|the old Valley Road - "Purdy Lane"|
When I first ventured past the noisy dog at the top of Ameliasburgh village's Purdy Lane, I wasn't prepared to find all of those elements in one spot.
|Al's stone is the black one beneath the green lilac bush|
But I did, and I go back there often.
And when I visit this spot, I share it with the mortal remains (or the stone marking them) of Al Purdy.
|Owen Roblin 1806-1903|
Al Purdy made a thorough investigation of his new neighbourhood of Ameliasburgh when he and Eurithe became homesteaders on Roblin Lake.
I love his unsentimental justification for falling under the spell of history and land:
"And I got interested in the place
I mean what the hell else could I do
being a little too stupid to ever admit
I was a lousy carpenter and a worse writer?"
Al writes about the early entrepreneur in his long poem In Search of Owen Roblin (1974). Reading it, you immerse yourself in the very history Al was making his own: the UEL settlement story, the early industrial saga, the people who made the village, and made it their home.
|Grove Cemetery, Ameliasburgh|
ten years later traded lots with one John Way
to build his mill and stone house
then an octagonal one for his children's children
But the mill was torn down last year..."
I mentioned that I had obtained a photo with deep meaning for me, at the silent auction at the recent memorable Purdy event in Toronto. This is the image of Al that I have above my desk.
|'my' John Reeves photo of Al|
Al, on my favourite bit of Prince Edward County. He's looking toward the gravestone of Owen Roblin. And thinking some of the same thoughts that I probably think when I'm in that place. He did a better job of getting them on paper.
This is from the auction catalogue of the Purdy gala, February 6 at Koerner Hall:
"In November 1965 photographer John Reeves made a visit to the A-frame. He was there to photograph Al for a magazine article. Only a few photos from that day have ever been published, including the one that appears on page 63 of The Al Purdy A-frame Anthology. At the request of Jean Baird, Reeves went through his archives and selected twelve photographs from the shoot. Al at Roblin Lake, at the gravesite of Owen Roblin, in front of the A-frame. Reeves was clearly on a mission."