Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Dry Stone Wall Association to honour Farley Mowat


The Northumberland News - On Thanksgiving Weekend, the Dry Stone Wall Association of Canada will erect a piece of public art to honour master Canadian storyteller and celebrated Port Hope resident Farley Mowat.

The structure, a scale model of the boat-roofed houses Mowat wrote about in his best-seller about pre-Viking adventurers who landed in Canada more than 1,000 years ago, is the centrepiece at the third annual Northumberland Dry Stone Wall Festival, Oct. 7-9.

"The project has been a bit of a voyage in itself," says association President John Shaw-Rimmington. "We're excited to see it taking shape at last. This is a long-overdue local tribute to Farley and his many contributions to Canada."

Mr. Shaw-Rimmington's organization, aided by community volunteers and the Dry Stone Wall Association of the United Kingdom, will erect the permanent dry-stone feature on a plot of private land at 20 Catherine St., where the town's first harbourmaster once lived.

The public is invited to drop by the site and watch as dry stone is laid for a foundation and an eight metre (26-foot) boat placed on top of it on Thanksgiving Monday afternoon, at the end of the festival.

Mr. Mowat's book, 'The Farfarers,' told the tale of a seafaring people from the Northern Isles of Great Britain who roamed from Iceland and Greenland to Arctic Canada, northern Quebec, Labrador and Newfoundland hunting walruses for hides and oil.

Forced to endure long winters far away from home in places where there was no wood to build temporary shelters, the wanderers - sometimes called Albans - are believed to have flipped their fragile, double-ender boats on curved dry stone walls, and hunkered down until spring.

This year's dry stone wall festival will take place both at the Catherine St. property owned by Stephen Smith and three blocks away at the Hill and Dale Manor bed-and-breakfast, 47 Pine St. S., where the two previous stone walling festivals have been held.

As for the man whose writings are about to be celebrated in a rather unorthodox way, he's taking it in stride. "I am delighted that at last I have a place to lay my hoary head," Mr. Mowat remarked when asked about the boat-roofed longhouse.

On Oct. 28, Mr. Mowat and his wife Claire are scheduled to join dignitaries at the Catherine St. site for a special presentation and unveiling of a plaque. Mr. Mowat, 85, has written more than 40 books, including 'Never Cry Wolf,' 'The Boat Who Wouldn't Float,' and his latest, 'Bay Of Spirits: A Love Story.'

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