Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Morrison Point Dry Stone Wall Project - Recent workshop

Morrison Point Road

Morrison Point Road in Prince Edward County, Ontario has a unique charm and character thanks to its special location and history.
The soil of Morrison Point is notoriously shallow. The geology is Paleozoic Middle Ordovician, where the bedrock is exposed with typically less than 1 meter of drift cover. The 1878 Beldon historic atlas states “... geologically, its composition is in a high degree calcareous, the limestone coming to the surface with such prominence as to render the soil in many places incapable of sustaining vegetable growth through the seasons of continual drought.”
Beldon 1878
From: Hastings and Prince Edwards Counties 1878, South Marysburgh Township, Wellington Village, Milford, publ. H. Belden and Co., 1878
Dry stone wall construction has been going on for thousands of years, since the Neolithic period, and in the United Kingdom since c3200 BC. The stability of the underlying Morrison Point Road limestone makes the stone wall foundations very stable, and the shallow soil cover provides ready access to a good supply of field stone. While dry stone construction around the world is sometimes based on quarried stone, the Morrison Point Road walls are all built from locally collected stones from the immediate fields along the road. They are double skinned walls, where there are literally two walls gently leaning towards each other, with the gap packed tightly with stone rubble to make the outer faces very stable.
More to come ...

Our first stone wall restoration workshop was held on April 28-29 2018, where we worked on the walls at 505 Morrison Point Rd., Accommodating Bay Trailer Park.
See details of the April 2018 restoration workshop

Black River Community Garage Sale
May 19, 2018
A garage sale is being organized to raise funds for the Dry Stone Wall Project. The location will be announced soon.
Please save any garage-sale-worthy items for donation to this cause.
The Garage Sale Team will be back in touch in early May with further details. Contact us for more information.

A build from scratch workshop is scheduled for October 27-28th 2018 at a yet to be determined location. This second workshop will involve more training in the various wall type construction techniques and will be available to a broader contingent of Dry Stone Wall Canada members. Please pencil in these dates into your calendars and watch for more information about how to register etc. in the coming weeks.

About the Project

The Morrison Point Dry Stone Wall Project is a community based, non-profit volunteer initiative based in Prince Edward County (PEC), Ontario, Canada.

Project Background: 

The stone walls (not fences) of Morrison Point Road are beautiful, extensive, unique and historic, yet many are in disrepair or have been removed. A number of landowners on the road have expressed an interest in volunteering time and resources to the project. In the fall of 2017, representatives of Dry Stone Canada were contacted and they expressed an interest in helping with this project.  One challenge is that the walls abut private property and likely improve the value of these properties. Therefore, there is potential for individual gain through the efforts of the community. As a result, the intent of this document is to provide guidance so that all decisions and actions are transparent, fair and agreed upon by the community at large.

Project Objectives:

  1. Restore, replace and potentially expand the dry stone walls (DSW) of Morrison Point Road and surrounding areas.
  2. Develop a base of skilled volunteers willing to help with the tasks of maintaining and improving the DSWs
  3. Document the history of the DSW of Morrison Point Road and their current state
  4. Document and share the activities of restoration and expansion.
  5. Celebrate the DSWs and the community spirit of Morrison Point through a variety of events.

Initial Project Plan:

It is recognized that this project will require several years to complete and that it may evolve into a long term maintenance strategy for the DSWs. As such, the plan is to ease into the project as we evaluate both the community interest and the best ways to implement the project objectives.

2018 Project Targets: 

  1. Organize a training workshop for up to 30 volunteers that will participate in a two-day session to restore up to 40 feet of DSW on a property of Morrison Point Road. Such a training course has been shown to be necessary for other communities embarking on similar projects, and will provide the necessary skills for future activities.  Initial planning has begun for the workshop and is summarized in appendix I.   
  2. Establish a fund raising team with a goal of raising $3000 to cover the cost of instructors and workshop participant fees for 2018. Ideas include a community garage sale, applying for grants, membership fees, seeking corporate partners etc.
  3. Hold a celebration event for the road and the workshop participants on the weekend of the workshop.
  4. Conduct a survey of the current state of the DSWs of Morrison Point Road and establish criteria for prioritizing the site selection for each category of future work.  The survey will document the following statuses and opportunities: 
    1. Existing intact walls and their current state, including the extent to which they are threatened by vegetation encroachment; 
    2. Short portions of largely intact walls that are amenable to restoration through a workshop format, that is the stones are largely still present;
    3. Walls in disrepair but to which some rock remains and will require considerable effort to restore;
    4. Locations where evidence exists that DSWs were likely present historically but most rock has been removed;
    5. Properties where land owners have expressed an interest in having a new DSW built from scratch.

Project Team:

Les Stanfield (538 Morrison Point Rd.), Alan Weekes (553) and Jonathan Kearns (506c) have volunteered to help coordinate the efforts of the project for 2018.  Other project team members are being sought and the organizational structure will evolve as we determine the level of interest.

Decision Making Process:

Each category of opportunity will require different actions by the volunteers and land owners. To ensure fairness, a steering committee will be established that will evaluate the following to select priority work projects for any given year.:
  • the benefits to the community, the road and the land owner,
  • the availability of resources (money and rock),
  • and the needs of volunteers
Land owners on the steering committee must recuse themselves from discussions and decisions about potential work carried out by the Project Team on their own property.


It is hoped that in the early years we will train enough qualified people that future work days can both train new volunteers and expand the rate of work that is done.  As our knowledge and skill grows, it is also hoped that several types of projects could occur simultaneously utilizing any number of approaches.  For example, community resources might be expended on an expansion of walls to public lands (imagine building a wall at the Black River Chapel!); or individual land owners may decide to purchase materials to build a new fence and take advantage of neighbours’ and friends’ kindness. Others may simply wish to pay to have a fence built.
Anything is possible, but as a non-profit, community-based initiative, we hope to collectively contribute to the improvement of the overall beauty and historical value of our unique area.


No comments:

Post a Comment