There's a surprising lot of interesting stuff going on around here, and this space is devoted to discovering and sharing it. We'll post regular updates on merchants, activities and events. Look in often and soon you'll see why Meaford calls itself "The other Big Apple".

posted October 29th, 2011
Ted’s Range Road Diner a Meaford icon

For more than 20 years, Wednesday night in Meaford has been “jam night” – more specifically “Jam night at Ted’s”. Drive up the old Range Road, now known as Valour Road, toward Irish Mountain, and as you crest the first of the heights, you’ll see an interesting, somewhat surreal, sight on your left. An old steel Quonset hut, spruced up with white siding and a green awning, sits in the midst of an oft-overflowing parking lot. In a small stand of trees in the middle of the lot, a chainsaw sculpture by Fran Bouwman depicts a young girl staring at the fairies inhabiting an old dead spruce. And if it’s Wednesday night, the sound of rockin’ live music spills out from the packed space inside, as the house band plays and the open mike is taken up by anyone else who wants to play.

Inside Ted’s Range Road Diner, curved, shellacked Aspenite covers the walls, the rustic environment contrasting with the incredibly wide-ranging menu arrayed on colourful chalkboards – offering everything from traditional fare to such delicacies as catfish, bison strip loin, elk chops, wild game stir-fry (elk, emu, venison, bison, musk ox, ostrich), and even alligator.

This one-of-a-kind Meaford attraction and tradition has been featured in national media – and both Ted and his diner have even made it to the “big” screen in an independent horror flick called

Ted's Range Road Diner

posted October 29th, 2011
Dragons’ Den Meaford chooses business winners

The dragons have convened and judged. And Meaford Fresh Gear – a sanitizing system for sports gear, firefighting uniforms and other equipment – received their blessing, along with almost $7,000 in cash plus other in-kind contributions. Meaford’s Dragons’ Den took to the stage at Meaford Hall on Wednesday, and heard pitches from a variety of entrepreneurs, including the founders of Meaford Fresh Gear – husband and wife Grant and Jamie Murray.

Their concept uses a system, which they’ve purchased to sanitize equipment that can be susceptible to bacteria growth and the attendant nasty smells. They bring the equipment to their clients and do the cleaning on-site.

Rachael Chapman’s “Believe Meditation Products” came second, earning $7,300 in cash and prizes. And the first Audience Choice award went to second-time presenter Darryl Hindle and his Quench Buggy water distribution system, giving his business a $1,245 boost.

Dragons' Den Meaford winners

Photo courtesy The Meaford Independent

Read more at the The Meaford Independent.

posted October 25th, 2011
Eggcitement Bistro celebrates a successful first year in Meaford

Doris Lajoie recently celebrated the first birthday of Eggcitement. And she has some big plans for the future of the popular bistro on Nelson Street in Meaford.

A decade ago, Lajoie was working as a secretary, when she decided it was time for a change. “I just changed careers at age 40,” she says with a laugh. “I needed a change and I love cooking. My dad was an executive pastry chef, and I guess it’s in the family.” (Her two daughters currently work at the restaurant.)

Doris Lajoie

Doris Lajoie

For 10 years, Lajoie operated Beyond the Clouds – that is, the Beyond the Clouds Café at the Collingwood Airport – where she quickly became famous for her streusel-topped pies. But she’d long had her eye on opening a restaurant in Meaford, where she lived.

When Mark and Debbie Young retired two years ago and closed the Sirloin Cellar butcher shop and deli, Lajoie thought the location was perfect – and she began to make serious plans for Eggcitement. She overhauled the main floor, adding a full kitchen, putting in booths, and completely renovating and redecorating. By October, she was nearly ready, but she still didn’t have a full-time cook. “It was getting late in the year,” she says. “So I just said, ‘Tomorrow, we’ll open the door and see what happens.’ And it took off from there. It’s been a very busy year.”

Eggcitement Bistro in Meaford

That’s not surprising, considering the full and varied menu made mostly from scratch and from fresh, local ingredients. Eggcitement is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. 365 days a year, but the bistro offers a lot more than bacon and eggs.

“I just thought that Meaford needed something that’s very different,” says Lajoie. “I want to provide that. We do Jamaican food, Indian food, German food, Italian food – we make our own fresh pasta.”

While the menu regularly features Lajoie’s specialties – frittatas, omelettes, Eggs Benedict, a sandwich menu and an egg menu – you can always count on more than one “eggciting” daily special. “Every day it’s something different,” she says. Specials include such mouth-watering creations as pulled turkey, grilled cheese stuffed with pulled pork, crème brûlée French toast, and crêpes. Lajoie makes nearly everything from scratch, including apple jelly made from the organic apples growing in her front yard, gravies, beef jerky and salad dressings. The maple syrup comes from a local supplier and she’s arranging to get some locally harvested honey straight from the comb. In the summer, you can cool down with smoothies and fresh-pressed juices on the sidewalk patio.

Lajoie’s currently working on getting a liquor licence for beer and wine, and she hopes to eventually expand to the second floor of the building, opening the new area for the dinner trade. She is also currently poised to offer meal deliveries within five minutes or so of downtown Meaford.

Visit Eggcitement at 16 Nelson Street West or call 519-538-1968.

posted October 24th, 2011
Adventure travel writer makes “book tour” to Meaford

It’s not every day a best-selling travel writer shows up on your front porch, but that’s what happened early this afternoon in Meaford. Heading out to take out the recycling and compost, we met – or rather, startled by opening the door before he could knock – a Newfoundlander (transplanted originally from Yorkshire, England) by the name of Bernie Howgate. He explained that he was engaged in a Newfoundland tradition (though one suspects that it’s a Bernie Howgate tradition) – that is, going door to door selling your literary wares. In Owen Sound for a wedding, Bernie was making the rounds of Meaford homes before heading to Collingwood to promote his latest travel memoir.

Zen and the Art of Paddling

“Zen and the Art of Paddling”, is the sixth in a oeuvre that includes “Tales of a Travelling Man”, “Newfie or Bust”, “Around the Rock in a Bad Mood”, “Journey Through Labrador” and “Lazy Days in Summer”. Since the early 80s, Bernie’s been financing his solo long-distance cycling and paddling odysseys by writing book-length accounts of his journey and selling them primarily door to door.

During the last 30 years, Bernie spent eight years solo-cycling around much of the world, crossed Canada on a rickshaw, journeyed through Labrador in winter and set out from Toronto to Labrador in a kayak. And at 62, it doesn’t seem like he’s ready for retirement, though he claims he’ll be hanging up the paddles soon. (And his cross-Canada book tours will doubtless continue.)

Bernie Howgate

Bernie Howgate during his early adventures

This latest book covers the 3,000 kilometre sea kayaking journey Bernie took north through B.C.’s Inside Passage to Alaska in 2008 – and with my inscribed copy in hand, I’m ready to settle down for an interesting read.

posted October 18th, 2011
Songs of Georgian Bay

The waters of Georgian Bay have inspired songwriters, surely, beyond recorded history. Its deep waters can be blue and inviting and a summer playground… or turn on you without warning. As Stan Rogers wrote in “White Squall”,

Now it’s a thing that us old-timers know, in a sultry summer calm
There comes a blow from nowhere, and it goes off like a bomb!
And a 15 thousand tonner can be thrown upon her beam
While the gale takes all before it with a scream.

That song, about a laker heading north on either Georgian Bay or Lake Huron proper after losing one of its crew to the “fury of the blow”, reminds us that a “red-eyed Wiarton girl” is left behind – and the liner notes explain that more than “30 percent of the Captains and First Mates employed in shipping on the Lakes came from this quiet fishing town in the Bruce Peninsula.”

Across the Bay to the east, Gordon Lightfoot’s “Christian Island (Georgian Bay)” paints a sunnier picture of our waters.

I’m sailing down the summer wind
I got whiskers on my chin
And I like the mood I’m in
As I while away the time of day
In the lee of Christian Island
Tall and strong she dips and reels
I call her Silver Heels
And she tells me how she feels
She’s a good old boat and she’ll stay afloat
Through the toughest gales and keep smilin’
But for one more day she would like to stay
In the lee of Christian Island

When Kevin Moyse, an Owen Sound songwriter, read tales of Georgian Bay shipwrecks written by Scott Cameron (Meaford resident and former principal of our high school) – he was inspired to create an entire album and DVD package called “Songs of Georgian Bay”. Visit here to learn more.

Other songs of Georgian Bay

Georgian Bay by Laura Ranieri
The Georgian Bay Suite by D. Bain
“Georgian Bay Sunsets” by Evan Paul (among other songs inspired by the Bay). Hear the CBC podcast.
Paul Motian’s “Georgian Bay”, featuring Keith Jarrett. Listen to a sample here.

Georgian Bay '94 Marine Heritage Festival

And now for some shameless self-promotion. Back in 1994, the communities ringing the Bay from Owen Sound to Midland held the Georgian Bay ’94 Marine Heritage Festival, which featured numerous events and visits by tall ships to many of the ports, including Meaford. Organizers held a song contest, calling for songs that celebrated marine heritage, and your faithful blogger got to work on a lyric – “The Dance of Georgian Bay” – asking Sean Keating and Maureen Keating to join in to write the music and perform the song.

“The Dance of Georgian Bay” won the contest. If you’d like to listen, here’s the original contest demo. (Right-click to download the song or left-click to play.)

© 1994 Maureen Keating, Sean Keating and Vic Michener

Cedar and birchbark sewn taut as a drum skin
Whispering paddles wove spells in our lees
Lost in the wake of the timber and iron
Rolling like thunder from over the sea.

We’re born to the slap of the waves on the pilings
And someday we’ll rest as our bones are picked clean
Stranded on sand like our poor sister Nancy
Or rotting in drydock for want of a dream

But for one sparkling moment
We’ve lived on this water
We’ve weathered her anger and dreamed through her calms
Passing on secrets
From daughter to daughter
As long as she’s here then our dreams will live on.

Sing us a song to the wind in the rigging
Sway like a bride to the beat of the waves
Sweep us away on the breath of a storm cloud
Dance the dance of Georgian Bay

The turtlebacks challenged the old wooden schooners
And now their own nets lie there dry and unused
Even trusty old freighters rust sooner or later
Each weary side wheeler limps through her last cruise

So drive deep your paddle and fire your engines
Cast for your luck in the old fishing hole
Ride on the wind till the land dips astern
Oh, your voyage may end, but they can’t sink your soul

And for one sparkling moment
We’ll live on this water
We’ll weather her anger and dream through her calms
Passing on secrets
From daughter to daughter
As long as she’s here, then our dreams will live on.

Sing us a song to the wind in the rigging
Sway like a bride to the beat of the waves
Sweep us away on the breath of a storm cloud
Dance the dance of Georgian Bay

posted October 15th, 2011
Meaford Garden Club welcomes Frank Kershaw

Good news for gardeners. Frank Kershaw’s coming to town on Monday night to share his thoughts on Good Garden Design. Presented by the Meaford Garden Club and Thornbury’s 599 Garden Club, Kershaw’s presentation will include fundamental design concepts, new ideas and trends, breathtaking photos of gardens far and near, and a healthy dose of humour.

Kershaw’s own garden is a wonder, and was featured in both the first issue of Canadian Gardening in 1990 and in the 20th anniversary issue. He teaches the fundamentals of garden design at George Brown College and the Toronto Botanical Gardens, and he writes for a variety of gardening publications.

The Meaford Garden Club meets once a month at Meaford Hall in the North Gallery and welcomes all ages and levels of gardening expertise – as long as you have an interest in gardening!

Kershaw’s presentation takes place at Meaford Hall, Monday at 7 p.m., and it’s a great deal at only $10 plus HST. Box office.

posted October 14th, 2011
Mmmm… Menus for next two Meaford Diners’ Club seatings

The Meaford Diners’ Club has released the next two mouth-watering menus for Friday, October 21 and Friday, October 28 – featuring local fare prepared to perfection by Jesse Reed and Rachel Frisby.

Click on the images below to get the pdf files.

Meaford Diners Club October 21

Meaford Diners Club October 28

posted October 14th, 2011
Waterfalls of Grey County offer beautiful scenery

When the rivers and streams rushing to Georgian Bay encounter the steep, ragged edges of the Niagara Escarpment in the Grey County area, the water tumbles down in an impressive display. You can take a day trip, or plan a few, to visit the waterfalls in the area around Meaford. Just check out the guide at the Grey County tourism website, or begin with an armchair tour right here:

posted October 12th, 2011
Business people prepare to face Dragons’ Den Meaford

Two weeks from now the dragons come to Meaford, and a group of brave entrepreneurs will face them in the hopes of getting the nod (and financial investment) for their startup or expansion.

This year, they’ll step before a den consisting of nationally known business leaders, local businesspeople and business boosters, including the President & CEO of Sobey’s grocery chain, the Chairman of the Toronto Argonauts, VP of a major real estate development company, a Meaford financial advisor, and a representative from the Chamber of Commerce.

Dragons' Den Meaford

Two years ago, the Meaford and District Chamber of Commerce introduced Dragon’s Den Meaford, modelled on CBC’s popular reality business television program, and it quickly became a hit. So far, the event has awarded $57,000 in cash and in-kind contributions to budding businesses, and the two overall winners have gone on to grow their businesses successfully. Meredith Cowan’s Meredith’s Ginger Syrup has made a big splash and spawned additional products, and Nicholas Schaut’s organic hop farm catering to Ontario breweries recently brought in his first harvest to be sold to local microbreweries. (And last year, the event kicked off with a special video introduction from The National’s Peter Mansbridge.)

The panel of five dragons reviews submissions from aspiring entrepreneurs seeking startup funds, and narrows the choices to a group of finalists. Then the finalists take to the stage at Meaford Hall to present their concepts to the dragons, each of whom will award a minimum of $1,250 to one or more contestants. (They often contribute more.)

This years’ dragons include:

Liz Harris, Chamber of Commerce Board Member, former business owner and operator, and active community volunteer and booster.

Bill McEwan, President and CEO of Sobey’s Incorporated and founder of the McEwan Foundation, who also happens to own a home here in Meaford.

Jeff Peterson, Vice President of Land Acquisition and Development for A2A Capital Management, an international real estate development company with a current project in Meaford.

Chris Rudge, Chairman of the Toronto Argonauts Football Club and Chairman of the 100th anniversary of the Grey Cup Festival, held in Toronto next month.

Donna Shortt, Wealth Manager at BMO Meaford and President of the Meaford Rotary Club.

This year, each audience member will receive a ballot and an opportunity to vote for a competitor. Five dollars from every ticket sold will go towards the People’s Choice Award to the contestant with the most votes from the audience.

Also new this year, the contest is open to businesses looking to expand or change, instead of exclusively to startups.

Net funds from event sales will fund the Meaford Dragon’s Den Bursary, which will be given to a graduating Georgian Bay Secondary School student pursuing a career in tourism, marketing or business. The bursary this year is valued at $800 and student services will determine the winner based on overall performance. The award will be presented at commencement in November.

To get your tickets for the Wednesday, Octbober 26 event, call 519.538-0463, drop by the Meaford Hall box office, or visit the Meaford Hall website.

posted October 9th, 2011
Meaford Diner’s Club welcomes local foodies

Meaford has a new venue for discerning diners. On Wednesday, the Meaford Diner’s Club gathered in Meaford Hall’s North Gallery for the first of what will be many more delightful repasts. In the high-ceilinged room hung with paintings from the Changing Colours exhibition, the diners were treated to roasted beet and apple salad with goat cheese, Grey County beef tenderloin with gnocchi and local mushrooms, and molten chocolate cake with organic pumpkin ice cream from Mapleton Organic Dairy.

The Club is the brainchild of Jesse Reed and Rachel Frisby, who recently launched Reeds Catering. Jesse was the acclaimed chef at Reeds, which was quickly becoming a destination for diners in the Georgian Bay area before a major fire gutted the interior of the 1850s building that housed it two years ago. His original and creative takes on traditional hearty meals made with fresh local ingredients won rave reviews from residents, tourists and weekenders during the year and a half that Reeds was open. Rachel grew up with great food – her mom’s a pastry chef and her dad has an organic apple orchard in Duncan; she ran the supper club for Christine Collins Catering, and has attended Stratford Chef School.

“We love this area,” says Jesse. “We think it’s just such a great area for food and agriculture. And we knew that there’s a great group of foodies in the community. There are so many great local products, and we think there’s so much potential and possibility here. We really want to use the products that we have available to us here, and provide the people of Meaford with a great food experience at a reasonable price.”

Jesse and Rachel

Jesse and Rachel

The Diner’s Club has booked the Hall for next three Fridays, starting on the 14th, and the next menu is billed “Fish Friday”, featuring PEI mussels with aromatic vegetables, light curry cream, saffron aioli, and Flesherton rye toasts; Kolapore Springs rainbow trout – a roulade of trout with arugula pesto, pepper squash risotto, and green bean almondine; and Tansy Farms apple galette with spiced whipped cream and a cider reduction. The prix fixe meal is a real bargain at $35. And you can purchase local Ontario wine and beer from the Meaford Hall bar.

To reserve, call 226-668-4673 or email by Wednesday, October 12.

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