Road to Avonlea

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Road to Avonlea
Road to Avonlea.JPG
Created byKevin Sullivan
Based onThe Story Girl
The Golden Road
Chronicles of Avonlea
Further Chronicles of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery
StarringSarah Polley
Jackie Burroughs
Lally Cadeau
Cedric Smith
Gema Zamprogna
Zachary Bennett
Michael Mahonen
Mag Ruffman[1]
ComposersJohn Welsman,[2]
Hagood Hardy
Country of originCanada
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons7
No. of episodes91 (list of episodes)
Production
Running time45 minutes
Production companySullivan Films
Release
Original networkCBC
Original releaseJanuary 7, 1990 (1990-01-07) –
March 31, 1996 (1996-03-31)
Chronology
Preceded byAnne of Green Gables: The Sequel (1987)
Followed byAn Avonlea Christmas (1998)
External links
Website

Road to Avonlea is a Canadian television series first broadcast in Canada between January 7, 1990, and March 31, 1996, and in the United States starting on March 5, 1990. The program was created by Kevin Sullivan and produced by Sullivan Films (later Sullivan Entertainment) in association with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and the Disney Channel, with additional funding from Telefilm Canada. The Disney Channel began airing the series in the United States on March 5, 1990, and continued airing it in January 1997. The series was loosely adapted from a number of novels by Lucy Maud Montgomery, with many of the series' characters and episodes inspired by her stories.

Some episodes of the show were turned into independent books by various authors.[3] Around 30 titles have been released.

In the United States, its title was shortened to simply Avonlea, and a number of episodes were retitled and reordered. When the series was released on VHS and DVD in the United States, the title changed from Road to Avonlea to Tales from Avonlea.

Background and development[edit]

The series was initially loosely inspired from a number of books by Lucy Maud Montgomery, primarily The Story Girl and The Golden Road, both of which feature the character of Sara Stanley, as well as Felicity, Felix, and Cecily. These books, while set in Prince Edward Island, did not take place in the village of Avonlea. Many of the series' episodes and situations were adapted from stories recounted in Montgomery's Chronicles of Avonlea and Further Chronicles of Avonlea.

Many supporting characters were sourced from Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series. The show is set within the same continuity as Sullivan's 1985 film and its 1987 sequel based on the Anne novels. Rachel Lynde, Marilla Cuthbert, and Muriel Stacy all originally appeared in Montgomery's debut novel Anne of Green Gables, with Rachel and Marilla being briefly mentioned in passing in Chronicles of Avonlea. Patricia Hamilton, Colleen Dewhurst, and Marilyn Lightstone, who had played the characters in the films, returned for Road to Avonlea. The characters of Davy and Dora Keith were originally from Anne of Avonlea, the first sequel to Anne Of Green Gables. Anne Shirley herself never appeared, although she was referred to on rare occasions.

Some episodes of the show were turned into independent books by different authors. Around 30 titles have been released.

In the United States, its title was shortened to simply Avonlea, and a number of episodes were retitled and reordered. When the series was released on VHS and DVD in the United States, the title changed from Road to Avonlea to Tales from Avonlea.

The series is set in the fictional small town of Avonlea, Prince Edward Island, in the early 20th century (1903–1912). Ten-year-old Montreal heiress Sara Stanley (Sarah Polley) is sent by her wealthy father to live with her two maiden aunts, Hetty and Olivia King, to be near her late mother's side of the family after an embezzlement scandal results in him being placed under house arrest. The show's focus shifted over the years from Sara's interactions with locals to stories about the King family. Later seasons of the show focused more on residents of Avonlea who were connected to the King family. Sarah Polley left the show in 1994, returning for a guest appearance in the sixth season as well as the series finale episode.

Following the series proper, a reunion TV movie called An Avonlea Christmas was produced in 1998.

Characters[edit]

Major characters in the series (from left to right): Hetty King, Jasper Dale, Olivia King- Dale, Sara Stanley, Alec King, Felix King, Janet King, Cecily King, Eliza Ward and Felicity King

Major characters[edit]

  • Sara Stanley (Sarah Polley): An adventurous 10-year-old girl used to fine living in Montreal who must learn to adjust to a simpler life in Avonlea when her father runs into legal trouble. She moves into Rose Cottage with her late mother's sisters, Hetty and Olivia King. In seasons 3–5, she mostly concerns herself with matchmaking in Avonlea, which causes much controversy within the conservative town. Sarah Polley left the show after season five, though she made two guest appearances in the fifth episode of season six and in the series finale. Sara is mentioned but does not appear in An Avonlea Christmas.
  • Henrietta "Hetty" King (Jackie Burroughs): The oldest King sibling and head of the King family who lives at Rose Cottage with her sister Olivia. She is a strict disciplinarian and the Avonlea schoolteacher, and briefly quits teaching to write. In later seasons, she takes in Rachel Lynde and twins Davy and Dora Keith. In An Avonlea Christmas, she plans a holiday concert with her students, only to discover she needs an operation for a tumor. Burroughs had previously portrayed Amelia Evans in Anne of Green Gables.
  • Olivia King (Mag Ruffman): The youngest King sibling. Affectionate and sensitive, most of her experiences throughout the series involve her social dealings with other Avonlea residents. She goes on to marry Jasper Dale, with whom she has a son named Montgomery, and they later adopt a baby girl named Alicia. In An Avonlea Christmas, Jasper misses the ship to Avonlea and Olivia begins to question their marriage. Ruffman had previously portrayed Alice Lawson in Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel.
  • Alec King (Cedric Smith): Sara's uncle and the brother of Hetty, Olivia, Roger, and Sara's mother, Ruth. He is a farmer and lives with his family at King Farm next door to Rose Cottage. He is more level-headed and the voice of reason when Hetty is uncompromising or stubborn. Smith had previously portrayed Reverend Allan in Anne of Green Gables.
  • Janet King (Lally Cadeau): Alec's loving but independent-minded wife, the mother of Felicity, Felix, Cecily, and Daniel King, and sister of Abigail MacEwan.
  • Felicity King (Gema Zamprogna): Alec and Janet's eldest child. She insists on having adult responsibilities and feels superior to her younger siblings and her cousins. Throughout the series, she wants to be a wife, a teacher, and a doctor, and later runs the Avonlea Foundling Home. In season two, she grows close to Gus Pike and later accepts his proposal. They marry in the series finale. In An Avonlea Christmas, Gus is working for the War Department in Halifax and Felicity becomes pregnant with their first child.
  • Felix King (Zachary Bennett): Alec and Janet's mischievous and troublesome older son. He befriends Izzy Pettibone, the daughter of the widower schoolteacher who takes over after Hetty retires. In later seasons, their friendship turns into romance.
  • Cecily King (Harmony Cramp season 1–5, Molly Atkinson seasons 6-7): Alec and Janet's younger daughter. She is more interested in farm work than her brother Felix, and Alec considers leaving the farm to her. The actress change happens after she is sent to a sanitarium for tuberculosis.
  • Daniel King (played by Alex and Ryan Floyd): Alec and Janet's youngest child who is born at the end of season two.
  • Andrew King (Joel Blake): - Another King cousin who is sent to live on King Farm at the same time as Sara. His father Roger is the brother of Hetty, Olivia, Alec, and Ruth; he and Sara were born exactly a year apart. In season two, his father returns and takes Andrew back to Halifax.

Secondary characters[edit]

  • Gus Pike (Michael Mahonen): A young vagabond and sailor known for using Maritimer English. He leaves Avonlea for a time to find his thought-to-be-dead mother. He is presumed dead after a hurricane, but Felicity and Hetty find him along the eastern shore of the United States. He marries Felicity in the series finale.
  • Jasper Dale (R.H. Thomson): An inventor and photographer with a stutter who eventually marries Olivia. They buy the local cannery in later seasons. In the final season, it burns down, and they adopt a baby girl from a former cannery worker and move to Europe
  • Eliza Ward (Kay Tremblay): Janet and Abigail's eccentric and overbearing great-aunt who often visits King Farm. She later moves in with them and her wit and wisdom become indispensable to the King family.
  • Rachel Lynde (Patricia Hamilton): The local busybody and self-appointed moral guardian of Avonlea. Her character originally appeared in Anne of Green Gables. She initially lives with Marilla Cuthbert at Green Gables. After Marilla's death, she suffers a stroke and moves to Rose Cottage with Hetty King to raise Davy and Dora Keith.
  • Marilla Cuthbert (Colleen Dewhurst): Rachel's more-tolerant best friend, originally from Anne of Green Gables. After raising Anne Shirley, she adopts the orphaned children of her distant relative Mary Keith, although Rachel is initially opposed to this. After Marilla's sudden death, Rachel continues to care for Davy and Dora Keith at Green Gables, but after she has a stroke, Davy, Dora, and she move to Rose Cottage with Hetty and Sara.
  • Davy Keith (Kyle Labine): Marilla's orphaned relative who comes to live at Green Gables with his twin sister, Dora. Davy is wild and rambunctious, often getting into trouble. He later moves to Rose Cottage with Rachel Lynde and his sister. He does not appear in An Avonlea Christmas. In Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story, Rachel tells Anne Shirley Blythe that Davy has enlisted in World War I.
  • Dora Keith (Ashley Muscroft, Lindsay Murrell): Davy's sweet and well-behaved twin sister who moves with him to Green Gables after the death of their mother.
  • Muriel Stacy (Marilyn Lightstone): A schoolteacher recently promoted to superintendent and Hetty's rival. Her character originally appeared in Anne of Green Gables. She later moves back to Avonlea permanently, takes over the general store from the Lawsons, and marries Clive Pettibone. Though she does not appear in An Avonlea Christmas, her voice narrates the beginning.
  • Clive Pettibone (David Fox): Clive is the widower of Jessica Hepworth, and the father of three children: Arthur, Izzy, and Morgan. Clive's family moves to Avonlea so he can take over for Hetty as teacher at the Avonlea School. A former Army colonel, he is extremely strict with discipline-oriented attitudes. Soon after he arrives, Hetty and he are both revealed to be successful novelists writing under pseudonyms. Later, he is promoted to superintendent and marries Muriel Stacy.
  • Isolde "Izzy" Pettibone (Heather Brown): Clive's youngest child and only daughter. A tomboy, she quickly befriends Felix King and eventually becomes his romantic interest. As a child, she wanted to be like her father and aspires to be the first female general in the British army. She has two older brothers, Morgan and Arthur.
  • Morgan Pettibone (played by Mark Bigney, and later by Toby Proctor): He is Clive's middle child. Clive sent Morgan to military school as a punishment for "misbehaving," but Morgan eventually left after the Commandant criticized his artwork and love for art. Arthur helped Morgan realize his dream of becoming an artist and Clive accepted Morgan's decision to attend art school.
  • Arthur Pettibone (Zachary Ansley): Clive's oldest child, he is much older than his siblings. Initially, he resents his father for his mother's death, but their relationship improves gradually after the family moves to Avonlea. For some time, he is Gus's rival for Felicity's affection. Despite making several returns to Avonlea, Felicity and he never seem to run into each other after that. They both starred together in An Avonlea Christmas, but never ran into each other. He is an independent thinker who goes by his feelings, and studied to become a veterinarian.
  • Clara Potts (Maja Ardal): One of the main town gossips, she is quite often seen with Eulalie Bugle. She is fond of Felicity, who is her daughter Sally's rival. Marilla Cuthbert disliked her, and even Rachel Lynde once said she gave women a bad name.
  • Eulalie Bugle (Barbara Hamilton): Another town gossip, she is most often seen with Clara Potts or Rachel Lynde. She is introduced in season three's first episode. Barbara Hamilton is the sister of Patricia Hamilton and had played Marilla Cuthbert in the 1972 British miniseries Anne of Green Gables and its sequel Anne of Avonlea.
  • Peg Bowen (Susan E. Cox): A reclusive herbalist, she is thought of as Avonlea's own witch.
  • Peter Craig (Miklos Perlus): A hired hand about Sara's age and the son of Maud Craig who works at King Farm in season one.

Guest stars[edit]

Many famous actors made guest appearances on the show, including

Episodes[edit]

Locations[edit]

The Road to Avonlea set was constructed in Uxbridge, Ontario—the town where Lucy Maud Montgomery lived and wrote for a decade after moving from Prince Edward Island. The town of Avonlea was adapted from existing buildings. Its roads were painted red in an attempt to match the distinctive color of the island's iron-rich soil. Filming also took place regularly at Westfield Heritage Centre in Flamborough, Ontario. Photography and enhanced digital matter work married second-unit scenes of Prince Edward Island with the Leaskdale location where necessary.

Home media[edit]

Sullivan Entertainment released all seven seasons on DVD in Region 1 for the first time between 2005 and 2006. In 2009, they began re-releasing the series in wide screen format. As of December, 2012, all seven seasons and the Christmas special had been released in widescreen format.[4]

In 2016, Sullivan Entertainment announced it would launch their own streaming service called Gazebo TV that would feature the Road to Avonlea series among other titles produced by the company. The service launched in early 2017.

Ratings[edit]

The series debut garnered 2.527 million (2+ viewers).[5]

Awards and nominations[edit]

During Road to Avonlea's seven-year run, it won and was nominated for numerous awards worldwide:

  • 16 Emmy nominations, four Emmy Award wins:[6] Outstanding Lead Actor in a Dramatic Series (Christopher Lloyd) - "Another Point of View", 1992; Outstanding Children's Program - "Incident At Vernon River", 1993; Outstanding Costume Design for a Series - "Strictly Melodrama", 1995; Outstanding Guest Actress in a Dramatic Series (Dianne Wiest) - "Woman of Importance", 1997.
  • 17 CableAce nominations, four CableAce Awards: Best Dramatic Series, 1991; Best Dramatic Series, 1993; Best Dramatic Series, 1994; Best Writing in a Dramatic Series (Heather Conkie)
  • 18 Gemini Awards: Best Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Original Score (John Welsman), Best Performance by a Lead Actress (Jackie Burroughs), 1990; Best Original Score, Best Performance by a Lead Actress (Jackie Burroughs), 1991; Best Leading Actor (Cedric Smith), Best Guest Performance in a Series (Kate Nelligan), Best Direction in a Series (Allan King), 1992; Best Actress (Jackie Burroughs), 1993; Best Guest Performance in a Series (Bruce Greenwood), Best Original Score, Best Actress (Lally Cadeau), 1994; Best Supporting Actress (Patricia Hamilton), Best Original Score, 1995; Best Supporting Actress (Kay Tremblay), Best Guest Actress (Frances Bay), Best Original Score, 1996.
  • Six Gemini nominations
  • Three John Labatt Classic Awards for Most Popular Program in Canada (chosen by the public), 1990, 1991, and 1992

International broadcasters of Road to Avonlea[edit]

North America[edit]

Central America[edit]

South America[edit]

Europe[edit]

Asia[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Catching Up With…Mag Ruffman From ‘Road to Avonlea’". Zoomer, Laura Grande | February 9th, 2017
  2. ^ "Fans still follow Road to Avonlea". Toronto Star, Philip Marchand, July 31, 2007
  3. ^ "Book Review: SARA'S HOMECOMING, AUNT HETTY'S ORDEAL...". Canadian Materials for Young People Reviewing Journal, Volume 20 Number 5 1992 October. Reviewed by Constance Hall
  4. ^ "Tales From Avonlea: The Complete First Season". IGN, 28 Nov 2005
  5. ^ Katie Bailey (2015-01-08). "The Book of Negroes debuts to 1.7M viewers » Playback". Playbackonline.ca. Retrieved 2017-06-12.
  6. ^ "Avonlea - Emmy Awards Nominations". Emmy Awards - Television Academy. Emmy Awards. Retrieved 2016-05-09.

External links[edit]