Dry Stone Symposium Proposal: McMullen Farm, Amherst Island, Ontario


The Idea

For the past five years, Dry Stone Canada has aimed to host an event that is smaller than a festival, bigger than a workshop, and focused on sharing knowledge and perspective about working with dry stone. 

In 2020, before pandemic, the Association had planned to host a small event on Amherst Island in this spirit.

The McMullen Farm was the proposed location. The McMullen Farm is one of the oldest homes on the island, and it has a wall that is in dire need of repair. The McMullens are long time supporters and friends of Dry Stone Canada, and a popular spot for billeting and social time during our festivals on the Island.

Overlapping Interests: Dry Stone Culture

Audra McMullen is also Professor of Communication Studies, Towson University, MD. She is conducting a multi-year study on what makes wallers tick.

More formally, here’s her description: “Dry Stone Walling Culture Study: This is a communication research study focusing on collecting the metaphors and stories of the unique culture of people involved in preserving and creating dry stone walls around the world. Through their actions and use of artifacts stone wallers come together in community to create and preserve these artifacts for generations.”

Combining Dry Stone Canada’s interest in hosting a different kind of stone experience, the McMullen Farm need for restoration as a historic property, and Audra’s research, we are proposing the following symposium idea:

  • Repair an initial section of the McMullen Farm wall
  • Participate in discussions on why you work with stone, as part of Dr. Audra McMullen’s study

Ideas So Far

Dry Stone Canada Membership

This symposium is specifically for our active members of Dry Stone Canada’s network. This includes those who have participated in at least one of our workshops or festivals, and are current members.

Full Participation

We will spend time building, and spend time discussing. It is open to all levels of building skill. The main ask from us is that you are an active participant in the discussions for the culture study. Similar to our festivals and some workshops, we will also have special guests who will offer their views and/or discuss their interest in dry stone.

Basic Details

More detail will be provided in the coming months but one thing that can be stated now is that:

  • The proposed date is Thanksgiving Day weekend (Canadian Thanksgiving) in the year we do host this event.
  • Food, drink, and accommodations will be provided.
  • Capacity will be limited to 30-40 participants.

We are posting this symposium idea to find out if there is interest in participating, or any ideas for sponsorship or funding potential. Contact us with your ideas and interest.


How to Get Involved

Step One: Fill Out the Interest Form Online

Use this form to let us know your interest and how you could participate. The form will also put you on a list to receive updates as things develop. The form will open in a new tab or window. Return to this page once you are done..

Step Two: Consider Who Can Help Us With Money or Resources

Our events are run by volunteers and are labour-intensive. If you have any leads on how we can pull in resources to host the symposium, let us know either through the interest form or the email at the bottom of this page.

Step Three: Renew Your Membership or Join

Our dry stone network is wide, and it has been great to have so many people join our festivals and events. Consider joining the Association as a General Member. Read more here.