Road to Avonlea

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.

Road to Avonlea
Created byKevin Sullivan
StarringSarah Polley
Jackie Burroughs
Lally Cadeau
Cedric Smith
Gema Zamprogna
Zachary Bennett
Michael Mahonen
Mag Ruffman[1]
Composer(s)John Welsman,[2]
Hagood Hardy
Country of originCanada
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons7
No. of episodes91 (list of episodes)
Running time45 minutes
Production company(s)Sullivan Films
Original networkCBC
Original releaseJanuary 7, 1990 (1990-01-07) 
March 31, 1996 (1996-03-31)
Preceded byAnne of Green Gables: The Sequel (1987)
Followed byAn Avonlea Christmas (1998)
External links

The series was loosely adapted from a number of novels by Lucy Maud Montgomery, and a number of the series' episodes and situations were adapted from her stories. The characters are sourced from Montgomery’s works. Later episodes included many leading characters that had no direct basis in Montgomery's written work.

Some episodes of the show were turned into the 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

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, were not set in the village of Avonlea. Many the series' episodes and situations were adapted from stories recounted in Montgomery's Chronicles of Avonlea and Further Chronicles of Avonlea.

Other characters were sourced from other Montgomery works. The frequently seen characters of Rachel Lynde and Marilla Cuthbert were only briefly mentioned in passing in Chronicles of Avonlea, having previously appeared as full-fledged characters in Montgomery's debut novel Anne of Green Gables. Patricia Hamilton and Colleen Dewhurst, who had played the characters in Sullivan's 1985 and 1987 television adaptations of the novels, returned in Road to Avonlea, as did Marilyn Lightstone as Muriel Stacy. The characters of Davy and Dora Keith were originally from Anne Of Avonlea, the first sequel to Anne Of Green Gables.

Later episodes included many leading characters that had no direct basis in Montgomery's written work. Montgomery's most famous character, Anne Shirley, never appeared on Road To Avonlea, 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). There, 10-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 one guest star appearance in the sixth season and another one in the seventh season.

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


Major characters

  • Sara Stanley (Sarah Polley): An adventurous 10-year-old girl who is used to fine living in Montreal, including a nanny, must learn to adjust to the simpler life in Avonlea. Her mother, Ruth King - sister to Hetty, Alec, Roger, and Olivia — died of tuberculosis when Sara was a toddler. When Sara's father, Blair Stanley (Robert Collins) runs into legal trouble, he arranges to have Sara and her nanny, Louisa Banks (Frances Hyland) stay in Avonlea for a while. Sara stays without her nanny and lives with her single aunts, Hetty and Olivia, at Rose Cottage. In seasons three–five, Sara mostly concerns herself with matchmaking in Avonlea, which causes much controversy within the conservative town. After season five, Sarah Polley left the show. In the middle of season six, Sara reappears, and both Louisa and Aunt Hetty start planning her future without consulting her. Sara, yearning to become a writer, has applied to a prestigious writing school in Paris. In the end, Louisa and Hetty accept Sara's plan. Sara later returns for Felicity's wedding in the series finale, but does not appear in the reunion film, An Avonlea Christmas. However, Felicity mentions something Felix and Sara did in the past while trying to comfort a terrified Janet when Felix is listed as missing in action.
  • Henrietta "Hetty" King (Jackie Burroughs): As the oldest King sibling, Hetty is head of the King family. She lives at Rose Cottage with her sister, Olivia, and their niece, Sara (daughter of their late sister Ruth). She is an extremely strict disciplinarian and school teacher for the Avonlea School. In later seasons, Hetty quits teaching to write, but later returns to teaching. While Sara is in Europe with her nanny, Hetty takes in Mrs. Lynde and the twins, Davy and Dora Keith. In the reunion movie, Hetty plans a holiday concert with her students, but she is badly injured before the big night and Felicity takes over the concert. While Hetty is in the hospital, she learns she has a malignant tumor and must have a risky operation. The tumor is successfully removed and Hetty is able to attend the concert in good health. Burroughs had previously portrayed Amelia Evans in Anne of Green Gables.
  • Olivia King (Mag Ruffman): Hetty's youngest sibling, Olivia is more affectionate to Sara, and more sensitive and social. Most of her experiences throughout the series involve her social dealings with other Avonlea citizens. She eventually marries Jasper Dale and leaves Rose Cottage, but before this she works as a reporter for the local paper, which is how she becomes acquainted with Jasper, who does the photography for her stories. When they marry, Jasper and Olivia have a son, Montgomery, and later adopt a baby girl, Alicia, from one of their employees at the cannery. In the reunion movie, Jasper misses the ship to Avonlea and Olivia begins to question their marriage and considers leaving him and staying in Avonlea. When Jasper sends her a music box for Christmas, she realizes she does still love him and decides to go home to London. 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, firstborn-son and 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 typically more level-headed and the voice of reason when Hetty is being 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, she is mother to Felicity, Felix, Cecily, and Daniel King. She has a sister, Abigail McEwen.
  • Felicity King (Gema Zamprogna): Alec and Janet's eldest child and elder daughter, she often insists on taking on adult responsibilities and feels superior to her younger siblings and her cousin Sara. Throughout the series, she wants to be a wife, a teacher, and a doctor; eventually, she runs the Avonlea Foundling Home. She grows close to Gus Pike, starting in season two. Gus is her first kiss, and later she accepts his marriage proposal—only to learn that he was lost at sea. Later, he is found alive and blind; Felicity brings him back to Avonlea and marries him in the series finale. In the reunion movie, Gus is working for the War Department in Halifax, and Felicity realizes she is expecting their first child.
  • Felix King (Zachary Bennett): Alec and Janet's mischievous, troublesome older son, he befriends Izzy (Isolde), daughter of Mr. Pettibone, the widower schoolteacher who takes over after Hetty retires. In later seasons, Felix and Izzy's friendship turns into romance.
  • Cecily King (Harmony Cramp season 1-5, Molly Atkinson seasons 6-7): Alec and Janet's quiet younger daughter, the actress switch occurs when Cecily becomes ill with tuberculosis and goes to a sanitarium in the United States. She is more interested in farm work than her brother Felix, and Alec considers leaving the farm to her.
  • Daniel King (played by Alex and Ryan Floyd): Alec and Janet's youngest son, he is born at the end of season two.

Secondary characters

  • Gus Pike (Michael Mahonen): A young vagabond, he gradually earns the townsfolk's respect throughout seasons two–five. A sailor, he is known for using Maritimer English. He leaves Avonlea for a time to find his mother, whom he had thought was long dead. After word of a hurricane, he is presumed dead, but Felicity and Hetty find him along the eastern shore of the United States. He has gone blind and they bring him back to Canada for sight-restoration surgery, after which he marries Felicity.
  • Jasper Dale (R.H. Thomson): An inventor and photographer with a stuttering problem, he 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 great-aunt has often visited King Farm and been eccentric and overbearing. Later in the series, she moves in with the Kings and becomes a more permanent King Farm fixture, and her wit and wisdom become indispensable to the King family.
  • Marilla Cuthbert (Colleen Dewhurst): Rachel's more-tolerant best friend and fellow character, she is brought back 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.
  • Rachel Lynde (Patricia Hamilton): Rachel is the local busybody and self-appointed moral guardian of Avonlea. Her character originally appeared in Anne of Green Gables. In the beginning of the series, Rachel lives with her best friend, Marilla Cuthbert, at Green Gables. After Marilla's death, Rachel suffers a stroke and moves in with her friend (and sometimes enemy) Hetty King and they raise Davy and Dora Keith.
  • Davy Keith (Kyle Labine): Marilla's orphaned relative, he comes to live at Green Gables with his twin sister, Dora. Davy is wild and rambunctious, often getting into trouble. Later, Dora, Rachel, and he move in with Hetty after Marilla's death and Rachel's stroke; he and Hetty do not get along. He does not appear in An Avonlea Christmas. In Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story, Anne Blythe runs into Rachel Lynde, who tearfully informs her that Davy has enlisted.
  • Dora Keith (Ashley Muscroft, Lindsay Murrell): Davy's twin sister, she came to Green Gables with Davy after their mother died. Dora is sweet-natured and well-behaved.
  • Muriel Stacy (Marilyn Lightstone): A schoolteacher, she was recently promoted to superintendent, and is Hetty's rival. The two women are polar opposites. Her character originally appeared in Anne of Green Gables. Later in the series, Muriel 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.
  • Jessica Hepworth: Clive's late wife and late mother of Arthur, Izzy, and Morgan. Clive was away fighting a war when Jessica became ill and died.
  • Lillian Hepworth (Dianne Wiest): Jessica's sister, a former women's millner whose business failed, and has gone into debt. Izzy once considered moving in with Lillian, but Clive hated Lillian for being "irresponsible."
  • 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 s very fond of Felicity, who is her daughter Sally's rival. She originated in Anne of Green Gables; Marilla disliked her.
  • 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.
  • Andrew King (Joel Blake): - Another King cousin, he is sent to live on King Farm at the same time as Sara, in the first two seasons. His father Roger is the brother of Hetty, Olivia, Alec, and Ruth; he and Sara were born exactly a year apart.
  • Peg Bowen (Susan E. Cox): A reclusive herbalist, she is thought of as Avonlea's own witch.
  • Mr. Harrison: The next door neighbor of Green Gables, he buys it after Marilla's death. He is first seen as an enemy of Mrs. Lynde, but later a love interest. He is mentioned in Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story when a horrified Anne, who realizes the new residents have basically destroyed Green Gables, exclaims, "Mr. Harrison is going to get a tongue lashing the next time I see him!"
  • Peter Craig (Miklos Perlus): A hired hand about Sara's age, he works at King Farm in season one. He is the son of Maud Craig.

Guest stars

In all seven seasons of Road to Avonlea, many well-known actors made appearances on the show, some multiple times. Among them:



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

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.


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

Awards and nominations

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

North America

Central America

South America



See also


  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". Retrieved 2017-06-12.
  6. "Avonlea - Emmy Awards Nominations". Emmy Awards - Television Academy. Emmy Awards. Retrieved 2016-05-09.
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