As World War I rages in Europe, the citizens of Avonlea prepare for their annual Christmas festivities. Hetty King, always ready and willing to do her part for king and country, is planning a Christmas concert with the schoolchildren to raise funds for the war effort. Janet King however, whose son Felix King is away fighting in the trenches, would prefer to forget about the war altogether.
Things get more complicated for Hetty when she learns that a young, new Superintendant of Schools with progressive ideas about teaching will be attending her Christmas concert. The concert takes on even greater meaning when Cecily, who is working as telegraph operator, delivers news that Felix has been listed as “missing in action”.
The whole family, especially Janet, is devastated. Hetty comes to King Farm to give Janet her “honour and duty” speech but Janet won’t listen to it. She feels that Felix never should have gone in the first place and that Hetty’s constant preaching about duty forced him into it.
Jackie Burroughs as Hetty King
Lally Cadeau as Janet King
Mag Ruffman as Olivia Dale-King
Cedric Smith as Alec King
Zachary Bennett as Felix King
Patricia Hamilton as Rachel Lynde
Gema Zamprogna as Felicity Pike
Molly Atkinson as Cecily King
Ryan Cooley as Daniel king
Asa Perlman as Monty Dale
Kay Hawtrey as Mabel Sloane
John Weir as Gurney MacDonald
Patricia Vanstone as Ada Hubble
Lauren Collins as Libby Hubble
Alexa Gilmour as Hanna Lester
Ferne Downey as Margaret Powell
Maja Ardal as Clara Potts
Zachary Ainsley as Arthur Pettibone
Stefan Scaini (Director)
Raymond Storey (Writer)
Kevin Sullivan (Producer)
Trudy Grant (Executive Producer)
Mairin Wilkinson (Editor)
Don Gillis (Music Composer)
Maria Armstrong (Casting Director)
Ruth Secord (Costume Designer)
Bob Saad (Director of Photography)
Meanwhile, as word comes in that more Avonlea boys have been killed, Janet becomes vocal about her disapproval of the war, which doesn’t sit well with Hetty. When Hetty tries to talk to her about doing her duty, Janet becomes infuriated and refuses to speak to Hetty anymore.
Concerned that she may lose her job if the concert isn’t well attended, Hetty goes to Charlottetown to enlist famous performer and former student, Wilfred Ainsley to perform. However, before she gets a chance to speak to him, Hetty collapses due to a tumor on her spine. Luckily, Arthur Pettibone is in attendance at the same function and sees to it that Hetty is hospitalized. Hetty must receive surgery to remove the tumor and determine if it is benign or malignant.
Janet and Alec come to Charlottetown but Janet refuses to speak with Hetty. The strain of not knowing if Felix is alive or dead is taking its toll on both Janet and Alec as they argue about other boys going to war.
Meanwhile, word of the indomitable Hetty King’s illness hits Avonlea hard. Everyone rally’s to the cause, including Felicity who continues to rehearse for the concert with Hetty’s students.
Hetty is very nervous about the surgery and wonders about the accomplishments of her life and how she will be remembered. During the surgery, Hetty dreams of her students and Felix going to war because of her and she calls out for them to come back.
Well… we are blessed. Here’s a toast. To the joys of the season, to this family, to those gathered here and to those in our hearts… and to being loved. A Happy Christmas to us all! Happy Christmas! – Hetty King
The surgery is a success and the tumour is benign. Hetty is visited in the hospital by Wilfred Ainsley, who was asked by Janet to perform at Hetty’s concert and he agreed because of his great admiration for Hetty. Felicity also brings the children and they sing Christmas carols to Hetty through her hospital room window.
In the end, the concert is a tremendous success and the entire King Family mends their differences to come together for Christmas Dinner at Rose Cottage and the best gift of all is that Felix comes home safe and sound.
Notes & Inspirations
- The film was actually shot in May, so all the snow is artificial other than stock shots from previous episodes.
- The Avonlea village backlot had been taken down, so The Pickering Museum Village in Pickering, Ontario doubled for Avonlea. The Pickering Museum village was also used frequently during production of the series.
- All of the interior sets for Rose Cottage, the King House, etc., had to be completely rebuilt from scratch.
- The opening scene of Felix and Elbert in the trenches was shot in an old landfill site North of Toronto.
- Several “Wind at my Back” sets were used including the Train Station and Main Street. The Charlottetown Hospital reception area was actually the New Bedford Hotel Lobby set.