The Avonlea Chronicle Blog

A Blog and musings for the series Road to Avonlea

Peter Craig was destined to be the lead male protagonist of the series Road to Avonlea. Lucy Maud Montgomery intended for the hired boy to improve his social standing, become a minister, and marry Felicity King. Instead, he sadly faded from the series and was replaced by another poor yet noble outsider, Gus Pike.

So what went wrong?  Was the wrong actor chosen?  Was the writing insufficient?  Was it a lack of fan support?  Who is to blame for the failure of Montgomery’s number one choice for leading male character and the future husband of Felicity King?

Would Anne fans accept it if Gilbert Blythe was easily dismissed as a weakling and replaced with a strapping Sullivan-picked new comer in ‘Anne of Green Gables?’  

Of course not! Anne fans would rise up and revolt with pitch forks and torches in hand! There would be scholarly outcries of “desecration” and wailings that Sullivan ruined Montgomery’s revered work.

So why aren't Road to Avonlea fans outraged about the dismissal of Peter Craig?

Peter Craig, Felicity King and Cecily King from ConversionsDuring the Story Girl’s prophesies in ‘The Golden Road,’ Sara says that Peter will become a minister and that Felicity will marry a minister. This story draws closely from Montgomery's own life and her marriage to a minister. Lucy Maud Montgomery and Reverend Ewen Macdonald were married in 1911, the same year that 'The Story Girl' was released.

Peter Craig is one of the rare male protagonists to receive positive criticism from Montgomery scholars. According to Dr. Elizabeth Epperly, “Peter Craig, the hired boy, stands out as one of the most convincing boys Montgomery created.“

When we first encounter Peter in the Montomgery books, he is described as "a slim, shapely fellow, with laughing black eyes and thick black curls."  His description and social status appears amazingly similar to the first impressions of Gus Pike:

Early in the season as it was, he was barefooted. His attire consisted of a faded, gingham shirt and a scanty pair of corduroy knickerbockers; but he wore it with such an unconscious air of purple and fine linen that he seemed to be much better dressed than he really was.

Peter Craig and Sara StanleyThe origins of Peter Craig are generally consistent with the depictions in Montgomery works.  While his mother is a washer and his father is absent, Peter earns his keep as a hired hand at Rose Cottage. Similar to the first impressions of Gus Pike, Peter lacks social sophistication and is described as “belligerent” with “no filter.”   

Similar to Felicity's first impression of Gus Pike, she considers Peter Craig to be nothing more than a hired boy.  This becomes clear in an early reference to Peter in 'The Story Girl':

“He is your Uncle Roger’s handy boy,” said Uncle Alec. “His name is Peter Craig, and he is a real smart little chap. But he’s got his share of mischief, that same lad.”

“He wants to be Felicity’s beau,” said Dan slyly.

“Don’t talk silly nonsense, Dan,” said Aunt Janet severely.

Felicity tossed her golden head and shot an unsisterly glance at Dan.  “I wouldn’t be very likely to have a hired boy for a beau,” she observed.

In ‘The Story Girl,’ Sara asks Felicity why Peter is “sulking” in the granary. Felicity explains that Peter tried to kiss her and she “boxed” his tingling ears “good and hard.”

“I don’t know about his feelings,” said Felicity, with an angry toss of her shining head, “but I guess I made his ears tingle all right. I boxed them both good and hard.”

“Oh, Felicity! What for?”

“Well, he tried to kiss me, that’s what for!” said Felicity, turning very red. “As if I would let a hired boy kiss me!”

Peter Craig from ConversionsSara says that Peter is “sulking” in the granary, but he is not crying and broken like he is in ‘Conversions.’  For some strange reason, writer Patricia Watson portrays Peter Craig as an incredibly weak character and not the bold resourceful character from the Montgomery literature. Instead of taking problems on head first, Peter is completely incompetent.  

Was the actor who played Peter Craig, Miklos Perlus, too weak to play the leading male protagonist? We may never know as he was never given a chance.  

As a result of Watson's weak characterization, Peter Craig never recovers his true purpose in the series as Montgomery's choice for leading male protagonist and Felicity's future beau.  Ironically, this "sulking" incident in 'The Story Girl' leads into Sara’s telling of “How Kissing Was Discovered”--The identically titled episode that launched the romance between Gus and Felicity.    

In both 'Conversions' and the Montgomery works, Peter becomes deathly ill.  The King children procur a remedy from Peg Bowen that helps cure the sickly boy.  

Peter Craig and Peg Bowen from ConversionsInexplicably, Peg Bowen's empathy for Peter is never fully explained in the series, outside the implication that both Peg and Peter are fellow outsiders marginalized by their peers.  Montgomery's works however, paint a clearer picture of this relationship.  According to the Story Girl, Peg Bowen was the beau of Peter's father, Jack Craig--which explains Peg's almost maternal protectiveness. Why the series chose not to explain this relationship is unknown.

Peter's sickness brings the King family together and softens Felicity's criticism toward the hired boy.  

Peter gets a tree in ConversionsThe final moments of Conversions show the King family gathered in the orchard and presenting Peter with a tree in his honor. The scene plays out more like a funeral for Peter Craig, as the character would never overcome the stigmatism of this episode.

Peter and Maud CraigOther than his appearance in Conversions, Peter appears sporadically throughout the first and second seasons and his eventual departure has no real significance and receives no fan fare.  The Montgomery literature takes a more endearing approach as it's explained that Peter will leave for Markdale to live with his reunited parents. In one passage, Felicity expresses that she will miss the boy for whom she has found great affection:

“But you must come and see us often,” said Felicity graciously.  Markdale isn’t so far away, and you could spend every other Saturday afternoon with us anyway.”

Peter’s black eyes filled with adoring gratitude.

“That’s so kind of you, Felicity. I’ll come as often as I can, of course;

Peter's adoration for Felicity is clearly realized in his poem for her on her birthday.  Peter writes:

Oh maiden fair with golden hair
And brow of purest white,
Id fight for you I’d die for you
Let me be your faithful knite.

Peter and Maud CraigIn the series however, Peter is not Felicity's shining knight.  By the time Peter Craig returns in ‘Aunt Janet Rebels,’ he is simply used as a plot device after his mother, Maud Craig, is depicted as a victim suffragette.  It is Sara who encourages Peter to visit Margaret McCorkndale to convince her to take action against her husband's unfairness. Peter is apparently too incompetent to come up with a plan by himself.   

Peter Craig and Sara Stanley in Aunt Janet RebelsWhen they confront Margaret McCorkndale, it is Sara who mostly speaks and defends Maud Craig while Peter stands dumbfounded nearby like a broken character stripped of his own voice.  By this time, the boy can't even defend his poor mother!  This is sadly that last time we see Peter Craig in the series.

Unlike the series, Montgomery's Peter Craig stood up for himself and his friends.  After Felicity is mortified for accidently using tooth powder in the rusk for the Governor," Peter "manfully" defends his future beau.  “The rusks were splendid, anyhow, so what difference does it make what they were raised with?”  He scorns the Story Girl.

Peter and FelicityWhen the fearsome Peg Bowen tells Felicity that her complexion will be too red similar to her mothers, Peter retorts "Well, that’s better than being the colour of mud."  Throughout the books, Peter is defending his ladies honor.

By the second season and the realization that Road to Avonlea would continue as an ongoing series, it became apparant that a strong male protagonist in the spirit of Gilbert Blythe was missing.    

Peter Craig and Edward RayThe producers seemed to realize the mistake they made with Peter and corrected it with the the emergence of Gus Pike.  Despite all the terrible things that happened to Gus, he never cried in the corner or shrunk from a challenge. Gus would also stand up to and for Felicity.

The writers accomplished with Gus what they failed miserably with Peter - creating a strong dynamic male protagonist to carry the main romantic arc of the series.  

felicity madMontgomery's Peter Craig possesses many of the same traits that are later replicated with the emergence of Gus Pike: poor manners, a low social status, an outsider mystique, a drunken father, and a perchance to embarrass Felicity with scandalous behavior.

The Gus Pike character is now so firmly rooted in the hearts and minds of Avonlea viewers that it's hard to believe that his bare feet never stepped foot in Montgomery's King orchard and he never met Felicity, Sara or the other King children.

Peter CraigIt's hard to acknowledge that Gus Pike simply didn't exist in the Story Girl's world.

It's unlikely the series will ever be rebooted.  As Montgomery critics have pointed out, the Story Girl never really had a story or plot--an unappealing quality to pitch to television producers and investors.  Sadly, Peter Craig will likely never become what Sara prophesized in these closing passages from 'The Golden Road':

“Peter will be a minister,” went on the Story Girl.

“Felicity,” resumed the Story Girl gravely, “will marry a minister.”

Sara Ray giggled and Felicity blushed. Peter tried hard not to look too self-consciously delighted.

“She will be a perfect housekeeper and will teach a Sunday School class and be very happy all her life.”

“Will her husband be happy?” queried Dan solemnly.

“I guess he’ll be as happy as your wife,” retorted Felicity reddening.

“He’ll be the happiest man in the world,” declared Peter warmly.

So let's lift our glasses one last time and bid farewell to Peter Craig - The bold proud unsung hero  and shining knight of the Story Girl.

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Ryan B. recently made an awesome post in the 'After the Honeymoon' comments section.  While reading Bright Particular Stars: Canadian Performers," he found that RH Thomson and Kate Nelligan briefly dated while studying together in England.

I read about this a while back but forgot about it until recently.  Nelligan confided about this relationship In a 1992 Toronto Star Article:  

"He'll kill me for this.  When I was 17 or 18, Rob was my boyfriend, and I haven't seen him since. I've seen some his work - (the miniseries) Glory Enough For All - but the last time we were together we were doing some play in Middle-English, at university, I think. Something no one but the actors could possibly understand."

Interestingly, there was also a connection between Thomson and Mag Ruffman (Oliva King/Dale) before the series started.  Mag and Thomson were neighbors when they grew up in Richmond Hill and Mag even admitted having a crush on Thomson!

These unique relationships between the actors perhaps was the most interesting part of the otherwise lack luster episode "After the Honeymoon."

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There were several weddings depicted throughout the series Road to Avonlea--the most prominent being Gus and Felicity, and Jasper and Olivia. But there is one burning question--does the series accurately reflect marriages from the Edwardian time period or are these marriages filtered through the lens of our modern perspectives? In the Avonlea age passages below, the Family Guide explores the rules and expectations for Edwardian marriage.


sewingThe groom kindly shows his new bride to her work station

The Domestic Sewing Machine

The very best Sewing-Machine a man can have is a Wife. It is one that requires but a kind word to set it in motion, rarely gets out of repair, makes but little noise, is seldom the cause of dust, and, once in motion, will go on uninterruptedly for hours, without the slightest trimming, or the smallest personal supervision being necessary…

If it does get out of order a little, from being over-worked, it mends itself by being left alone for a short time, after which it returns to its sewing with greater vigor than ever… The sewing Machine may be pronounced perfect of its kind; so much so, that there is no make-shift in the world that can possible replace it, either for love or money. In short, no gentleman’s establishment is complete without one of these Sewing Machines in the house!”
~ Punch, 1859

placeA Woman's Place in the Home

Woman not being permitted by our present social arrangements and conventional rules, to procure a livelihood through her own exertions, is compelled to unite herself with some one who can provide for her; therefore in contracting matrimony she thinks principally of this necessary requisite…

Man, on the other hand… seeks to find in his wife, a sort of upper servant, or female valet, who is to wait upon him, attend to his wants, instinctively anticipate his wishes, and study his comfort, and who is to live for the sole purpose of seeing him well-fed, well-lodged, and well pleased.”
~ Anne Richelieu Lamb - Can Women Regenerate Society?, 1844

comfortableA comfortable home

I have always thought that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife’s badly cooked dinner and untidy ways. Men are so well-served out of doors—in their well ordered taverns and dining-places—that in order to compete with the attractions of these places a mistress must be thoroughly acquainted with the theory and practice of cookery as well as be perfectly conversant with all the other arts of making and keeping a comfortable home.
~ Mrs. Beeton - Household Management preface, 1861.

"...likely to go on the spree"

keptThe well kept house

The man who goes home from his work on a Saturday only to find his house in disorder, with every article of furniture out of its place, the floor unwashed or sloppy from uncompleted washing, his wife slovenly, his children untidy, his dinner not yet ready or spoilt in the cooking, is much more likely to go “on the spree” than the man who finds his house in order, the furniture glistening from the recent polishing, the burnished steel fire-irons looking doubly resplendent from the bright glow of the cheerful fire, his well-cooked dinner ready laid on a snowy cloth, and children tidy and cheerful.
~ Thomas Wright, Some Habits and Customs of the Working Classes - “by a Journeyman Engineer”, 1867

"There is something so unpleasant in female self-sufficiency"

A woman's domestic character

The sentiment for woman has undergone a change. The romantic passion, which once almost deified her, is on the decline; and it is by intrinsic qualities that she must now inspire respect.

A woman may make a man’s home delightful, and may thus increase his motives for virtuous exertion. She may refine and tranquilize his mind—may turn away his anger, or allay his grief. Where want of congeniality impairs domestic comfort, the fault is generally chargeable on the female side; for it is for woman, not for man, to make the sacrifice, especially in indifferent matters. She must, in a certain degree, be plastic herself, if she would mold others, and this is one reason why very good women are sometimes very uninfluential. They do a great deal, but they yield nothing…

In everything that women attempt, they should show their consciousness of dependence. There is something so unpleasant in female self-sufficiency, that it not infrequently prejudices instead of persuading. Their sex should ever teach them to be subordinate; and they should remember that, by them, influence is to be obtained, not by assumption, but by a delicate appeal to affection or principle. Women, in this respect, are something like children: the more they show their need of support, the more engaging they are.
~ Mrs. John Sandford - Woman in her Social and Domestic Character, 1837.

Health and neuralgia

A women was urged to have her daughters work with her… learning the whole round of the neat housekeeper’s duties. When this is done, we may expect better housekeepers, made from well-developed girls—women with muscles, bones, and nerves—with a smaller number of the victims Of that freakish and horrid disease, neuralgia, and, as a natural and legitimate result, a healthier, wiser and happier race.”
~ Godey’s, 1876

electric brush

Ads like Scott's Electric Brush promised to relieve Neuralgia by applying a gentle current of electricity to the head.

Separate beds

It is considered far more healthful for grown people to occupy different beds. The air which surrounds the body under the bed clothing is exceedingly impure, being impregnated with the poisonous substances which escaped through the pores of the skin. Celebrated physicians have condemned the double bed.
~ Elizabeth F. Holt, From Attic to Cellar, 1892


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Breaking News! This just in... From 1911!

One of the most tragic moments in the series occurred when Felicity discovered that Gus lost his sight in the episode Return to Me.  While relieved that he survived the Maid of Calais sinking, Gus Pike's blindness was quite a sad sight (forgive the pun).  Despite this tragic revelation, there was a light at the end of the tunnel.  In the episode So Dear to My Heart,  a risky surgery ensued and Gus regained partial vision. 

In my research of the Edwardian era, I learned that this risky and costly surgery was completely unnecessary!  While looking through Avonlea age advertisements, I discovered this gem--The Ideal Sight Restorer - The Inestimable Blessing of Sight.  

ideal sight restorer

Offered through mail order by the Ideal Company from New York circa 1900,  the product boasts that customers can "avoid spectacles and eye glasses, headaches and surgical operation." 

sight restorer2According to the Museum of Vision, the Ideal Sight Restorer was invented by masseur Charles Tyrell and used "suction to increase blood flow and reshape the cornea."  The Ideal company was investigated by the American Medical Association who had the nerve to call this amazing device a "pseudomedical claptrap!"  Harassed and threatened by legal prosecution, the Ideal Company was forced to relocate to to England in 1915.

If only Gus and the King family would have seen this advertisement, it would have saved them a lot of unnecessary worry and concern--and provided Gus with that "blessing of sight!"

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It has come to my attention that some fans watch Road to Avonlea for the romantic relationships between the characters.  One blossoming relationship in particular between Gus and Felicity appears to have generated avid interest and has consistently pushed the Avonlea Guides' sap meter to the limit.  My arm twisted, I reluctantly bring you the latest installment of the Family Guide on the etiquette and manners of courtship.


honeyCourtship! Its theme, how delightful!  Its memories and associations, how charming! Its luxuries the most luxurious proffered to mortals!  How great are the pleasures of sight, motion, breathing!  How much greater those of mind!  Yet a right love surpasses them all; and can render us all happier than our utmost imaginations can depict; and a wrong more miserable.
~ Social Etiquette, or: Manners and Customs of Polite Society, By Maud C. Cooke, 1896

The girls of the twentieth century are making a great mistake in surrendering their proud prerogative of being courted. It is in man's nature to sigh for the unattainable.  The fruit just ready to drop from the bough is seldom prized.  
~ Good Manners for all Occasions: A Practical Manual – Margaret Sangster

It is now held by many that the prudent and modest maiden should not even allow her lover, (even after their engagement), to kiss her.  Not until after marriage should such a favor be granted.”
~ Modern Manners and Social Forms. Julia M. Bradley, 1889.

“It is a sign of low-breeding to fidget with the hat, cane or parasol during a call.  They are introduced merely as signs that the caller is in walking dress, and are not intended, the hat to be whirled round the top of the cane, the cane to be employed in tracing out the pattern of the carpet, or the parasol to be tapped on the teeth, or worse still, sucked.”
~ Frost’s Laws and By-Laws of American Society
S.A. Frost, 1869.

courtship“When bent on paying calls, first don one of your prettiest gowns, then arm yourself with a liberal supply of small-talk and sally forth unafraid.”
~ Etiquette for Women
G.R.M. Devereux, 1902.    

“Visitors should furnish themselves with cards.  Gentlemen ought simply to put their cards into their pocket, but ladies may carry them in a small elegant portfolio, called a card-case.  This they can hold in their hand and it will contribute essentially (with elegant handkerchief of embroidered cambric,) to give them an air of good taste.”
~ Decorum
Anonymous, 1877.

“If you pay a lady a compliment, let it drop from your lips as if it were the accidental and unconscious expression of a profound truth.”
~ The Standard Book on Politeness, Good Behavior and Social Etiquette. Anonymous, 1884.

“It is not the correct thing for a lady to refuse the invitation of one gentleman, and then accept that of another for the same dance.  Duels have been fought for smaller matters than this.”
~ The Correct Thing in Good Society
Florence Howe Hall, 1902.   

The church is not the proper place to conduct a courtship.
~ Search Lights on Health
Prof. B. G. Jefferies and J. L. Nichols, 1896

readNo well bred lady will too eagerly receive the attentions of a gentlemen, no matter how much she admires him; nor, on the other hand, will she be so reserved as to altogether discourage him.
~ Our Deportment: The Manners, Conduct and Dress of the Most Refined Society, 1882

It is only the contemptible flirt that keeps an honorable man in suspense for the purpose of glorifying herself by his attentions in the eyes of friends. Nor would any but a frivolous or vicious girl boast of the offer she has received and rejected.
~ Our Deportment: The Manners, Conduct and Dress of the Most Refined Society, 1882

It is very injudicious, not to say presumptuous, for a gentleman to make a proposal to a young lady on too brief acquaintance. A lady who would accept a gentleman at first sight can hardly possess the discretion needed to make a good wife.
~ Our Deportment: The Manners, Conduct and Dress of the Most Refined Society, 1882

“To keep a lady’s company six months is a public announcement of an engagement.”  
~ Search Lights on Health, Prof. B.G. Jefferies and J.L. Nichols, 1896.

Don’t marry the woman who reads novels, and dreams of being a duchess or countess, or the wife of a multi-millionaire.
~ Don’ts for Everybody. Compiled by Frederic Reddale, 1907.

Don’t marry any female who is too young… Nor any woman who has a red nose, at any age; because people make observations as you go along the street.
Search Lights on Health
~ Prof. B. G. Jefferies and J. L. Nichols, 1896

“A timid woman should never marry a hesitating man, lest, like frightened children, each keep perpetually re-alarming the other by imaginary fears.”
Search Lights on Health
~ Prof. B. G. Jefferies and J. L. Nichols, 1896


“If you would have a serene old age never woo a girl who keeps a diary.”
~ The Cynic’s Rules of Conduct
Chester Field, Jr. 1905.

“If a woman… has had more than four husbands, she poisons them,--avoid her.”
~ The American Chesterfield. Lord Chesterfield, 18—

Don’t be continually talking about what a great beau you were in your younger days.  That you are still unmarried is sufficient evidence that you were, at least, an unsuccessful one.”
~ Don’ts for Everybody. Compiled by Frederic Reddale, 1907.

Don’t talk about your ‘conquests.’  It sounds silly. Leave it to silly girls.  Silliness is excusable in young girls, but not in old maids.”
~ Don’ts for Everybody. Compiled by Frederic Reddale, 1907.


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While addressing the young woman's colloquium for social betterment in Vows of Silence, Felicity instructs her attendees on proper manners, etiquette and fashion for ladies in society. "Close your mouths," she scorns the uncouth girls, "you look like a bunch of ignorant country girls!"

Felicity's lectures on decorum are similar to the advice from popular etiquette books of the Victorian and Edwardian era. We continue our exploration of Family Guide style etiquette with these Avonlea age addages on how to be a proper lady.


mirrorA lady, when crossing the street, must raise her dress a bit above the ankle while holding the folds of her gown together in her right hand and drawing them toward the right. It was considered vulgar to raise the dress with both hands as it would show too much ankle, but was tolerated for a moment when the mud is very deep.
~ The Lady's Guide to Perfect Gentility.

A lady does not form acquaintances upon the street, or seek to attract the attention of the other sex, or of persons of her own sex. Her conduct is always modest and unassuming. Neither does a lady demand services or favors from gentlemen. She accepts them graciously, always expressing her thanks.
~ Social Etiquette, or: Manners and Customs of Polite Society, By Maud C. Cooke

A lady should conquer a habit of breathing hard, or coming in very hot, or even looking very blue and shivery.
~ The Habits of Good Society (1859)

The low-necked dress is a fatal lure to many a woman who ought to know better than to display her physical imperfections to the gaze of a pitiless world.
Our Manners and Social Customs
Daphne Dale, 1891

operaA beautiful head of hair is no insignificant item in a girl’s dowry.
~ Modern Manners and Social Forms, Julia M. Bradley, 1889

If a gentleman requests the pleasure of a lady’s company to the opera, she has no right to turn that expected pleasure into a pain and mortification by presenting herself with tumbled hair, ill-chosen dress, badly-fitting gloves and an atmosphere of cheap and offensive perfumes.
The Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Etiquette
Mrs. E.B. Duffey, 1877

A lady should wear neither bracelet nor necklace when walking in the street.
The Correct Thing in Good Society
Florence Howe Hall, 1902

Economy in gloves is an insult to society.
Frost’s Laws and By-Laws of American Society
S.A. Frost, 1869

In the female beauty of physical development there is nothing that can equal full breasts… All false forms are easily detected, because large natural ones will generally quiver and move at every step, while the artificial ones will manifest no expression of life.
Search Lights on Health
Prof. B.G. Jefferis and J.L. Nichols, 1896

Large hats make little women look like mushrooms…
Everyday Etiquette
Marion Harland and Virginia Van de Water, 1907

A beautiful eyelash is an important adjunct to the eye. The lashes may be lengthened by trimming them occasionally in childhood. Care should be taken that this trimming is done neatly and evenly, and especially that the points of the scissors do not penetrate the eye.
Our Deportment
Compiled by John H. Young, 1881

glovesSome young ladies have a bad habit of biting their fingers, especially if they rejoice in handsome hands; and the same ladies, by way of variety, are prone to bite the corners of books, and the edges of closed fans. So it is dangerous to trust these articles in their vicinity. We have seen the corners of an elegant Annual nearly bitten off at a centre-table in the course of one evening.
Miss Leslie’s Behavior Book
Miss Leslie,1859

Dark Hair becomes lighter by being kept uncovered, especially in moonlight.
Of the Government and Conduct of Women
Francesco da Barberino, 13--; translated by W.M. Rossetti, 1869

White furs should only be worn by experienced skaters, for they easily become soiled by the novitiate in tumbles upon the ice.
The Ladies’ and Gentleman’s Etiquette
Mrs. E.B. Duffey, 1877

A lady who has a secure seat is never prettier than when in the saddle, and she who cannot make her conquests there, may despair of the power of her charms elsewhere.
The Manners That Win
Anonymous, 1880

parosolFor a young lady to be seen walking alone is undesirable. If she cannot walk with her younger sisters and their governess, or the maid cannot be spared to walk with her, she had better stay at home or confine herself to the square garden.
The Manners of the Aristocracy
By one of themselves, 18—

Ladies should not cross the ball-room alone.  It invites attention.
Social Etiquette
Maud C. Cook, 18—

“No lady will be guilty of the vulgarity of sucking the head of her parasol in the street.”
Frost’s Laws and By-Laws of American Society
S. A. Frost, 1869

What are you doing? Sucking the head of your parasol! Have you not breakfasted? Take that piece of ivory from your mouth! To suck it is unlady-like, and let me tell you, excessively unbecoming.
The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness
Florence Hartley, 1873

It is hardly necessary for us to say that no modest, well-bred woman, will wear the close fitting and abbreviated costumes sometimes seen, alas! With too evident an intent to display one’s charms. The legs and sleeves should be long, the neck high, and the costume loose and full.
Modern Manners and Social Forms
Julia M. Bradley, 1889

It is a breach of etiquette for a lady to touch her baggage in a hotel after it is packed. There are plenty of servants to attend to it, and they should carry to the hack even the traveling-shawl, satchel, and railway novel. Nothing looks more awkward than to see a lady, with both hands full, stumbling up the steps of a hotel hack.
Frost’s Laws…
S.A. Frost, 1869

camille“There are good physiological reasons why the incessant chewing of anything is injurious, and it certainly is not in good taste to see persons in school or other public places with their mouths full of gum or wax, and apparently in laborious exercise. Such rumination is very unbecoming on the street, and, if observed,would give rise to serious doubts whether the ruminant be a lady or not.”
Good Morals and Gentle Manners
Alex M. Gow, 1873

“It is especially the duty of ladies to look after other ladies younger or less experienced than themselves who may be treaveling without escort. To watch these and see that they are not made the dupes of villains, and to pass a pleasant word with others who may possibly feel the loneliness of their situation should be the especial charge of every lady of experience.”
Social Culture
Anonymous, 1903.

Every well-sexed woman invariably throws her shoulders back and breasts forward as if she would render them conspicuous, and further signifies sensuality by way of a definite rolling motion of the posterior.
Orson Squire Fowler, Sexual Science, 1870

All well-sexed maidens enter womanhood with a plump, luscious bust, which usually shrivels gradually till it almost disappears by age twenty.
~ Orson Squire Fowler, Sexual Science, 1870


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In Aunt Hetty's Ordeal, Miss King is alarmed by Gus Pike's ruffian behavior and strives to teach him proper manners. She lends him a book "How to Be A Gentleman" that demonstrates how to dress properly, comb your hair, greet people in public, and most importantly--how to hold your pinky finger in the air!  The following Family Guide style excerpts demonstrate manners and etiquette for the Edwardian gentleman.


arrow1A gentleman faultlessly gloved cannot go far wrong.
Social Etiquette
Maud C. Cooke, 18-

“Very big canes are in very bad taste, especially for young men.”
How to Behave and How to Amuse
G.H. Sandison, 1895

A man who is badly dressed, feels chilly, sweaty, and prickly.  He stammers, and does not always tell the truth.  He means to, perhaps, but he can’t.       
Search Light on Health
Prof. B.G. Jefferis and J.L. Nichols, 1896

“Don’t dress like a ‘dude,’ or a ‘swell,’ nor carry a little poodle dog (a man’s glory is in his strength and manliness—not in aping silly girls), nor cock your hat on one side, nor tip it back on your head (let it sit straight and square), nor wear anything conspicuous or that will make you offensive to others.”
Modern Manners and Social Forms
Julia M. Bradley, 1889.

A man with a trivial nose should not wear a large moustache.  Doing so will increase the insignificance of his insignificant nose… Sometimes the end of a man’s moustache are visible to persons walking behind him.  This imparts to him a belligerent, aggressive air, that makes small children refrain from asking him the time, and saves him from being asked the way by puzzled pedestrians.
Etiquette for Every Day
Mrs. Humphry, 1904

A gentleman should never attempt to step over a lady’s train; he should go around it.
As Others See Us
Anonymous, 1890

If a gentleman is walking with two ladies in a rain storm, and there is but one umbrella, he should give it to his companions and walk outside.  Nothing can be more absurd than to see a gentleman walking between two ladies holding an umbrella which perfectly protects himself, but half deluges his companions with its dripping streams.
Our Deportment
Compiled by John H. Young, 1881

If a lady and gentleman are walking arm in arm, they should keep step. The gentleman must adapt his long stride to her shorter steps, else they have a curious appearance.
Polite Society At Home and Abroad
Mrs. Annie R. White, 1891

To look back at one who has passed, even if she has on a new dress which does not fit in the back, is not polite.
The Manners That Win
Anonymous, 1880

gentleman sm1A gentleman will not stand on the street corners, or in hotel doorways, or club windows, and gaze impertinently at ladies as they pass by.  This is the exclusive business of loafers, upon which well-bred men will not trespass.
-Social Etiquette, or: Manners and Customs of Polite Society, By Maud C. Cooke, 1896

A gentleman visitor who neither shoots, fishes, boats, reads, writes letters, nor does anything but hang about, letting himself be ‘amused,’ is an intolerable nuisance.  He had better go to the billiard room and practice caroms by himself; or retire to the stables and smoke.
Manners and Social Usages
Mrs. John Sherwood, 1897

On the road, the constant care of the gentleman should be to render the ride agreeable to his companion, by the pointing out of objects of interest with which she may not be acquainted, the reference to any peculiar beauty of landscape which may have escaped her notice, and a general lively tone of conversation, which will, if she be timid, draw her mind from the fancied dangers of horseback riding, and render her excursion much more agreeable than if she be left to imaging horrors whenever her horse may prick up his ears or whisk his tail.
The Gentlemen’s Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness
Cecily B. Hartley, 1860

No gentleman is guilty of smoking when walking or riding with a lady.  It leaves the impression with others that she is of secondary importance to his cigar.
Polite Society At Home and Abroad
Mrs. Annie R. White, 1891

It is not the correct thing for two gentlemen who have collided in the waltz, or who have caused their partners to do so, to glare silently and wrathfully at each other.
The Correct Thing in Good Society
Florence Howe Hall, 1902

A man, … whether he aspires to be a gentleman or not, should learn to box. There are but few rules… , strike out, strike straight, strike sudden. Two gentlemen never fight; the art of boxing is brought into use in punishing a stronger and more impudent fellow of a class beneath your own.
~ The Habits of Good Society (1859)

The power to deliver a good scientific blow may be of inestimable value under certain extreme circumstances…” for a “man may come upon some ruffian insulting a woman in the streets; and in such cases a blow settles the matter.”  “Never assail an offender with words, nor when you strike him, use such expressions as, ‘Take that.’  
The Habits of Good Society, 1859

boatingGentleman unaccustomed to the management of a boat should never venture out with ladies.  To do so is foolhardy, if not criminal...  Men who cannot swim should never take ladies upon the water.
-Social Etiquette, or: Manners and Customs of Polite Society, By Maud C. Cooke, 1896

Great care must be taken not to splash the ladies, either in the first dipping the oars or subsequently.  Neither should anything be done to cause them fright.
-Social Etiquette, or: Manners and Customs of Polite Society, By Maud C. Cooke, 1896


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It was an offer he couldn't refuse... Too bad it was never offered.

In February 1992, Road to Avonlea director George Bloomfeld told the Ottawa Citizen that he got Al Pacino his first film role in the independent movie "The Panic in Needle Park." Bloomfeld recommended Pacino after seeing him in an off-Broadway play.

Pacino would go on to build a career playing brooding and angry characters, prone to explosive outbursts. His roles included the The Godfather (1972), Dog Day Afternoon (1975) and Scarface (1983). In 1992 Pacino received an Academy Award for Best Actor in 'Scent of A Woman.' The American Film Institute awarded him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

Years later Pacino told Bloomfeld that he owed him one after a chance run-in at their agent's office. "I've often thought," says Bloomfield, "maybe I should bring him back to do a Road To Avonlea with me."

Unfortunately, the offer was never presented and the actor would never grace Avonlea's red roads. Nevertheless, it would have been interesting to see Pacino play a tantilizing role like the cantankerous Ezekiel Crane, the bitter Roger King, or the corrupt Judson Parker.

In the spirit of writer Raymond Storey, here are a few episode ideas:


Scent of a Woman of Importance

godfathers and sons

Godfathers and Sons

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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)


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For one brief moment last February, it appeared that Road to Avonlea special guest star Faye Dunaway was about to award Best Picture to a film starring former Avonlea alumni Ryan Gosling.  Instead, Dunaway and her co-announcer Warren Beatty were handed the wrong card, announced the wrong winner, and were immortalized in the most controversial moment in Academy Awards history.

Faye Dunaway in Bonney and ClydeFaye Dunaway played Countess Polenska in the episode "What A Tangled Web We Weave" and  Gosling played the troubled Bret McNulty in the seventh season episode "From Away."  Prior to her Avonlea appearance, Dunaway won Best Actress in a Leading Role for her excellent performance in Network (1976) and was nominated for this same award for her iconic performance in Bonnie and Clyde (1967).

Despite the success and skill of these two actors, both episodes are ranked in the bottom ten least favorite Road to Avonlea episodes with Gosling's 'From Away' being the worst all time.

Dunaway received a lot of flack during her stay in Avonlea for her cosmetic products, her unusual behavior in the Bloor and Younge incident, and for the outright lackluster episode.  Despite these criticisms, I feel sympathy for Ms. Dunaway and want to point out a few positives.

Unlike Sarah Polley, Dunaway never spoke bad about Road to Avonlea.  And while most actors were oblivious to the series (Bruce Greenwood doesn't even remember that he was on the show), she is one of the few special guest stars that praised Avonlea before stepping foot on the set.  Furthermore, Dunaway didn't complain when she was given the terrible script for 'Tangled Web.'

Dunaway shouldn't be blamed for the Oscar debacle and she is not at fault for her lack luster appearance on Road to Avonlea.

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We follow our post Top 10 Road to Avonlea Hoaxes by stepping outside the series and taking a look at hoaxes perpetrated during the heyday of Hetty's generation--The Victorian era.

P.T. Barnum was once alleged to have said that "there is a sucker born every minute," and Davey Keith certainly fits that description.  In the epsode Davey and the Mermaid, the unwitting Davey Keith visits Snibb's Midway and believes that Melusina the mermaid is real.  

Hetty and Rachel break Davey out of the spell and help uncover the trecherous dealings of Snibb's Midway.   Hetty grew up during the Victorian era and surely would have heard of mermaid hoaxes, like Barnum's infamous FeeJee mermaid hoax included in this list.  

Derived from the Museum of Hoaxes, this is my list of the top 5 Hoaxes of the Victorian Era (1837-1901).  

5. Ice Worms of the Klondike (1898)

In 1898, the Klondike Nugget reported that ice worms were appearing out of a nearby glacier. Journalist E.J. White created the hoax after receiving a directive to increase newspaper sales.

The hoax created a sensation--townspeople would search for the worms and listen closely for these creatures’ unusual “chirping” sounds.  Apparently, there is a festival for the ice worms in Dawson, Alaska that continues to this day.

4. Hearst’s Spanish-American War (1895)

Media tycoon William Randolph Hearst purchased the New York Journal in 1895 and dispatched Frederic Remington to Cuba to illustrate the skirmish between the Cubans and the Spanish. When no conflict was reported, Hearst fabricated a war in Cuba that increased newspaper sales. Talk about fake news!

3. Central Park Zoo Escape (1874)

On November 9, 1874, the New York Herald reported that there was a “mass escape of the animals in the Central Park Zoo”. According to the article, the rampaging animals killed 48 people and wounded 200 others.

Among the sightings was a lion spotted inside a church and a rhino that somehow managed to fall into a sewer. The author finally revealed it was a hoax in the last paragraph, stating that the managing editor only intended to draw attention to the poor conditions of the zoo.

Despite this revelation, the article provoked mass panic as men took to the streets to defend their homes and family. It is rumored that the editor of the New York Times ran into the streets waving two pistols in the air and yelled at police for not doing more to stop the rampage.

The Herald never apologized for the article and the panic it caused.

2. The FeeJee Mermaid (1842)

A traveling English naturalist named Dr. J. Griffin arrived in New York City with a spectacular curiosity—a mermaid supposedly caught near the Feejee islands. The body of the mermaid was put on display in Barnum’s museum, and enormous crowds turned out to see it.

Barnum hyped the exhibit by running advertisements in the major newspapers that showed a beautiful naked figure. The actual exhibit however, was not so alluring.

It was a small, taxidermically preserved creature with the withered upper body of a monkey and the dried tail of a fish. Dr. J. Griffin was actually Levi Lyman, who worked for Barnum. The FeeJee mermaid was lost when Barnum’s museum burned down during the 1860s.

1. The Great Moon Hoax (1835)

Beginning on August 25, 1835, the New York Sun published six articles falsely claiming that famous British astronomer Sir John Herschel invented a telescope powerful enough to examine life on the moon.

Among Herschel’s lunar observations were bison, unicorns, fire-wielding biped beavers, and a race of man-bats that built a mysterious golden roofed-temple. The sensational articles captured the imagination of the American public but eventually people became skeptical.

Despite the demand from rival ‘penny papers’ that the New York Sun admit it perpetrated a hoax, the paper claimed it was an innocent victim of the ordeal. The hoax is usually attributed to Sun reporter Richard Adams Locke.

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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

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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During its run in the 90's, Road to Avonlea was one of the highest rated, most awarded and highly revered series on Canadian television.  However, it's interesting to note that the series almost didn't happen.  Below, I detail five things that almost prevented this show from existing, at least how we know it!  

5. Gema Zamprogna almost took another role

Can you imagine another actress as Felicity King?  In the weeks leading up to the production of Road to Avonlea, Gema Zamprogna (Felicity King) was heading to Winnipeg to star in the CBC made-for-TV movie ‘The Challenge,’ later to be re-titled ‘The Challengers.’ Gema played the lead role as a 12 year old girl who impersonates a boy to join a boys-only club.

"I'd auditioned her for an earlier Sullivan film and her talent was like a clear white light shining through," acting director Anne Tait remembered. "But everyone said 'She's going to Winnipeg, just give up on her.'"  Anne Tait tracked down Gema en route to the airport and managed to obtain a tape of her reading for Felicity. The scheduled filming for Road to Avonlea was delayed one week, allowing Gema to accept the role as Felicity King.  Without Tait's intervention, the role might have been played by Tara Meyer (Sally Potts) who auditioned in June 1989. 

4. E.N.G. Almost Stole Avonlea's Time Slot

In the late 1980's, CBC only had enough money to produce one hour long drama and two programs were in competition: ENG (1989-1994), based on life in a television newsroom and Road to Avonlea.  Although Director of CBC television programming Ivan Fecan would later regret letting ENG get away, the network ultimately chose Road to Avonlea.  

Fecan clearly made the right decision by dropping E.N.G.  The dull soap opera was almost cancelled in the first season and received poor ratings when it was shown on Lifetime Television (probably bumped for some god-awful Meredith Baxter Birney film).  The publishers don't even want this out on DVD!  Besides, the soap opera's sexual themes would have gone over like a drunk Viola Elliot in church if it aired on CBC's Family Hour.

3. We Could have had a different Story Girl 

In early 1989, Sarah Polley had several acting options that could have prevented her from siezing the pivitol role of Sara Stanley.  Polley auditioned for the role of Cher’s daughter in ‘Mermaids (A role that went to Christina Ricci),’ a starring role as Annie in the bizzare "Annie and Daddy Warbucks Go To Budapest," and a part in the chilling ‘Small Sacrifices’ about an infamous child murderer.

The planned filming for Small Sacrifices in June 26 in Vancouver conflicted with filming for Road to Avonlea and it became apparent Polley's camp would have to decide between the two projects. After serious discussions with Sullivan, Sarah and her family accepted the role of Sara Stanley in the new series.  

It's interesting to wonder how things would be different if another actress put on the Story Girl's satin blue slippers.  Would the new actress enjoy her role and stay on as a regular cast member for the full seven seasons?

2. Decreased interest in Canadian Drama

There were apparently people upset that US television shows had a strong presence on Canadian television.  In 1987, Ivan Fecan was appointed director of CBC television programming “with a mandate from then vice-president Denis Harvey to shake things up.” Around this time, only 78 percent of television content in prime time was Canadian.  Fecan was committed to changing this trend by increasing Canadian content and popularizing Canadian drama on CBC.  This new direction by CBC was critical for the success of Road to Avonlea.

1. Lack of Funding

In 1983, the Canadian federal government committed $265 million over five years to expand Telefilm Canada and establish the Broadcast Fund. The Fund invested in privately produced weekly series miniseries and specials popular in Canada. The Broadcast Fund also provided the opportunity and resources necessary for Sullivan to create a Canadian mini-series.

Despite CBC’s commitment to the series, the network could only pay part of the $15 million total budget ($1.2 million per episode) required to produce the show (in addition to Telefilm Canada’s 2.5 million investment). Sullivan was reluctant to accept financial support from The Disney Channel, fearing they would try to “Disney-fy” the series. He ultimately relented, realizing that Disney’s financial investment of $8 million was critical to achieve the standard of quality he envisioned.

Learn more in the first chapter of the Behind the Series section: The Bend in the Road

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