Box 14,1024 Maple Avenue
Bala, Muskoka
705-762-5876 or

Bala's Museum on Facebook
  • Early Days 1992
  • LMM authors Mary Rubio, Mollie Gillen, meet at Bala!
  • LMM’s granddaughter Luella and family (with Linda)
Early Days 19921 2 LMM authors Mary Rubio, Mollie Gillen, meet at Bala!
3 LMM’s granddaughter Luella and family (with Linda)
4 5

by Jack and Linda Hutton

We have good reason for celebrating The Blue Castle. That Muskoka love story by Lucy Maud Montgomery totally changed our lives. This is the true story of how our little museum was born.

This takes us all the way back to our marriage on June 30, 1990. We left for a honeymoon in Prince Edward Island, chosen because Linda wanted to see where Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote Anne of Green Gables. Linda had loved the book ever since a Grade 5 teacher read it to her class.

That 10-day honeymoon changed our lives.

Both of us were surprised to learn that LMM had holidayed in Bala in the summer of 1922. That two-week holiday inspired her to set her next novel, The Blue Castle in Muskoka. It is her only novel not wholly set in her beloved PEI.

Surprises weren’t over. While we were on our honeymoon our local librarian received a letter from a University of Guelph professor who was interested in the link between L.M. Montgomery and The Blue Castle. On our return, we called Prof. Mary Rubio at her Guelph office to find what this was all about.

Dr. Rubio told us that the famous author spent two weeks in 1922 at Bala’s Roselawn Lodge and that she had her meals at a tourist home almost next door to Roselawn.

We knew exactly where that former tourist home was and that it faced possible demolition. Before the phone call ended Linda had decided that we had to buy the old home to save it and have a museum.

Below: Here is what old home looked like decades later as a world-class museum.

Had we not gone to PEI for our honeymoon, we would never have discovered the link between Bala and L.M. Montgomery. Had Mary Rubio not visited Bala and left her note we would never learned that L.M. Montgomery wrote at length about Bala in her diary. If we wanted to save the last link between Bala and Canada’s most famous author we had to act quickly.

Our best friends thought we were out of our minds when we bought the former tourist home near the end of 1990. In the following year they shook their heads as Linda worked by herself to restore the old home back to the 1920's (Jack was still working in Toronto).

Our biggest supporter back then was Dr. Mary Rubio, who quickly became a friend. She was editing LMM’s diaries with Dr. Elizabeth Waterston, another English professor at the University of Guelph. Mary made it possible for us to spend hours with LMM’s handwritten diaries and other archives at Guelph and located precious photographs for us. She also came to Bala as the keynote speaker at our museum’s official opening on July 24th, 1992. Four hundred showed up, including kindred spirits from the U.S. and members of LMM’s family. We were on national television (both CBC and CTV) that evening.

We will be forever grateful for the support that we received from members of L.M. Montgomery’s family, but especially from a grandson, David Macdonald, and his wife, Marie. They generously loaned us LMM’s silver tea set which has been on display since our opening. Thanks to them, more than 120,000 visitors from more than 40 countries have admired the silver tea set.

The following are highlights from the quarter century that our museum has existed.

Linda & Dr. Mary Rubio

This photo of Linda and Dr. Mary Rubio was taken in the year before we opened. They are seated in our front yard which was a crabgrass lawn. One year later there was a picket fence and Evening Primroses. Today, there is a country garden of Hollyhocks, Irises, Bachelor Buttons, Johnny Jump-Ups, Lupins and other flowers that LMM cherished.

The kitchen before and after photos dramatically show how a tired 1970's kitchen morphed back to the 1920's. The cream and green 1922 electric stove was the inspiration for the kitchen colours and style. Linda was able to find authentic doors and windows, mortice locks and porcelain door knobs and kitchen cupboards.

Throughout the house walls had to be either re-plastered or scraped down in preparation for vintage style wallpaper. Drapery and curtain fabrics were chosen and sewed by Linda. We had to collect antique furnishings and Lucy Maud Montgomery first editions. Eventually, our collection of LMM’s books became one of the best anywhere and displayed above people’s heads in a plate rail fashion.

Linda recently wrote: “We were perhaps the first to see the progression of dust jacket / book covers of Anne ranging from the Gibson girl to the flower child and everything in between. As our collection grew we were able to mount the display ‘Anne Madly Off In All Directions’ as a 100-year tribute to the publishing of Anne of Green Gables. The centrepiece was our very own first impression copy of LMM’s famous first book.

Linda & Dr. Mary Rubio

Over the years, our collection of foreign editions of the Anne books has grown considerably. We are always thrilled to see the reaction of New Canadians or foreign visitors when we can show them an LMM book in their own language.”

In 2013, we felt honoured to receive Heritage Designation from the Township of Muskoka Lakes. That was very special because we joined a small and select group of L.M. Montgomery sites in Canada who have received heritage recognition.

We have come a long way since the summer day when Linda and Mary Rubio sat down on our crabgrass lawn. Back then we had one short year to do the impossible. We did it – and all without a penny of support from any government level or outside body.

Bala's Museum
1024 Maple Avenue
Box 14, Bala, Muskoka
ON Canada P0C 1A0
705-762-5876 or 1-888-579-7739