The Last Waltz: An Inside Look at Road to Avonlea's Final Season

March 30, 1996 - By Andrew Ryan - Pages 15-19
The entire cast at Gus and Felicity's wedding.

For seven seasons Road to Avonlea has been the jewel in CBC's prime-time crown. The family series about live in a Prince Edward Island town on the eve of the First World War was spun off from the hig 1980s Anne of Green Gables TV movies by executive producer Kevin Sullivan, and has become a Sunday night staple of Canadian viewers, with regular audiences of about two million. The show has won several Emmys, and has also been exported to more than 140 countries, including the U.S., where it airs on the Disney Channel.

Most Avonlea fans were dismayed, then, when Sullivan announced that this would be the series' final season. And this week it all comes to a close with a colorful will-they-or-won't-they-get-married storyline about Felicity (Gema Zamprogna) and her beloved Gus (Michael Mahonen), who has unexpectedly returned from the sea. The question is: How does a beloved TV tradition end? Not with a bang, or a whimper, but in a series of snapshots from its final season

Scene Two

In her dressing room, Mag Ruffman, every bit as adorable as her Avonlea persona of Olivia Dale, is taking a break between scenes. "Please don't ask me about this being our last year," she says, rolling her eyes. What will make the end so intolerable for her is losing the chance to work on a show where "detail is everything. That's why the show has stayed so popular - attention to detail. It's in the scripts, the way it's filmed, even the costumes." She sighs: "The last day is going to be really tough."

Scene Three

Meanwhile, back in her dressing room, Ruffman is showing her secret Avonlea farewell project: cast photos transferred on to cloth, which Ruffman has hand-sewn into patchwork quilts for her fellow cast members. With Sullivan's help, she's also assembled photo albums for cast and crew. "This is all I've been doing lately - to keep my mind off saying goodbye to everyone."

Ruffman is a trooper, but looking at the quilts and photos pushes her over the edge and she bursts into tears - moments before she has to shoot her final scenes on the set."

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