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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Help wanted

Al Purdy's grandfather looms large in his poetry and prose. In Search of Owen Roblin takes us to the lumber camp world of the early 1850's in Upper Canada.

"And there's my grandfather
a personal family myth as real as hamburger
only 18 years old in 1858 when the roads were built
wearing home-made boots, looking for his first job
in lumber camps at Renfrew and Farrell's Landing
tramping the Opeongo line..."

Now admittedly, neither the work nor the world are quite that difficult now, but this spring as we clear up branches fallen during last winter's ice storm, and detritus from some tree-felling at the A-frame, we are channelling the aching bodies, the sweat, the insects...and the satisfaction that comes from making a difference.

Should you come by and spy some piles of branches or twigs still lying about, here's your recipe for satisfaction: grab a rake and a wheelbarrow, should you find one, and move a pile or two of twigs and leaves to the spot just east of the A-frame, to join the others. If you find some larger branches, they can be hauled up the hill to a spot beside the driveway, where they will wait for the chipper. Firewood is still waiting to know where it will go. Save your energy, don't move it.

And should you find our contactor Matti onsite, he can suggest a number of other needful tasks. Satisfaction guaranteed.


  1. I stumbled across your blog, and have to comment on the "Poems To Remember" picture you use. I have a copy of this book (somewhere!). In it is mentioned that W.H.Davies, another poet. lost his leg due to a mishap when he attempted to jump a train here in Renfrew. Growing up here, I found that pretty interesting!

  2. Great story, great connection for you. Our Canadian poets are a rugged lot. Hope you revisit the Purdy blog often.