Draws World Scholars
All serious Montgomery scholars end up in Guelph at one
point or another, and they find the journey is worth their
the years, retired English professor Mary Rubio, left, has
hosted many international scholars such as Yuko Izawa, who
has travelled from Japan six times to use U of G's renowned
L.M. Montgomery Collection.
Photo by Rachelle Cooper
For people who live in Guelph, paying a visit to
the world's best collection of Lucy Maud Montgomery's work
and artifacts is just a matter of dropping by the U of G
Library. For Japanese scholar Yuko Izawa, however, it takes
a bit more effort. The English professor from Miyagi Gayuin
Women's University just made her sixth 20,743-kilometre
round-trip visit from Sendai City, Japan, to Guelph to spend
eight hours a day copying by hand pages and pages of Montgomery's
words in the McLaughlin Library archives.
The fact that copyright laws prohibit her from photocopying
more than 10 per cent of Montgomery's unpublished journals
is actually a blessing in Izawa's mind.
"For me, it's interesting to copy Montgomery's journals
because as I write her words, it makes me feel as if I can
follow her feelings." She then uses other material
from the L.M. Montgomery Collection to put the author's
words into a larger context.
Izawa is only one of many scholars who have travelled a
long distance to use the collection. Lorne Bruce, head of
the library's archival and special collections, says he's
recently shown the collection to people from Sweden, Scotland,
the United States and Germany.
The journey is worth their while because Anne of Green
Gables fans and academics are able to see 120 boxes
that contain Montgomery's original journals, scrapbooks,
photographs, needlework pieces, papers and personal library.
Montgomery's son Stuart Macdonald sold the journals and
scrapbooks to U of G in 1981 shortly before his death.
The collection also contains first editions of Montgomery
publications, more than 1,200 photographs taken by and of
the celebrated author, the original manuscript of Rilla
Ingleside, her will and financial records and even a
lock of her father's hair at age 16.
It was during Izawa's first visit to Canada in 1997 that
she met U of G English professor Mary Rubio, who is known
widely among Montgomery scholars for her research and publications
and is co-editor of The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery
with University professor emerita Elizabeth Waterston.
In each of Izawa's subsequent visits to Guelph, she has
stayed in Rubio's home. After long days in the Montgomery
archives, Izawa says she's grateful to be able to discuss
her thoughts and work with Rubio, who recently retired from
the University. "I've gotten so much advice and information
from Mary," she says.
Over the past decade, Rubio has hosted Montgomery scholars
and graduate students from Japan, Israel, Poland, Denmark,
Sweden, Finland, Scotland, China, India and the United States,
sometimes opening her home to them to help cut down on their
"There are benefits to me," she says. "I
have learned a great deal from them about their country
and culture and where they have trouble understanding our
culture, particularly the Scottish Presbyterian culture
that Montgomery lived in at the turn of the century."
Rubio has done no translation herself, but she's gained
a great appreciation for how hard it is by talking with
translators. "They have to understand an entire cultural
context to know what word to choose in their language,"
Ever since Izawa got hooked on Anne of Green Gables
as a schoolgirl, she was aware the translated Japanese versions
of the book were incomplete.
"I read the translated version of Anne as a child,
then when I was at secondary school, I found a pocketbook
version that was not abridged. When I first read the book,
I didn't realize something was cut short."
Knowing that a translator could omit sections of the book
and provide only one interpretation of the text is partly
what led Izawa to seek out Montgomery's original words.
"There were many mistakes in the Japanese translation
of Montgomery's journals. I started to study English because
I wanted to be a translator."
Her quest to read Montgomery's own words led Izawa first
to the setting of the author's books. She took the tour
of the Anne of Green Gables house on Prince Edward
Island and visited the University of Prince Edward Island
collection. But U of G is where she has conducted most of
her research simply because it has the most complete and
"All serious Montgomery scholars end up in Guelph
at one point or another," says Bruce.
Izawa is translating sections of Montgomery's journals
and writing papers on the context surrounding the translated
sections. She has assembled a team of Japanese scholars
from other universities to work with her on the materials
"Yuko is taking an entirely scholarly approach when
she translates and interprets significant parts of the later
journals," says Rubio. "Her work treats Montgomery
seriously as both a women's and a children's writer."
She and Izawa explain that even though Montgomery is popular
in Japan, male scholars don't consider her novels or journals
to be important. "It's a challenge in Japan to be taken
seriously for my research because women's literature is
still not accepted in the academic community," says
Adds Rubio: "The care with which Yuko's team members
approach their work will slowly influence the opinion of
male professors in Japan."
She notes that she and Waterston encountered similar challenges
early in their careers.
"When we started working, Montgomery wasn't taken
seriously. She was a woman and she was popular, both strikes
against her and other women writers who had a large cultural
impact. It was the publication of the journals and the recognition
that she was an extremely well-read, intelligent and articulate
woman that led to her finally being accepted into the Canadian
Rubio believes she and Izawa have approached their work
in similar ways.
"I don't think either of us or our colleagues set
out to change things. We just began to work on something
we thought was important, and the final impact has been
that the attitude toward it has changed. There's been an
enormous amount of recovery of women's writers in the last
30 years in the western world. It's coming a little later
to Japan, which is a very patriarchal culture, but it's
definitely coming there, and Montgomery scholars are helping
The U of G collection is allowing people from around the
world to gain full appreciation of the scope of Montgomery's
writing, adds Rubio.
"The number of scholars from other countries coming
here to study Montgomery shows she's had a worldwide influence
and impact. When they work on her, especially with us, there
is cross-cultural learning both ways."
And as a result, the Montgomery collection continues to
grow larger and stronger, says Bruce. "We get copies
of Izawa's published work for the archives, so it's mutually
Izawa and other Japanese scholars have donated many Montgomery
items from their country to the archives, ranging from books
and scholarly articles to Japanese comic strip versions
of Anne's adventures, copies of media productions, and cultural
artifacts representing various characters from the novels.
The U of G collection will grow even larger in 2004 with
the publication of a biography of L.M. Montgomery by Rubio
and the fifth and final volume of The Selected Journals.