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January 25, 2021
Frederica Elmanstine Campbell, L.M. Montgomery's first cousin, was the most valued and cherished companion of the famous authoress. Born in 1883 in Park Corner, she did not have a significant influence on Maud's early years. It was not until 1902 that the two cousins, slightly over 8 years apart in age, found they had a lot in common and their “souls were the same age”. Previous friendships with the other two female Campbell cousins were enriched then by a once in a lifetime connection — both emotional and intellectual. Just like Anne found her bosom friend in Diana, among her own relatives Maud found Frederica.
Frederica Campbell was the youngest daughter of Aunt Annie and Uncle John Campbell of Park Corner (their homestead is still owned by the Campbell family and is known as The Anne of Green Gables Museum) which Maud loved visiting. Like Maud, she became a teacher and taught for a few years in nearby schools, including schools in Sea View, Irishtown, and Stanley Bridge. Around the time L.M. Montgomery started writing "Anne of Green Gables" in her maternal grandparents' homestead in Cavendish, Frederica taught in Stanley Bridge which enabled the two cousins to meet more frequently. Since "Anne of Green Gables" became an instant success, Maud was able to help her cousin to gain more education. With L.M.M.'s encouragement Frederica applied to Macdonald College in Quebec and got a degree in Housekeeping Science in 1912. After L.M. Montgomery moved to Leaskdale, Frederica would visit her on a regular basis and even lived with the Macdonalds for a while after the birth of Maud's first son. Those were indeed happy times in the Ontario life of the famous authoress - she recalled Frede's laughter and amazing intellect many times in her Journals.
The fulfilling friendship, alas, abruptly ended early in the morning on January 25, 1919 when Frederica died of the flu-related pneumonia during the 1918/1919 pandemic, with her beloved cousin Maud by her side. She would leave a detailed account of this heartbreaking event in her Journal two weeks later, when she was finally able to bring herself to writing it.
"She died just as the eastern sky was crimson with sunrise. She "went out as the dawn came in" — like old Captain Jim in my House of Dreams. (...) Well, it is all over. It has been my privilege to possess for seventeen years a rare and perfect friendship-something that is very rare in this world, especially between women. Perhaps some day I may be thankful that I had it even at the cost of losing it. Just now the agony seems too great a price to pay."*
Frederica's premature passing left an enormous void in Maud's life, a void, which could not be filled by anyone else for the rest of her life. Two months later, when L.M.M. started writing "Rilla of Ingleside", there was no doubt in her mind who she would dedicate the novel to — her beloved cousin and friend Frederica:
“To the memory of FREDERICA CAMPBELL MACFARLANE who went away from me when the dawn broke on January 25, 1919 — a true friend, a rare personality, a loyal and courageous soul.”
The current owner of the Anne of Green Gables Museum, George Campbell, is Frederica's grandnephew. In 2019 George republished "The Story Girl", another book dedicated to Frederica, featuring the original 1911 cover. Included in this book is a never before published photograph of Frederica Campbell MacFarlane.
*Quotes from the February 7, 1919 entry in L.M. Montgomery’s Complete Journals. The Ontario Years 1918-1921. Edited by Jen Rubio. Rock’s Mills Press 2017.
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