This thesis is the first full-length study to assess the impact of the Scottish diaspora
in Canada through the writing of Canadian author L.M. Montgomery [1874-1942],
Scottish legacies are key to Montgomery's identity, and a pivotal force in her
L.M. Montgomery's clan and community genealogies are retraced in a threefold
examination of roots. Family legends are analysed with reference to Scottish
migration to Prince Edward Island, Montgomery's native province and favoured
fictional setting. This thesis aims to provide a more accurate picture of
Montgomery's background, and questions some of her assumptions about her
Lowland Scots heritage. Integral to each strand is the Canadian context that endorses
Montgomery's Scots progenitors as "a chosen people".
This legacy becomes the central motif in Montgomery's fiction. This thesis
establishes a new critical framework to facilitate the study of this superiority
complex, classifying Montgomery's books as either community or clan novels. It
argues that Montgomery's first novel, Anne of Green Gables , is not a model
for all her subsequent fiction, only those books where community is primary. She
diversifies from the "Anne" genre in novels where clan is central, and Scottish family
history and folklore increasingly important. This trend is consolidated in the
autobiographical "Emily" trilogy, where Scottish roots are expressly an essential
component of the heroine's Canadian identity.
L.M. Montgomery achieved commercial success partly by attuning her work to
existing literary markets. Her antecedents in popularjuvenile literature are significant,
but her books and stories also appealed to an adult audience conversant with "local
color" writing. This thesis finds parallels between Montgomery's "regional idylls"
and those of the popular Scottish authors, J.M. Barrie and Ian Maclaren.
Montgomery perceives elements of her Canadian childhood in their books, but adds
ironic subtexts when echoing the "Kailyard" world in her fiction.
The Scottish milieu in Montgomery's work is neither static nor sentimental.
The First World War had an enormous impact on Montgomery personally and on
Canadian society. Montgomery's fiction grapples with a new focus on national
identity instigated in post-war Canada. In some books, old country antecedents
recede, or become contrived. More often, Montgomery imports a darker, more
divisive, and less idealistic Scottish heritage, particularly as regards Scottish
In the inter-war years, Montgomery advocated the preservation of family lore
and oral history in order to protect and celebrate Canadian diversity. Scottish
customs—Presbyterian faith, folk beliefs, literary and linguistic traditions, clan and
community connections—lie at the heart of her Canadian romance and Canadian