October 15, 2015
Nearly 2,000 people took part in the Saugeen Dry Stone Festival, from Aug. 15 to 17, from as far away as England and parts of the U.S.

Many came to take part in the courses offered by some of the best in the dry stone craft, while others came to lend a hand on the dry stone roundhouse.

“We had a tremendous turnout, including First Nation students who took dry stone walling courses at the festival,” said Dean McLellan, one of the main organizers of the event. The Iron Age Roundhouse was constructed to about three feet in height all around, with a diameter of 40 ft. “This is a pretty fair accomplishment, considering its scale,” said McLellan.

Everyone had the opportunity to view the intricate stonework being undertaken at the Saugeen Amphitheatre. This major project is being taken on by McLellan and his crew from Saugeen. The work at the amphitheatre site is expected to continue over the next five years. See September 2015 issue of Landscape Ontario magazine for the full story.

The carving course, hosted by Nicholas Fairplay, was sold out. Masons from all across Ontario took part and learned from one of the best carvers in the world.

The lecture night, with Andrew Loudon and Fairplay, was well attended.  Along with lectures, the pair highlighted some of their past projects. Another highlight was the attendance of Bobby Watts, whose company is restoring the West Block of Parliament Hill.

Saugeen First Nation Chief Vernon Roote opened the festival. He gave a moving talk to the community and guests. Another highlight for visitors was some excellent First Nation songs and drumming by Kaylyn Kewageshig and Lorne Pawis, and also by Conrad Ritchie.

“We were fortunate to have many folks from Landscape Ontario, such as Paul Brydges and Sally Harvey, come out to see the event. Thanks go out to all our sponsors for making the project possible and in particular to Landscape Ontario for its continued support with our program,” said McLellan.

“Upper Canada Stone was again a very generous sponsor donating over 200 tons of stone to the event, as well as Ledgerock Quarries in Owen Sound that donated all the stone for the carving courses,” continued McLellan.