Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Upcoming Perth Dry Stone Wall Festival

Wallers seek a roof over their head for Dry Stone Walling Festival

Perth Courier
The Canadian Dry Stone Walling Festival, being held in Perth from July 22-24 is seeking help to put up wallers from around the world. 
Billet families are being sought for people coming from around the world to take part in the festival, which will be part of the 200th anniversary Homecoming Weekend. While homes have been found for 20 wallers, another 20 spaces are needed, though Algonquin College stone-working teacher John Scott said that “there might be more than we had planned for. I’m setting up tents in the back yard,” he said, half-jokingly. 
The wallers are coming from Canada, the United States, Scotland, England, and Ireland. If you are interested in billeting wallers, please contact Gerry Welsh or John and Carol Ann McNeil at 613-285-6625 or email john.mcneil99@gmail.com. 
One of the more well-known wallers in attendance will be Norman Haddow, master craftsman at Balmoral Castle, the Queen’s holiday residence in Scotland. 

I see the world through stone. They really contribute to the landscape. John Scott

Following a series of lively discussions earlier at the June 7 committee of the whole meeting, including a proposal for Perth to seek to become a United Nations World Heritage site, noted Scott, that many world heritage sites “have dry stone walls in it,” thus making his presentation to council “very timely.” 
“I see the world through stone,” said Scott. “They really contribute to the landscape.” 
There used to be many dry stone walls throughout Perth, part of the town’s Scottish architectural legacy, but with the invention of cement, “we’ve lost a lot of them,” he said. 
“I’m very excited to have them here,” he said of the wallers from the world over, as they converge on the old swimming hole off of Mill Street to build a dry stone bridge parallel to the Mill Street bridge on the other side of the swimming area. According to a press release presented at council, “the bridge will be constructed of tightly laid rubble limestone and will feature granite abutments and limestone copings. The Indiana limestone arch stones are being cut by students of the Algonquin College heritage masonry program under the supervision of Daly Drevniok, a UK-trained banker-mason currently working in the restoration of the parliament buildings in Ottawa.” 
The bridge will also incorporate rubble limestone from Madoc, Ont., as well as Gananoque granite. 
Another way in which the college will contribute to the festival is by utilizing Early Childhood Education (ECE) students who will be volunteering to monitor the kids rock area, making for an “interesting cross-pollination.” 
Community services director Shannon Bailllon said that the abutment on the east side of the property will be removed and replaced at the swimming hole to facilitate the bridge building. 
“Talk about a legacy project! That will stand the test of time – 800 years,” marvelled Mayor John Fenik of the proposed bridge. “It’ll outlast the rocky ramp debate,” he joked. 
No swimming
At a follow-up committee of the whole meeting on June 14, Baillon alerted council that while the bridge will be built next month, “there is nothing changing the swimming area,” she said. “We are not doing anything to prevent people from entering the water. (But) we are not encouraging swimming. The infrastructure will still be there.” 
“People will be jumping off of the Rogers Road bridge on hot summer days (still),” said Fenik, of the difficulty in policing swimming along the waterway. He added that it would take “a lot of time, money, and energy to open that up to public swimming.” 
“I can appreciate the complexity of doing this,” said Coun. Jim Graff. 
Baillon said that they are looking at options for fencing for the area. 
“We are considering the idea,” said Baillon, possibly bringing in a landscape architect to consider options for the area. 
Deputy Mayor John Gemmell said that even if new fencing is added to the area after the new bridge is built, “kids will still be jumping off of it (into the swimming hole) anyway."

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