Three new Canadian writers chosen for A-frame residency

March 4, 2015

For immediate release

AMELIASBURGH, Ont. – Three Canadian writers have been chosen to join the original seven in working retreats at the Al Purdy A-frame house in Prince Edward County. Among the three is the first appointment acknowledging and encouraging academic research.

The three new participants are Nicholas Bradley, Sadiqa de Meijer and Ben Ladouceur, all of whom will take up residence in 2016.

Four previously announced writers will be in residence in 2015-16. They are Kath MacLean, Laurie Graham, Helen Guri and Rob Taylor.

“In addition to welcoming our first researcher in 2016, we hope to add a workshop as early as  this summer,” said Jean Baird, president of the Al Purdy A-frame Association. Details will be made public at a later date, Baird said.

The A-frame was built on Roblin Lake in 1957 by the late Al Purdy, one of Canada’s greatest 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 three new writers-in-residence designated for 2016 are:

Nicholas Bradley, June 2016. Currently the William Lyon Mackenzie King Research Fellow at Harvard University, Bradley will be the first research writer-in-residence, which is limited to one a year. He is an Associate Professor at the University of Victoria (B.C.) and recently edited and published We Go Back in Time: The Letters of Earle Birney and Al Purdy.

Sadiqa de Meijer, July 2016, grand prize winner of the 2012 CBC Canada Writes Poetry Prize. Her debut collection, Leaving Howe Island, was a nominee for the Governor General’s Award for English-language poetry in 2014. Sadiqa lives in Kingston, Ont.

Ben Ladouceur, September to November 2016, is a poet, editor and teacher living in Toronto. He was the winner of the Earle Birney Poetry Prize in 2013. His first book of poetry, Otter, is being published this spring.

Previously announced writers-in-residence:

Kath MacLean, April-June 2015. Her award-winning poetry, prose and non-fiction have been critically acclaimed across Canada. Author of  for a cappuccino on Bloor (winner of the New Muse Award) and Kat Among the Tigers, the Edmonton resident has also released a performance poetry CD, Seed Bone & Hammer.

Laurie Graham, July 2015, a native of Alberta, lives in Toronto and is a teacher and the assistant editor of Brick magazine. Her first collection of poetry, Rove, was published by Hagios Press in Fall 2013.

Helen Guri, October-November 2015, is the author of Match, a collection of poems published by Coach House Books in 2011. Her poetry column on Random House of Canada’s Hazlitt website was nominated for a National Magazine Award in 2013. She is currently working on her second collection of poetry, tentatively titled Oracle. Helen lives in Toronto.

Rob Taylor, April-May 2016, is the author of The Other Side of Ourselves, a collection of poems published in 2011 by Cormorant Books. He is working on a master’s degree in creative writing at the University of British Columbia, and on a second collection of poems.

The Al Purdy A-frame Association gratefully acknowledges the generosity of all donors to the project. They are crucial to the success of this effort.

Special thanks are extended to major donors ($5,000 to $55,000): The Glasswaters Foundation, The Good Foundation, Avie Bennett, The Metcalf Foundation, George Galt, The Chawkers Foundation, Michael Audain, Jeff Mooney and Suzanne Bolton, Leonard Cohen, Rosemary Tannock, Tom and Helen Galt, The Scott Griffin Foundation, Harbour Publishing, and Yosef Wosk.

For a full list of donors, go to

Fundraising efforts continue and are critical to the success of the writer-in-residence program. Online donations are being accepted through PayPal at, or cheques may be sent to The Al Purdy A-frame Trust, 4403 West 11th Ave., Vancouver, B.C. V6R 2M2.

For further information:

Steven Heighton: 613-546-9677

Jean Baird:



The Purdy Songbook

Announcing the Purdy Songbook, a fundraiser for the Al Purdy A-frame Trust.

Sometimes, when you listen closely to Al’s  poetry, you can hear music. In some poems it’s spelled out. “The Freezing Music” takes us to a place where “lake water sings into ice.” In “The Dead Poet,” Al hears “the music of blood on the Street of the Silversmiths.”
Now Al Purdy’s words are giving life to some actual music with THE AL PURDY SONGBOOK. This is a new venture to raise money and awareness for the A-Frame a benefit album of original music inspired by Al’s life and work, distributed by Universal Music Canada.
This crowd-funding campaign will raise money for recording. And a slice of all major donations will go directly to the A-Frame. Donors can sign up for all kinds of exciting rewards, from early editions of Purdy to naming rights for parts of the A-Frame. Full details at the link below:

Purdy Drinks III @ the Monarch Tavern in Toronto

Please join us for an evening of poetry and music!

Purdy Drinks III

All proceeds help the Al Purdy A-Frame Association with its restoration of the A-Frame and writers-in-residence program. Featuring performances from Canada’s first poet laureate George Bowering, Griffin poetry prize winner David McFadden, amazing spoken word artist Ian Kamau, and the first Writer-in-Residence Katherine Leyton. Al Purdy items will also be available for sale!
Facebook event HERE

The A-Frame Residency

             The A-frame house at the edge of Roblin Lake was built in 1957 by Al Purdy and his wife Eurithe, who had set aside $1200 dollars from CBC radio plays Al had written in Montreal. They bought a piece of land and a load of used buildings material from a structure being torn down in Belleville, then set to work, building from architect’s plans ordered from a popular magazine. As Al made clear in his autobiography, Reaching for the Beaufort Sea, in the first years they endured fierce cold and poverty and worry. “But Roblin Lake in summer, planting seeds and watching things grow; doing a marathon swim across the lake while Eurithe accompanied me in a rowboat; working at the house, making it grow into something that nearly matched the structure already in your mind. Owls came by night, whoo-whooing in a row of cedars above the house; blue herons stalked our shallows; muskrats splashed the shoreline; and I wrote poems.” At 39 Al was a little known poet, still publishing what he later decided was bad poetry. He called a book from that period The Crafte So Long to Lerne. But he and Eurithe hung on, and in the following years, Al’s poetry took a new turn and his reputation began to grow. In 1965 he won the Governor-General’s Award for The Cariboo Horses.

            Many of Al Purdy’s best-known poems were written in Ameliasburgh, a lot of them derived from the history and geography of the village. He lived in the A-frame house—which was gradually improved and expanded—for many years, and he spent at least part of every year at Ameliasburgh until his death in 2000. He and Eurithe were always warm and welcoming to writers who came to visit, and dozens—some would say  hundreds—did. There is surely no house in Canada so strongly connected with an important poet and his literary community.

            The Purdy house is now the site of the A-Frame Residency Program, under which writers are offered a time and place to work in a location that is attractive and of historic significance. Each year between April 1 and November 30 the house will be open for the residency. Writers who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents may apply for a term of one to three months. The residency will be open to all writers, but preference will be given to poetry and poetry projects. Each year the jury will also consider proposals for a one-month project in critical writing about Canadian poetry and will be open to unusual and creative ideas for residencies.

Travel to Ameliasburgh will be paid. Those awarded the residency will be given a stipend of $2500 dollars ($2,000 honorarium and $500 travel) a month[1] while living in the A-frame, and will be free to spend their time on their writing. Residents will be expected to participate in one public event for each month of their stay—the event could be a reading, lecture, workshop, an event in a local school or some other literary activity—and to consider other reasonable requests. These events will take place in one of the larger communities nearby, Picton, Belleville, Kingston. As well there is an event at the Town Hall in Ameliasburgh each April to coincide with National Poetry Month and National Al Purdy Day, April 21. All this will be organized in collaboration with the Prince Edward County Arts Council, and a dedicated group in Ameliasburgh and the local area. Residents will be offered a temporary library card for the excellent library at Queen’s University in Kingston, where many of Al Purdy’s papers are held. Those awarded a residency will be asked to donate at least one copy of one of their books to the Residency Library. Writers in residence will also be encouraged to make themselves known at the Purdy Library in Ameliasburgh and to donate a book. They may also wish to discuss with the local liaison the possibility of working with local schools.

Applications should include:

  • A brief professional curriculum vitae (max. 2 pages)
  •  A plan for your residency at the A-frame (max. 2 pages)
  • A letter of reference (if desired by the candidate)
  • A 10-20 page sample of recent writing. 


Applicants should propose alternate residency dates if possible.

Four hard copies of the application and the accompanying material should be sent to:

Jean Baird

The Al Purdy A-frame Association

4403 West 11th Ave.,

Vancouver BC V6R 2M2.

Electronic copies of the same files should be emailed to Please send one email with all documents and a subject line that includes your name and “2016 residency application.”

Any questions can be addressed to

Applications for the calendar year 2016 will close on October 17, 2014—mailed materials must be postmarked October 17, 2014 or before. Electronic copies must be received by 4 p.m PT.

[1] Pending successful fundraising

Drama/Poetry/Music at Rednersville Aug. 30

Hello friends
I’m getting in touch to remind you of the outstanding Al Purdy A-Frame Association fund-raiser being held at Active Arts Studio in Rednersville, Prince Edward County, on Saturday August 30 starting at 3PM. I have no doubt it will be sensational. And a sell-out. Three performances – drama, poetry and music – all in support of the A-frame writer in residence program and ongoing restoration of the property (Al’s writing room is the next project.)

I have seen Richard Turtle perform the David Carley play once – and look forward to his amazing Purdy portrayal again. Remarkable actor.

Gerry Shatford’s CD is one of my favourite jazz albums – and the fact that each of the original compositions was inspired by the poetry of Al Purdy makes the music even more enjoyable. Drop by the Purdy blog later for a review.

For the third part of the program, the A-frame’s first writer in residence, Katherine Leyton will be sharing some of her summer work. An historic moment for poetry!

Now, here’s the pitch. I know we all like to wait ’til the last minute to decide, but our host for the event, Jeff Keary, needs to have some confidence that he can meet expenses – and that’s before we begin to make some much-needed funds for the APAFA!

So drop by  Active Arts Studio for the details. Click on the Eventbrite link to book ($50 gets you three original performances, plus food and a Barley Days ‘Sensitive Man’ beer!)

Please pass on this message, and – see you there!

–Lindi Pierce

Second Purdy Picnic Packed

With its first writer-in-residence now calling the iconic Al Purdy A-frame home, the second annual Al Purdy Picnic attracted a large crowd of poets, writers and lovers of literature…read more at Inside Belleville:


2nd Annual Purdy Picnic Features Readings, Music

Guess Who’s Coming to the Picnic?


  • McClelland and Stewart/Random House of Canada
    To Sponsor Inaugural Residency
  • 2nd Annual Purdy Picnic Features Readings, Music


July 26 is a day to celebrate at the Al Purdy A-frame! In addition to it being the date of the 2nd annual Al Purdy Picnic, McClelland and Stewart/Random House of Canada will announce a major sponsorship of the A-frame’s inaugural residency.

“Mentoring emerging writers was a second vocation for Al,” said Jean Baird, president of the Al Purdy A-frame Association. “The door to the A-frame was always open … I’m pleased that McClelland and Stewart have joined the lengthy list of donors to the Association. The sponsorship keeps that door open.”

On July 1, Toronto poet Katherine Leyton became the first writer to take up residence at the late Canadian poet’s lakeside cottage in Ameliasburgh, in Ontario’s beautiful Prince Edward County.


“McClelland and Stewart/Random House of Canada is extremely pleased to sponsor this first residency at the A-frame,” said publisher Ellen Seligman. “M&S was Al Purdy’s longtime publisher. He would have been so proud – as we all are – to help support the next generation of poets.”

The A-frame was built on Roblin Lake in 1957 by the late Purdy, one of Canada’s greatest 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 A-frame Association, a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote Canadian literature and to preserve the retreat for future generations of Canadian writers.

Six other writers have been selected and are scheduled to take up residence at the cottage through 2015.

The picnic on Saturday is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will feature readings by well-known poets Stuart Ross, Phil Hall, Robert Priest and other raconteurs. Music will be provided by Station Road. Visitors may purchase lunch from PicnicPEC’s food truck or bring their own.

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

The Al Purdy A-frame Association gratefully acknowledges the generosity of all donors to the project, as well as volunteers who helped in the restoration. They are crucial to the continued success of this effort. For a full list of donors, go to

For further information:

Jean Baird



Clara Blackwood, Michael Lista, Robert Priest & Suzannah Showler  . . .

On the same stage, this coming Monday June 23rd, at the Monarch Tavern.  Tickets will be 10$ at the door.

In addition to the price of the ticket, $1 from each drink sold will go towards the ongoing updating of the Al & Eurithe Purdy A-Frame.  Other Purdy-related items will be available for purchase and offered through a silent auction, including hand-made prints of the A-Frame by Amanda Lowthian, and Al Purdy buttons & magnets.

Purdy Drinks 2 PosterMore information at the FACEBOOK EVENT HERE:

More about Michael Lista

More about Suzannah Showler

More about Clara Blackwood

More about Robert Priest

Preparing for the first Writer-in-Residence

Our first writer, Katherine Leyton, will move into the A-Frame on July 1st, now only a couple of weeks away!  Because of this there has been a tremendous push on amongst the local A-Framers to get things cleaned up and finished before she gets there.  Our contractor, Matti Kopamees, has been working hard on the construction-end of things, moving earth around, replacing trim, (re)installing wood paneling.  Over the past month however, on the weekends at least, he has not been alone at the A-Frame.  He has been joined by many fine volunteers, moving stones, gravel & dirt, planting flowers, building a fire-pit, installing the deck-boards on the south deck, painting, and cleaning, cleaning cleaning!

Here are some photos of last weekend’s crew, composed almost entirely of members of Katherine Leyton’s family:

Pictured in the group shot are (from left to right): Barbara Leyton, Paul Leyton, Eurithe Purdy, Brian Burrows, Ray Burrows, Marie Newman, Ron Atherly, & Matti Kopamees.

Amanda Lowthian

In this ongoing quest to save the Al & Eurithe Purdy A-Frame and to repurpose it as a residence for up and coming writers, we have had the pleasure of meeting many inspiring and wonderful folk. No doubt in no small amount due to the enduring power of Al’s poetry, kind, interesting, and multi-talented people keep appearing, seemingly out of nowhere, to help us out. One such person is Amanda Lowthian.

Amanda initially encountered the A-Frame a number of years ago on a high school field trip in which she and her classmates were encouraged to make sketches of the building. Inspired, she then used these sketches to come up with a very compelling lino-print, distilling the form of the building to its essential qualities. We were floored when we first saw it, and, with her blessing, immediately adopted it as a promotional and fundraising tool.

We are now making special editions of this print, printed at Coach House books, available for purchase. The first batch of them will be at the Purdy Drinks II event held at the Monarch Tavern next week (Monday June 23rd).   If you will not be able to make it, please get in contact and we would be more than happy to send one.
Below are some photos of Amanda printing the new run: