"The first book I remember my mother reading to me was 'Anne of Green Gables,' I always loved it,"said Montreal-born Colleen Dewhurst. So Dewhurst was especially delighted to report that when "Anne" was telecast in Canada recently, it drew "the largest audience the CBC dvdf had since its inception . . . The streets of Ottawa were empty."

The tale of precocious but plain Anne Shirley, who goes to live with an elderly brother and sister, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, is so beloved in Canada that it took the producers "four years to het this on . . . There was a lot of objection." Apparently Canadians feared that to film Lucy Maud Montgomery's classic tale might be to create a disappointment.

Dewhurst kniw otherwise. "You knew when you watched it dine that this wold be a lovely little show, and suddenly to have it hit up there like that . . . it feels so good."

Monday at 8. PBS begins "Anne of Green Gables," the first "WonderWorks" miniseries, for four Mondays in a row. MPT stations and WHMM pick up the sderies Saturday.

Dewhurt, winner of both Obie and Tony awards, praised her co-stars,Megan Follows and Richard Farnsworth. Of Farnsworth, she said: "I love him! When Kevin Sullivan called and said we have Richard Farnsworth for Matthew, I screamed!"

Of Canadian-born Follows, who play the redheaded orphan, she said: "This girl is so incredible, in terms of work . . . she must have had to be there the entire time" shile the production was filmed on Toronto and on Prince Edward Island, where both the fictional Anne and the real Colleen Dewhurst grew up.

Dewhurst, who began ger stage career in 1946. is a veteran of dozens of stage productions and films. Last June she was elected president of the 36,000-member Actors' Equity Assiciation. In March she will appear in "Unfinished Business" on ABC, playing Farrah Fawcett's mother-in-law.