By Kaylynn Paynter
Oct. 14, 2014
Bernadeta Milewski has dreamed of Prince Edward Island ever since she was a child.
As a young girl growing up in Poland, she read Anne of Green Gables and longed to visit the homeland of the red-headed heroine.
Decades later, in 2006 Milewski’s dream finally came true when she made the trip to P.EI.
“I remember we took our first steps out at Green Gables, we stayed at Anne’s Windy Poplars. I remember I was so excited I could not sleep, at six a.m. I was ready so ready to go and visit all these places.”
Milewski’s stay on the island lasted five days, believing she had seen everything the island had to offer, she never expected she would ever come back.
And that’s where the story gets really interesting.
“I thought that was it. My dream had come true. I never expected it would be back.”
But 2012, a friend of Milewski’s, appropriately named Anne, Ania in polish asked to see some pictures from her trip to P.E.I. Seeing these photos sparked Milewski’s desire to visit the island once more.
“I remember making ‘Prince Edward Island’ in Polish out of the red stones on the beach. Seeing that (photo) I needed to go there again. It took us five days to arrange everything and we were here.”
During her second trip to the island, Milewski came across her dream house while driving through Springbrook with her husband and young daughter.
“I remember telling my husband to pull over so I could get out and take pictures of this dream house.”
When Milewski returned from P.E.I. a second time to her home in Connecticut, she spent the better part of a year searching for the owner of that house. She would write about the house in her Polish blog cronicling her adventures in the land of Anne.
Her search led her to some photos taken by P.E.I. photographer Stephen Desroches. She contacted him asking if he knew anything about the property.
Desroches didn’t know anything, but he put Milewski in contact with John Sylvester, another P.E.I. based photographer who had taken pictures of the property.
Sylvester identified the property as the Black farm and he was able to provide Milewski with a phone number.
Too excited to call herself, Milewski got her husband to make the call.
“I was so excited. He was calling from the basement and I couldn’t be in the kitchen on the first floor because I would be able to hear something, so with my daughter I went upstairs and I would make her check to see if the receiver was still up.”
Milewski thought whoever happened to be on the other end of the phone would hang up after hearing about her lengthy quest to find the owner of the house.
Ten minutes later, Milewski’s husband came upstairs.
The man on the phone was Andy Black, one of the owners of the property.
“He said we can go and visit. We came a week later and he was nice enough to show us around the property.”
The property consists of five separate buildings, including a cook house that provided food for the tall ships when they docked at the island in the 1800s, was purchased by Black’s family in 1968 for $12,500. It features a long laneway with trees and fields lining both sides and private beach access at the back.
In February, 2014, Black’s property was featured on the cover of the P.E.I. tourist guide, Milewski e-mailed him to congratulate him and let him know she would be returning to the island again soon.
“I let him know that we would be going to the Philippines to visit our sponsor child, but would also be making a stop in P.E.I. He said, ‘let me see what I can do for you’ and in March he told us we could stay in the guest house on the property.”
Black said the call from Milewski’s husband was probably the politest way anyone has ever asked to see the place he lives.
“It’s really common that cars are lined up three and four at a time to take pictures pretty much the whole time there is canola in the field. Occasionally, people drive down the lane because they are looking to pick clams or they are curious. But to this story I was like ‘oh wow, a lot of effort went in to this.’”
Milewski’s patience and persistence persuaded Black to let her stay in the guest house on her next visit and every one to follow.
“She came down and bestowed all these lovely gifts (polish cheesecake and chocolate) and she had a lovely family, so that made it easy to think, well these people are very special.”