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Posted: September 23, 2001

AMELIASBURGH - On Sunday, the Prince Edward County Public Library board held a dedication ceremony to rename its Ameliasburgh branch "The Al Purdy Library" in honour of the longtime Ameliasburgh resident who penned 33 books before cancer took his life in April of 2000.
His widow, Eurithe Purdy, and their son, Jim, were on hand to unveil the new sign in front of the former schoolhouse south of Belleville that will now immortalize the author of Beyond Remembering: The Collected Poems of Al Purdy, Reaching for the Beaufort Sea: An Autobiography, Rooms for Rent in the Outer Planets: Selected Poems 1962-1996, To Paris Never Again and Starting from Ameliasburgh: The Collected Prose of Al Purdy.

"Al would have been embarrassed by everything here today but very pleased as well," said Eurithe Purdy. "I am completely thrilled about the whole thing, with the fact that Al will be remembered here for a long time. And we are very appreciative of the whole effort that went into it."

Jim Purdy said his dad would have been humbled by the honour bestowed on him during the afternoon ceremony held under brilliant sunshine and at a facility just a stone's throw from where his parents have called home on Roblin Lake for many years. "He said that his poetry gave him some form of immortality and I really feel the renaming of the library in honour of him would have pleased him enormously," Jim Purdy said. "He was a great writer; to be remembered in a library is excellent, really."

The internationally acclaimed poet also has his name attached to another piece of Ameliasburgh history. A decade ago, county council renamed Hill Street leading into the Harry Smith Conservation Area and Grove Cemetery as Purdy Lane. Ameliasburgh Councillor Robert Bell met Purdy for the first time at that ceremony in 1991 and he said he will always remember what the imposing figure of a poet said to him. "I've had people walk on me and now they can drive over me," Bell recalled, much to the delight of the dozens of people gathered for the library rededication ceremony. Other speakers included the local Mayor, MPP Ernie Parsons and writers and longtime Purdy friends Janet Lunn and Linda Rogers.
Written with files from the Belleville Intelligencer Copyright 2001 Photograph by Henry Bury