Praise and Support For Al Purdy and the A-frame Association

“What I like about the current effort to maintain the Purdy residence is that it is not intended to become some kind of a museum. Instead it will become an active present day writer’s residency. I love this double stroke of preserving our past while seeding our future.”—Robert Priest, poet, lyricist

“Purdy got to be one of the best poets of his generation and he was so gregarious that he became a vortex of cultural energy that was irresistible attraction to literary types like me… The omphalos of Purdy’s world was Ameliasburgh and Roblin Lake. He made the place sing to his readers, and his poems sing to new readers still, which is why it’s appropriate that his statue stands in the centre of Toronto, another centre of the country he loved so much. But at the navel of the world he both lived in and created stands the house he built with his own hands at a time in his life when it looked like he was getting nowhere in the writing world. It’s packed with stories. A dear shaggy spirit haunts it. For the love of that huge, indelible presence, and for the good of our collective soul, let’s make damn sure it’s preserved.”—Stan Dragland, poet, professor emeritus University of Western Ontario

It’s a poor culture that bulldozes its history, or values its creators only for their income-generating abilities. Culture is more than money, more than the basic value of real estate. And that’s why it’s so important to save the Purdy house by the lake, the house where the many conversations of the past launched the literature of today. It’s an important touchstone that needs to be preserved.  If we can’t protect our past how can we create our future?”—Brian Brett, poet

“Al Purdy’s retreat and subsequent open house for friends/poets must not be a footnote, but a footstep forward.”—David Brydges, Artistic Director, Spring Pulse Poetry Festival, Cobalt ON

“On August 8, 1991 I visited Al Purdy at his house on Roblin Lake. Al was working on his memoir, Reaching for the Beaufort Sea. Al showed me around the property, pointing out the Ameliasburgh Church across the way, which he had made famous in his poem, “Wilderness Gothic.” The interview lasted three hours and during this time I was aware of the importance of this place in his life… I have interviewed many writers, but none of the residences created such a strong and lasting influence as my visit to Al’s house… What are we saying to the world as a country, if we can erect a statue to him on the grounds of the Ontario Provincial Legislature, but destroy his house. Al Purdy’s house of Roblin Lake is not only a part of our cultural heritage, but also an integral part of our history.”—Dr. Laurence Hutchman, Moncton University

“As a co-owner and the administrator of the Elizabeth Bishop House Artists’ Retreat in Great Village, Nova Scotia, I have first-hand understanding and experience of how important it is for writers and artists to have access to places of retreat, places where they can step outside the busy rush of daily life and earning a living to focus on their work… A healthy country is one in which its artists’ legacies are honoured and built upon. There are few things more important to artists than a room of their own (even a temporary retreat space) and financial support.”—Sandra Barry, Elizabeth Bishop House

“I can think of no other property which has its associations with so much that has happened—in the development of Canadian poetry. How extraordinarily fitting this would be if Al Purdy’s A-frame could become the focal centre for writers, a place for retreat, and a place for the composition, as it has been in the past, for some of the finest poetry Canada has offered the world.”—David Staines, University of Ottawa

“Al brought Prince Edward County into the celebrated annals of our literary life.  His house needs to be preserved and cherished, and definitely renewed for use by the literary community as a retreat or artistic centre. Over the decades we have been remiss to preserve the homes of our writers and artists and they have fallen victim to neglect and demolition.  Let us not let Al’s memorable home vanish from our landscape. If we honour ourselves and our cultural heritage, we will surely ensure the preservation of Al Purdy’s house and memorialize his celebrated contribution to Canadian letters.—Seymour Mayne, Professor, Coordinator, Creative Writing, Department of English, Coordinator, Vered Jewish Canadian Studies Program/Institute of Canadian Studies/, University of Ottawa

“The preservation of this home is akin to the preservation of Canadian literary history”—Margaret Atwood, poet

“There are times when a building is worth more than its parts and this is one of them.”—Grace Colella, poet, teacher

“But we do need to recognise how bad we Canadians are at preserving the places that enshrine our literary heritage. Some of us remember with bitterness how Hugh MacLennan’s boyhood home in Halifax, from which he went out to see the aftermath of the explosion he was later to write about in Barometer Rising; in the 1970s that house was destroyed to create a parking lot. What will happen to Alice Munro’s girlhood home in Wingham is an interesting question. I hope we can prevent the destruction of the famous Purdy A-frame, and preserve it as an important piece of our history. I am glad to lend my support to this important cause.”
Doug Gibson, publisher

“That small spot in an odd corner of Eastern Ontario became the focus for Purdy’s travels real and imaginary. He made the little lake the mirror of his universe. He built the house to write poetry in, and he filled it with poems.”—David Helwig

Canadians have, in the past, been incredibly proud of their country. But, somehow we have had a nasty habit of bulldozing our heritage. Despite protests, we bulldozed Hugh MacLennan’s house. George Woodcock’s home which hosted decades of literary discussion is gone. In all-nations report cards we score low on culture, history and heritage. We should go to work to save the A-frame and we’ve been given the opportunity. Let’s show how important we regard fine people like Al Purdy.—Mel Hurtig