|Eurithe and architect Duncan|
Although she is a determined woman, and accustomed to getting things done, Eurithe Purdy may well be pinching herself. For the desperate hope that the dilapidated A-frame cottage on Roblin Lake - where she and husband Al Purdy lived some of their worst and best years together and where Al's legendary career as a great Canadian poet took hold - might be saved from demolition has been realized.
Years of grassroots work by area volunteers, coordinated by local educator Michele Lintern-Mole, helped to maintain the cottage and raise funds and awareness. Clean-up work parties by local high school students from Centennial Secondary School, the restoration of the Purdy privy by Trenton High School students, and the famous auction of household effects (who wouldn't want an ash-tray where Margaret Laurence might have stubbed a literary cigarette?) are part of the local A-frame legend.
|Michele on the Picnic stage|
On the other side of the country, Jean Baird, editor, literary activist, and founder of the non-profit Al Purdy A-frame Association, spearheaded ambitious awareness-building and fund-raising. High profile fund-raising events in Toronto and Ottawa, successful grant applications and generous donations by individuals and foundations have moved the dream closer to reality. The Al Purdy A-frame Association, with national and local representation on its board, orchestrated the purchase of the A-frame in 2012.
Not only has the A-frame been saved, but it is being restored, and will be welcoming writers in residence starting this July. The long-held goal of the APAFA has been to renovate the A-frame so that it can serve as a residence for developing Canadian writers. The first call for writer in residence applications went out in the spring of 2013; the 2014/15 writers have been selected. On July 1, 2014 the A-frame will welcome Toronto based poet Katherine Leyton, and in August, writers Nick Thran and Sue Sinclair will take up residence for the fall months. Here's a link to Katherine's 'howpedestrian' project, coming to Ameliasburgh this summer.
|a rare moment of leisure - Matti|
The A-frame has been saved, but the ongoing support of the local and national community is critical to its success.
So much work has been done. Over the past year, contractor Matti Kopamees has orchestrated the installation of a new power pole and connection to the cottage, completely new wiring in the A-frame, and replacement of all the plumbing. Water in the crawlspace which threatened the structure has been eliminated by perimeter weeping tile and a hard-working sump pump. A collapsed foundation wall (discovered when the deck was temporarily moved) has been rebuilt. Rotted barn-board has been renewed, windows have been replaced or rebuilt. A new water tank and heater have been installed, and a ceiling fan has appeared in the A-frame ceiling.
But there is lots still to do: finish carpentry inside the A-frame, trim painting outside. Deck-moving. If funds permit, deck building and roofing. Lawn work. Cleaning. All to create a comfortable and welcoming home at the A-frame.
To that end, two working weekends are planned at the Purdy A-frame, Saturday May 24 and Sunday May 25, Saturday June 7 and Sunday June 8. Invitations have been sent to folks already signed up with the Friends of the A-frame. If you don't get an email, come anyway, and bring a friend.
To join the network, contact Lindi at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information visit www.alpurdy.ca, the Al Purdy A-frame Association Facebook page, or the 'In Search of Al Purdy' blog at purdysearch.blogspot.ca.
The summer of 2014 will see a list of events planned to celebrate the A-frame, its history, and the writers who will now find inspiration inside its slanted walls:
July 5 - Purdy Library Ameliasburgh. Welcome reception for Katherine Leyton
July 26 - Second Annual Purdy Picnic at the Purdy A-frame
August 30 - Active Arts Studio, Rednersville. Richard Turtle's performance of David Carley's play 'Al Purdy at the Quinte Hotel' and Katherine Leyton's video of her summer's work (howpedestrian.ca) at the A-frame. (Tentative: 'When I Sat Down to Play the Piano' - Pianist-composer Gerry Shatford and his jazz trio performing original jazz compositions inspired by the poetry of Al Purdy.
early September - welcome event for Nick Thran and Sue Sinclair
October - guided literary walking tour of Ameliasburgh
You are invited. Be part of the ongoing story being written at the Al and Eurithe Purdy A-frame. Step into the A-frame.
Ongoing financial support is critical to the mission of the APAFA and the Purdy A-frame writer in residence program. Visit the website (www.alpurdy.ca) to make a donation, or sponsor a fixture. Consider how you will feel to have your donation of a baseboard heater or writing cabin ceiling plaqued at the A-frame.