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Friday, December 28, 2012

Hearing Music on a Tombstone

Owen Roblin 1806-1903

Al Purdy and Owen Roblin would likely have liked each other. I imagine Roblin to be like Al's grandfather Rid - a work-toughened man who lived life as he saw it. Uncompromising.

Al Purdy remembered this ambitious pioneer's life in several poems. I enjoy Music on a Tombstone because it honours some of the buildings Roblin brought into being.

the Ameliasburgh millpond

"In Roblin's Mills old Owen Roblin
came almost fully awake in his lifetime once
owned six houses and built an octagonal one"..

and describes Roblin dreaming of his
industrial empire, "his potash works and the sawmill hearing only the hard tusked music of wheels turning"

Most of the buildings associated with Owen Roblin are gone today, but a few remain to recall when Roblin "built a gristmill and a village gradually grew round it and the deep woods vanished..."

selected lines from Music on A Tombstone (The Cariboo Horses)

Although Owen Roblin's mill is gone, he made an enduring contribution to Canadian letters through Al Purdy. Their gravestones lie closeby each other, in the old valley cemetery in Ameliasburgh, near the original townsite which once stood by Way's mill.

Al's memorial to left

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