Dora rushes to Davey's rescue and devises a plan to retrieve the money from the thieves.  

6. Marilla had a Beau

Marilla Cuthbert fabricates a beau named Duncan McTavish after village gossips pry into her romantic life. The consequence of Marilla's white lie results in disaster as the real Duncan McTavish arrives in Avonlea, which raises the suspicion of her long time friend Rachel Lynde.

5. The Sea Ghost Rises... Again

Cantankerous lighthouse keeper Ezekiel Crane recruits Gus Pike to help him pursue an elusive treasure.  The treasure hunt ends in a sea cave where Crane's rival, Captain Borden, plunges Crane into the depths and believes that he has the legendary treasure. To Gus's surprise, Crane faked his death and escaped with the real treasure, leaving Borden with an empty chest.

4. The End of the World

History is full of prophesies declaring that the world will end.  As a lunar eclipse approaches in the episode Vows of Silence, Felicity believes that judgement day is at hand and is encouraged to confess past wrongs.

3. Actor impersonates school teacher

Hetty resigns as school teacher after being criticized for pushing her students too hard for an upcoming history bee. An eccentric actor, Alistair Dimple, replaces Hetty and teaches the children through a method of play-acting and theatrics.  As the competition approaches, Alec discovers that Dimple was a total fraud without teaching credentials.

There have been many other imposters in Avonlea, including Jo Pitts as Sara Stanley, Simon Tremayne as a bellhop, Doyle E. Reichenback, various imposters from Zak Morgan's wild west show and even Sara Stanley as the long lost daughter of Callamity Jane!

2. Blair Stanley returns from the dead

Sara Stanley goes to a carnival where she encounters a fortune teller, Isis, who promises to reunite the Story Girl with her recently deceased father.  A seance is staged where Isis and her accomplice, Leo, pretend to evoke the spirit of Blair Stanley. When Sara discovers this elaborate hoax, she is kidnapped by the duo and held for ransom.  Alec heroically rides to Sara's rescue and the malicious con artists are sent to prison.

1. Felicity was switched At Birth

Sara and Felix devise a scheme, writing a letter stating that Felicity was switched at birth with Sally Potts. The hoax sends Felicity into an identity crisis and causes an uproar between the King and Potts families.  A panic ensues, which causes Janet King and Clara Potts to redefine their perspectives of motherhood.

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