About the Festival
Established in 2012, the Dry Stone Walling Association of Canada (Dry Stone Canada) is an award-winning national heritage trade organization devoted to the art and craft of dry stone walling. We have been recognized for our contribution to this field by the Frontenac Heritage Foundation, Ontario Heritage Trust, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, and the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering. The Association has an annual operating budget of $20,000 as a registered not-for-profit, reinvesting any surplus back into our programs. Our activities include, on average, ten workshops per year and an annual multi-day, community-based Dry Stone Festival. The festival draws wallers and enthusiasts from across Canada and the US, as well as Europe, the UK and Ireland.
Last year our festival was held at Topsy Farms on Amherst Island, Ontario, just south-west of Kingston and a short ferry ride from the mainland. The Association has held numerous workshops on the Island since 2013, including restoration of a number of historic Irish settler walls and new builds during the Irish-Canadian International Dry Stone Walling Festival in 2015. This was a major endeavour that brought over 1000 people to Amherst Island, including personalities such as Jane Urquhart and Rick Mercer.
The Festival Spirit
Festivals bring together our walling community to build a unique feature, which remains as a gift to the host community. The festival feature makes the space accessible to the public, demonstrating the power of this historic craft to draw people together. Our international guests are a core part of the design and energy of dry stone festivals. The exchange of diverse insight and experiences contributes to our success, and the guests acquire new perspectives on their practices and assumptions. Beyond building a permanent legacy structure for public use and enjoyment, festivals include live demonstrations which promote appreciation of the craft and educate the public about dry stone construction. Learning is a fundamental value of Dry Stone Canada; it is built into our activities, from professional development for seasoned wallers, to workshops and formative experiences for children and youth through exploration and play.
The festival is a valuable opportunity to both enhance and showcase local knowledge and respect for built heritage.
Thanks to some of the key Dry Stone Canada volunteers for the festival at Topsy Farms last year in 2018.
General Site: Jacob Murray/Renée Nadeau
Crew/Logistics: Eric Landman/John Bland
Workshops: Bill Jeffers
Volunteer Welcome/Hospitality: Jacqui Jeffers
DSCan Info Booth/Merch Sales: Teri Lee Barbisan
Children’s Area: John Shaw-Rimmington/Doug Bell
General Event: Hilary Martin
Thanks also to our hosts at Topsy Farms, Jacob Murray, Sally Bowen, and Ian Murray who have worked tireless to support the festival through Sponsorship and Promotion, as well as the fabulous support of volunteers on the Island including Andrea Cross (Billeting, Sponsorship, and Engagement), Bonnie Livingston (Billeting Coordinator), Molly Stroyman (The Lodge), and Lorna Willis (The Back Kitchen).
The list of volunteers and supporters is much longer than this! Thanks to all for your incredible efforts.