Al Purdy was born in Wooler, Ontario in 1918. He best known, along with Milton Acorn, Alden Nowlan, and Patrick Lane, as a "working class" or "poet of the people" writer. In his teens he road the rails and later spent six years in the RCAF. After several years as a labourer in British Columbia and Ontario, Purdy started earning his living as a writer in the early 1960's. A restless traveller, Purdy is well-known internationally, not only as a poet, but also as a TV and radio play writer, anthologist, editor, travel writer and book reviewer. Purdy won the Governor General's Literary Award in the poetry category in 1965 with The Cariboo Horses and again in 1986 with Collected Poems, 1956-1986. In regard to his status as a "working class" poet, he won the 1987 Peoples' Poet Award (in memory of Milton Acorn) for Collected Poems and received the Order of Canada in 1982.
Alfred Wellington Purdy, was a 20th-century Canadian free verse poet. Purdy's writing career spanned fifty-six years. His works include thirty-nine books of poetry; a novel; two volumes of memoirs and four books of correspondence, in addition to his posthumous works. He has been called the nation's "unofficial poet laureate" and "a national poet in a way that you only find occasionally in the life of a culture."BiographyBorn in Wooler, Ontario, Purdy went to Albert College in Belleville, Ontario, and Trenton Collegiate Institute in Trenton, Ontario. He dropped out of school at 17 and rode the rails west to Vancouver.He served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II. Following the war, he worked in various jobs until the 1960s, when he was finally able to support himself as a writer, editor and poet.In 1957, Purdy and his wife Eurithe moved to Roblin Lake in Ameliasburgh, Ontario (south of Trenton in Prince Edward County), where they built an A-frame cottage, and this became his preferred location for writing. In his later years, he divided his time between North Saanich, British Columbia, and his cottage at Roblin Lake.