AMELIASBURGH, Ont. – Eight Canadian writers have been chosen to take up residence at the Al Purdy A-frame for the 2023 season, the 10th year the writer-in-residence program has welcomed artists to the shores of Roblin Lake in Prince Edward County.

“What seemed like a good idea when fundraising began in 2008 is now a real success story,” said Jean Baird, president of the Al Purdy A-frame Association. “I cannot overstate the Association’s pride in having restored the A-frame as a literary destination, and to all who have contributed to this effort.”

The latest contribution is the Yann Martel Matched Fundraising Campaign aimed at a major upgrade to the lakeside retreat scheduled for 2024. Contributions can be made at the addresses below.

The A-frame was built on Roblin Lake in 1957 by the late Al Purdy, one of Canada’s best-known poets, and his wife, Eurithe. Thanks to the generosity of Eurithe Purdy and donors from across Canada, the A-frame was acquired in 2012 by the Al Purdy A-frame Association, a national non-profit organization with a mandate to promote Canadian literature and to preserve the home as a retreat for future generations of Canadian writers.

The A-frame was the centre of Purdy’s writing universe and a crossroads on Canada’s literary map. In their 43 years there, the Purdys hosted a who’s who of Canadian authors: Margaret Laurence, Milton Acorn, H.R. Percy, Michael Ondaatje, and dozens of others.

The Association began welcoming writers in 2014 after an extensive restoration of the A-frame. This year’s group will bring to 49 the number of writers who have spent time working on projects, many of which went on to win literary prizes.

The eight writers on retreat in 2023 are:

Matthew Hollett is a writer and photographer in St. John’s, Newfoundland (Ktaqmkuk). His work explores landscape and memory through photography, writing and walking. Album Rock (Boulder Books, 2018), his first book, is a work of creative nonfiction and poetry investigating a curious photograph taken in Newfoundland in the 1850s. He won the 2020 CBC Poetry Prize for “Tickling the Scar,” a poem about walking the Lachine Canal during the early days of the pandemic. His poetry collection Optic Nerve is forthcoming from Brick Books in 2023.

Paul Elter and his partner lived in remote cabins in the Yukon and raised three children with few modern conveniences. His work focuses on belonging and place, personal storytelling, travel, struggle and displacement, the outsider and what living in the space between historical past and contemporary present can mean. Elter currently lives in Chelsea, Quebec, and is a photographer at the National Gallery of Canada. He was the winner of Yukon’s Advanced Artist Award in 2000. Most recent writings include Royal Photographic Society’s “Travel & the Mobile Darkroom, Silver, Salt & the Arctic Ocean” (2020); and “One and Many: Wet-Collodion and Woodburytype” (2021); and a recent lecture for the Colour Fever Symposium at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, England, “Maxwell’s Disappointment- Sutton’s Accident” (2021).

Elena Johnson is the author of Field Notes for the Alpine Tundra (Gaspereau, 2015), a collection of poems written at a remote ecology research station in the Yukon. She is one of the editors of Watch Your Head: Writers and Artists Respond to the Climate Crisis (Coach House, 2021), and has been a finalist for the CBC Literary Awards and the Alfred G. Bailey Prize. Her poetry has also been set to music and performed by choirs in Vancouver and Brooklyn. Originally from New Brunswick, she currently lives on unceded Coast Salish territory in Vancouver, where she works as an editor and writing mentor. The French translation of her book, Notes de terrain pour la toundra alpine (tr. Luba Markovskaia), was published in 2021 and won the John Glassco Prize.

Elyse Friedman is the author of four novels, a book of short stories, and a book of poems. Her work has been shortlisted for the Trillium Book Award, the Toronto Book Award, the ReLit Award, and the Tom Hendry Award. Her short story The Soother won the gold National Magazine Award for fiction, and she has twice won the TIFF–CBC Films Screenwriter Award. Her most recent book is The Opportunist.

Armand Garnet Ruffo is a major contributor to contemporary Indigenous literature and scholarship in Canada. As a poet and writer, he has published extensively, garnering multiple awards, including the 2020 Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize, the 2010 Best Picture Award at the American Indian Film Festival for the feature film A Windigo Tale, and was finalist for Governor General’s Literary Prizes in 2015 and 2019. His latest project is Sounding Thunder: The Song of Francis Pegahmagabow, a musical drama based on the life of the renowned WWI sniper. He is currently National Scholar in Indigenous Literature at Queen’s University in Kingston. Armand was born and raised in the remote town of Chapleau in northern Ontario, and is a band member of the Chapleau Fox Lake Cree First Nation with familial and historical roots to the Sagamok Ojibwe First Nation.

Liam Burke and Manahil Bandukwala are the authors of the chapbook Orbital Cultivation (Collusion Books, 2021), which also appeared as a video game of the same name. Their poem “Can we locate souls in space? The pairing problem, solved” was shortlisted for The Puritan’s 2022 Austin Clarke Poetry Prize. Burke is also the co-author of the chapbook machine dreams (Collusion Books, 2021, co-authored with natalie hanna), which was shortlisted for the 2022 bpNichol Chapbook Award. Bandukwala is the author of MONUMENT (Brick Books, 2022), and is co-lead of Reth aur Reghistan, a multidisciplinary project exploring folklore from Pakistan.

Kirsteen MacLeod writes and teaches yoga in Ka’tarohkwi-Kingston, Ontario. She is working on her first poetry collection, was a finalist for the 2021 CBC Poetry Prize and Arc Poetry’s 2020 Poem of the Year, and is the author of two books, including the award-winning In Praise of Retreat (ECW Press, 2021). Kirsteen divides her time between her lakeside city, and a riverside cabin in the north woods.

Contributions to the Yann Martel Matched Fundraising Campaign can be made here:


or cheques made out to:

The Al Purdy A-frame Association
401–4542 West 10th Ave.,
Vancouver BC
V6R 2J1