Dances With Rocks

Nick Wolochatiuk ~ Dances With Words
Dances With Rocks


Because my foreign travels have been curtailed by COVID precautions and lack of insurance coverage, I see no return visits to Malta, Cuba or Santorini on the horizon. However, during the past week, ferries took Juliet and me on cruises to three delightful islands: Howe, Wolfe, and Amherst.

Amherst is about 10 km west of Kingston, is about 20 km long and can be accessed by a public ferry that plies the 3 km from Millhaven to the island.

We hadn’t been on Amherst for several years. During that interval, in September 2015, the Irish-Canadian International Dry Stone Festival took place on the island. Dry Stone Canada is an organization that promotes, teaches, builds and restores stone walls. What we discovered during our June 2022 visit to Amherst is shown from a selection of my dozens of photos of the products of the 2015 gathering.


DRY STONE ASSEMBLY – This is an impressive sampling of what Amherst Island’s 2015 Dry Stone Festival created. (Photo by Nick Wolochatiuk)

The permanent display is across the road from the island’s elementary school and just a bit more than a stone’s throw from Stella, the island’s ferry terminal and its only store. By the way, I don’t throw stones; one of my passions is building stone walls.

People who build these impressive walls define a rock as “an unemployed stone”. Why build stone walls? In countries like Ireland, Scotland and England, they were a by-product of clearing the land of glacial debris (rocks) for planting crops and grazing livestock. What to do with the rocks? Use them to create walls to keep your animals, and those of others, in – or out.


CELTIC CROSS – On March 14 and September 27, the setting sun shines through its portal and lights up a carved stone Claddagh a couple of canoe lengths away. (Photo by Nick Wolochatiuk)


When a surplus of time and rocks presented itself, the craft, science and art of building dry stone walls evolved. No mortar cements the walls’ rocks. Gravity and the skill do the job.

If you don’t have time to visit Amherst Island, rumour has it there’s a dry stone wall currently under construction at 55 St. Lawrence Drive, Ingleside.

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