2022-11-02

Workshop participants learn an ancient building method

by KEVIN MCBAIN

  • <p>PHOTO BY PAUL NEWTON</p><p>Measuring out the base of the rock wall.</p>
  • <p>PHOTO BY PAUL NEWTON</p><p>Workshop participants learn how to build a rock wall using no adhesive or any way to keep the rocks connected.</p>
  • <p>PHOTO BY PAUL NEWTON</p><p>A photo from the top of the rock wall, showing how the rocks are positioned to keep the wall solid.</p>

CHERRY HILL – You may look at a pile of rocks and run over them, throw them in a pile somewhere, or cart them off.

This past summer, a group of people, were learning that they can do something practical with those rocks during a dry stone wall workshop, hosted by Rick Chataway and the Friends of Cherry Hill Old Community Cemetery, a non-profit, volunteer society.

Fourteen people from Ontario and Nova Scotia, seven men and seven women, took part in a Dry Stone Canada workshop held Aug. 27 and 28 near the Cherry Hill cemetery.

These students learned how to take rocks and build a solid stone wall without using mortar or any other adhesive material. In just two days, 25 tons of rock were pieced together to form a 9.8-metre wall that stood 1.2-metres high, defining the entrance to the cemetery.

"This is the first of multi-year projects we are hoping to do there," said Chataway, adding that another workshop is scheduled for next year. Hopes are, at that time, to join this newly-built wall with the old, existing wall that is heavily overgrown.

Chataway is a member of the Dry Stone Canada group and mentioned that he has attended several of the workshops hosted by them. He simply asked the group if they would consider putting on a workshop in Cherry Hill, the first such workshop outside of Ontario, and they agreed.

Chataway describes dry stone building as an ancient art, but also, "I think it's growing in the number of people interested in it," he said.

He was happy with the interest in the event, expecting maybe 10 people to attend. As well, at a free public lecture at the United Communities Fire Hall on Aug. 25, another 50 people had attended with 20 people indicating that they wished to learn more about stone walling and the project.

Chataway said he has been interested in stone walling for many years and has a three-year ongoing wall project of his own stretching out more than 100 feet. He said that you can find many walls done with this technique in the province, including the South Shore.

The instructor for the workshop was Scott Young, a professional waller who owns his own dry stone company, S.A.Y. Stone, in Ontario. Dry Stone Canada is a not-for-profit association of professional and amateur wallers that promote the art and craft of dry stone walling and dry stone features.

To learn more about the project or the 2023 workshop, contact Chataway at rbchataway@gmail.com or visit the Dry Stone Canada web page.

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