Over the past few weeks, I have been visiting some old friends in the form of TV characters. I decided to re-watch Anne with an E and When Calls the Heart. These shows are both wildly different and surprisingly the same. Canada is the backdrop of these adventurous worlds. Anne finds herself on Prince Edward Island, surrounded by flowing green hills that cease just before the rough cliffs of the shoreline. Before Anne arrived, it would seem that the small area of Avonlea was pretty quiet (literally) and generally very conservative. It was an area of farmers and tradesmen. Large families were normal and what we might call gender roles were very rigid. Being born out of time, Anne has wild adventures that brings her to the edge of social norms. She is always speaking about “scope for the imagination” like it was her new religion. The childlike wonder is what speaks to me personally. The air of possibility is contrasted by life lessons that bring the exploration into focus. She is bold. Her adoptive family takes her in and must adjust to this loud, charming, and troublesome teenager.
The brother and sister living together out of necessity brings to light the struggle of the time. Sickness was often a death sentence in rural areas with the nearest doctor hours away. These “older than middle-age” characters live a quiet life of honest farm work. I think Matthew is my favorite. He reminds me a lot of my grandfather. Matthew doesn’t speak much, but when he does, he says something profound. As we see the relationship between Matthew and Anne grow, you will notice that Matthew slowly comes out of his shell. Matthew is always an advocate for Anne. There is a scene where Anne is speaking with her new school friends and (without realizing it) exposes how much she knows about adult relationships. The friends and parents are quite upset, as the town is quite conservative in all things. Marilla, Matthew’s sister, is the primary source of parenting to Anne and is deeply concerned when she learns of Anne’s tale. Matthew looks Marilla dead in the eyes and says, “She is a child. How does she know about such things?” This gets me every time. It is the beginning of Anne’s healing from her horrible upbringing in Service. It is when the people in Anne’s new life stop judging and start forgiving and nurturing her.
Naturally, there is a slow burning romance throughout the story that feels right based on the young age of Anne and Gilbert. No need to rush into anything. Good life advice all around. I find it similar to the slow romance of our other Canadian-based show.
When Calls the Heart is about a teacher that moves to a small mining town in the complete opposite side of the country. A frontier town a few years later as industrial technology is making its way into the daily lives of normal folk.
Elizabeth learns that living on the frontier is no easy task. This is where she meets Jack, the local Mountie. Let me pause here and say that the idea of a federal police force was quite foreign. We don’t have a centralized version of federal law enforcement in the United States. Keeping that in mind, because it was the Wild West of Canada, the laws where pretty loose and favored those with plenty of money. (Actually, that doesn’t sound that different than today…) Anyway, Elizabeth and Jack become friends and then start officially courting. It takes time and work. In a quite a “sappy” show, it does not skimp on the hard work it takes to maintain relationships. It also shows the damage that can be done by rushing into a friendship without knowing all the facts. The small town is connected by stage coach and everything takes hours/days. What a contrast. Nowadays, we can’t believe it takes a whole five seconds to download a movie onto our smartphone.
After eight seasons of Canada, I am convinced that seeing this great landscape is going to be part of my future. I’ve set plans for two separate trips into Canada: Prince Edward Island and one into Alberta to see one of the largest national parks in the world. Once I started planning, I couldn’t stop. My travel list includes the great national and state parks all over the USA. I also added a few places that explore my interest in space exploration and technology. I can’t wait! I’m excited to mark them off as I go from place to place and to meet new people. It’s all thanks to the adventurous spirit of these two characters who pushed themselves into a new life.