Manuscript Collection MS COLL 00004 - Al Purdy Papers

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Reference code



Al Purdy Papers


  • 1956-1967 (Creation)

Level of description

Manuscript Collection

Extent and medium

5 boxes (1 metre)

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Al Purdy was born in Wooler, Ontario in 1918. A Canadian free verse poet and writer, Purdy published his first collection of poetry, The Enchanted Echo, in 1944. After riding the rails to Vancouver during the Depression, serving with the RCAF during WWII and working a wide variety of jobs, he settled in Ameliasburgh, Ontario in 1957. There he built an A-Frame house where he lived with his wife Eurithe Purdy, which quickly became a meeting place for Canadian literary figures. He traveled widely and frequently based his poetry on his travels. He was awarded an Officer of the Order of Canada, and won the Governor General's award for poetry in 1965 for the Cariboo Horses, then again in 1986 for Collected Poems. The most successful of Purdy’s volumes are Poems For All the Annettes (1962), Sex & Death (1973), the Stone Bird (1981), and Pilings Blood (1984). His last book was published posthumously, Beyond Remembering: The Collected Poems of Al Purdy in 2000. Al Purdy died in North Saanich, BC on April 21, 2000.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Gift of Al Purdy, 1967

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Includes 28 tapes of Purdy reading his poetry (Cariboo horses; Pressed on sand). Typescripts and drafts of poems. Typescripts and mimeographs of articles and plays for television and radio).

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Conditions governing access

Material may be requested in person at the Fisher Library Reference Desk, or in advance using our online stack retrieval request form:

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Language of material

  • English

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Uploaded finding aid

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Institution identifier

Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto

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