A special hands-on dry stone workshop was held on September 3rd and 4th, at Ferris Provincial Park not far from Toronto Ontario near Campbellford where students learned about building a permanent dry stone wall and also got experience restoring one of the existing historic walls at the park. Here is our DSWAC instructor's report.
DSWAC Dry Stone Walling Course/Restoration at Ferris Park
Arriving at 7 am I began stripping down a section of the historic Ferris Park walls. During dismantling, the system of the old wall builders became apparent. Larger stones were placed on the outside and were angled steeply inwards. The base was quite wide which was able to accommodate immense amounts of smaller rubble, called hearting. The combination of the stones angled steeply inwards, along with the immense amount of hearting, is detrimental to the structure of freestanding walls, particularly when a wall has more hearting than the mass of individual building stones. During this process it was decided to narrow the wall width, increase its height, use bonding tie-stones, all the while laying stones level. There is no evidence of vertical cope stones in these parks, so horizontal coping was chosen, despite that it is not as structural as vertical coping.
Students slowly trickled in and the Friends of Ferris park busily streamed about setting up tents and refreshments. After signing students in they joined in stripping down the old walls. When all the students had arrived we had already cleared about 35 feet of old wall. After a quick coffee break, I gave a lesson on the theory of dry stone walls/walling, and then the real meat of the course began with laying foundation stones. It was an exceptionally hot day, thankfully the Friends of Ferris Park brought a tent for relief from the blazing sun and delicious recharging meals for lunch! By the end of the day we had enough completed to lay the through stones the next morn.
Thankfully, Sunday was not nearly as hot, and all students came back eagerly to finish the wall. Through stones were placed, only poking through at the forest side (leaving a laird side for the park visitors) and by 4:00 pm the final coping stones were laid in place! Students had just finished cleaning up, congratulatory photos were taken, certificates of completion by the Friends of Ferris Park were handed out, and the heavens opened up and rained poured down - a wonderful end to a beautiful day under ominous weather forecasts!
On behalf of the students I would like to thank the Friends of Ferris Park and John and Mary Shaw-Rimmington for organising this class, one which taught the instructor as much as it hopefully taught the students!