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


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:

For those in Ottawa, or in its immediate environs, this is an event that is not to be missed.

Bruce Cockburn supports APAFA

The Spur Festival in Ottawa will be running from May 8th-10th.  As part of this festival, The Al Purdy A-Frame Association is co-programming an event of music, poetry, talk, and general Al Purdy fun, featuring none other than Bruce Cockburn, Marni Jackson, and Anne Fenn!

More information can be found here:

Seven Canadian Writers Chosen for Residency

Seven Canadian writers chosen for A-frame residency in first two years

January 21, 2014For immediate release
AMELIASBURGH, Ont. – Seven Canadian writers have been chosen for the first working retreats at the Al Purdy A-frame house in Prince Edward County. They were chosen from dozens of submissions.
The seven are Katherine Leyton, Sue Sinclair, Nick Thran, Kath MacLean, Laurie Graham, Rob Taylor and Helen Guri.
“I’m so excited about the projects,” said Jean Baird, president of the Al Purdy A-frame Association. “The first writer-in-residence will be in the house by July.”
The A-frame house 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, a cottage beside Roblin Lake, 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 hundreds of others.
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 $40,000): 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 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 Association, 4403 West 11th Ave., Vancouver, B.C. V6R 2M2.
For further information:Steven Heighton: 613-546-9677Jean Baird:
Biographies of the writers-in-residence are found below.

The Al Purdy A-frame Writers-in-Residence, 2014-2015

Katherine Leyton lives in Toronto. Her work has been published in various reviews and newspapers, including The Edinburgh Review, The Malahat Review and The Globe and Mail. She is the founder of, a video poetry blog. In addition to working on her own writing at the A-frame, Katherine plans to travel in the region and through her blog promote the poetry of Al Purdy and other local poets.
Sue Sinclair is a highly acclaimed poet and novelist living in Montreal. Among her published works are four books of poetry and three novels. Sue is completing a PhD in philosophy, and at the A-frame will work on a series of poems investigating theories of beauty, including its relationship with human technology.
Nick Thran is a widely published writer of poetry and prose. His book of poems titled Earworm won the 2012 Trillium Book Award for Poetry. He will undertake two projects during his time at the A-frame: completing work on poems for his third manuscript, and an essay incorporating his experience at Roblin Lake and what it means to be a Canadian poet in today’s social and political environment. Nick lives in Montreal.
Kath MacLean, a writer and filmmaker living in Edmonton, spent a week with Al and Eurithe Purdy when they lived in Victoria, B.C., and looks forward to residing where Al did so much of his writing. She will be working on a collection of poems based on the actions, manners and etiquette of characters found in the Nancy Drew mystery series. And as a certified Ontario teacher, she proposes to involve local students in the project.
Laurie Graham plans to use her time at the A-frame to complete a series of poems about the North-West Resistance, tracking events involving the Cree, Métis and government forces in the spring of 1885. It is a time-consuming and research-heavy project supported by a 2012 Canada Council grant. Laurie, a native of Alberta, lives in Toronto and is assistant editor of Brick magazine. Her first collection of poetry, Rove, was published by Hagios Press in Fall 2013.
Rob Taylor 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. Al Purdy’s writing has had a major influence on Rob’s style, and working at the A-frame will be like a homecoming for him. He plans outreach with the local community to promote and expand the writer-in-residence project.
Helen Guri 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 plans to continue work on her second collection of poetry, tentatively titled Oracle, during her residency at the A-frame. Helen lives in Toronto.



About the Al Purdy A-frame Project:

So we built a house, my wife and I
our house at a backwater puddle of a lake
near Ameliasburg, Ont.
–Al Purdy “In Search of Owen Roblin”

And that A-frame house, made out of second-hand lumber and original poetry, became the most famous writer’s house in the country. Hundreds of writers and their housemates found their way to Roblin Lake to visit the Purdys and talk about poetry and history while downing beer or wild grape wine. Coleridge and his friends had their lake country, and now the Canadian poets would have theirs. A lot of poetry and prose came out of that hard-to-find place.

To prevent its second-hand wood from ending up on someone’s scrap heap, and with the blessing and support of Al’s widow, Eurithe Purdy, The Purdy A-frame Association raised funds to purchase the property and is now raising more funds to preserve it, create an endowment and establish a poet-in-residence program.


FRAME FOR (A)FRAME: A benefit premiere of the independent Canadian
feature film “The Shape of Rex” was held in support of the Al Purdy A frame. All proceeds were for the ongoing restoration of the A Frame as a writers’ retreat.Friday, June 7th, the Royal Cinema, 608 College St., Toronto 7 p.m. 

Film critic Brian D. Johnson hosted, and presented his short film about Al Purdy. Co-Directors, Layne Coleman and Bill Hominuke, and Vivian Endicott-Douglas,
the actress nominated for an ACTRA award for her performance in “The Shape of Rex”, will be present. Reception took place afterwards at The Midtown, DJed by Casey Johnson. Event was a great success and raised $550.00 for the A-frame. 


What a Fabulous Night it Was!

Over 700 came out to Koerner Hall in Toronto Feb. 6 for a great evening of music by Gord Downie, the Bidiniband and Skydigger with readings by Margaret Atwood, Gordon Pinsent, Michael Enright, Karen Solie, George Elliot Clarke, Ken Babstock, George Bowering, Dennis Lee, Phil Hall, and others, in what one veteran literary event attendee called “the best event I ever attended.” The jamboree raised over $40,000 toward the renovation of the the Al Purdy A-frame, which assures it will be preserved and serving as a writer’s residence in the near future. Thanks to all who attended and all who helped.