The A-frame house poet Al Purdy built in Ontario’s Prince Edward County is in need of saving – again.
After Purdy died in 2000, his wife Eurithe Purdy hoped to sell the property with the idea that it would become a writer’s retreat. Family friend Jean Baird and Purdy’s former publisher Howard White took up the cause, and the Al Purdy A-frame Association was established. Subsequently, a writers’ residency program at the house Purdy built in the 1950s in Ameliasburgh, Ontario, was launched, and the house hosted its first poets-in-residence in the summer of 2014.
But in its 2022 annual report, the Al Purdy A-frame Association notes that the house, which was built on shaky foundations with minimal drainage, is sinking into the mud. The association has launched a new campaign to raise money to pay for repairs to the building’s foundation, which are expected to cost $300,000.
Acquiring permits for the project is expected to take about a year, and the association aims to begin construction in the spring of 2024, provided they have raised enough funds to pay for the project. Residencies will continue for 2023, but those that would have been offered for 2024 will be deferred to 2025, according to the annual report.
Author Yann Martel, a longtime supporter of the A-frame residency program, asked how he could help and has said he will match every donation made to the cause from now until the end of April (National Poetry Month) up to $5,000.
“Purdy wrote many of his masterpieces in that house and the A-frame, then as now, influences the Canadian literary landscape,” Martel said in a release. “It is well known for its influence on the development of writers’ projects and their careers.”