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 February 25th, 2012
Meaford church windows restore beauty from the rubble of war

Among the casualties of the Second World War was the architecture of Europe. Countless magnificent, ancient structures crumbled under the blasts of bombs and shells. Churches suffered as well; centuries of craftsmanship and painstaking, devotion to craft were reduced to rubble in seconds.

But in Meaford, fragments of European ecclesiastical history are preserved in the stained glass windows of Christ Church Anglican. Broken glass from 125 English and European cathedrals and churches have gained new life in the beautiful Gothic windows, and while the stone church itself is more than a century old, its windows contain glass once gazed upon by clergy and churchgoers during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Christ Church Anglican stained glass windows

Christ Church Anglican stained glass windows

The first Anglican service in Meaford was conducted in Stephenson’s Inn in 1856, and six years later, the parish built a frame building on the south side of the Bighead River. In 1876, a more substantial stone church welcomed the congregation, and within 14 years, the stone building had expanded to include a bell tower and a larger building which has now become the parish hall.

In 1938, a young rector arrived at the church, and Reverend Harold Appleyard quickly plunged into working with the congregation, the community, and the building, spearheading the difficult task of excavating under the original church to create a basement with a passage under the cloister to link it with the parish hall basement

But when war broke out in Europe, it wasn’t long before Reverend Appleyard heard the call. He joined the Grey and Simcoe Foresters in 1941as Chaplain, and on Sunday, March 22, 1942 preached his farewell sermon before leaving to join the Canadian Chaplain Service.

The destruction in England struck him as appalling nearly as soon as he landed. He quickly began to collect shards of stained glass from the shattered windows of damaged churches, and soon began to envision using them for a memorial window at his parish church. On volunteer fire duty one night in the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, he met an architect responsible for London’s ancient churches, who referred him to the Cox and Barnard Stained Glass Works in Hove, Sussex. The firm offered to design and re-lead the glass into windows to fit Appleyard’s Meaford church – free of charge in gratitude for the Canadian war effort.

Rev. Harold Appleyard in 1946

Rev. Harold Appleyard in 1946

After being shipped to Europe, Appleyard continued his collection, retrieving glass from churches in France, Belgium and Holland, and a year after the war ended, the church unveiled them as memorials to the parishioners and townspeople who had been killed or wounded during the years of fighting.

“During my first few moments in England, the appalling destruction of homes and churches alike, along with the courage of the British people, made it desirable to link their sacrifice with ours,” said Appleyard at the service dedicating the memorial windows, his words heard in a broadcast across Canada and Britain.

The church, which became a Centre for Prayer for World Peace in 1999, is celebrating its 150 year anniversary this year. You may visit Christ Church and see the windows on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon. For information on the windows or booking tours, call Sharleen Schefter at (519) 538-3365.

posted February 16th, 2012
Winter festival makes for a fun family day weekend

Meaford’s making the most of this strange winter – with the First Annual Winter Festival packing Family Day weekend with outdoor and indoor activities for all ages.

A lot of snow fell last weekend, and despite this week’s mild temps, the white stuff still drapes the ground and more’s predicted over the next couple of days. So no matter what it looks like “down country”, you can still find winter in Meaford.

The weekend kicks off tomorrow (Friday) with a Chamber of Commerce Ski Day at Beaver Valley Ski Club. This gives folks who wouldn’t normally have a chance to ski at the private club an opportunity to check out the runs and amenities. Your blogger has enjoyed these in the past, and even benefited from some great tips from Barry Altman, the Chamber Manager, who’s also a level 3 CSIA (and Level 1 telemark) ski instructor.

That night, at Meaford Hall, My Sweet Patootie (“two parts exemplary musicianship and one part vaudeville comedy,” according to Driftwood Magazine) performs clever, off-centre original songs with an old-time country feel and a modern swing. And for Family Day weekend, there’s a real deal for students on tickets

Get your team into the snowball tournament on Saturday! This organized battle of the balls combines the fun of a snowball fight with the thrill of competing for an actual goal. The sport originated in Japan and uses pre-made snowballs to ensure fairness, as well as rules and a capture-the-flag format.

Saturday also features food and special events at the Meaford Community Centre; a downtown scavenger hunt sponsored by the Meaford BIA; old-fashioned surrey rides through the historical streets of Meaford; and an open house at the Meaford Fire Hall (the new one on Stewart Street) where kids can meet Sparky, try on a firefighter’s uniform and sit in the fire engine.

snow fun

Then, as darkness falls, prepare for winter chills of another sort. The Meaford Museum is offering ghost tours of the 1895 pump house that houses the museum. We have it on authority that you will be scared!

Sunday morning, head to the East Grey Anglers and Hunters Club on the Range Road for kids activities, including snowshoeing, archery and a bonfire.

Christ Church Anglican is celebrating its 150th anniversary, and the Sunday open house is a great chance to see the tour the building and see the renowned stained glass windows created from glass retrieved from bombed out European churches during WWII. (More on this soon.)

On Sunday night, head to Woodfords Community Centre for a night of Snowshoeing and Stargazing (and great ribs!). As darkness falls, you’ll hike out to the dark woods, far from artificial lights, and get a great view of the stars.

And to wrap up the long weekend, the Community Centre is offering free public skating (with a DJ), along with food, refreshments and other for the kids.

To get more details, visit here.

posted February 12th, 2012
Big screen movies in Meaford every Thursday

Back in the old days, every small town had it’s own cinema, whose marquee ushered you into the smell of popcorn and the Saturday night glow of the screen. Meaford was no exception. The Capitol Theatre started life as Morrison’s Star Theatre on December 20, 1909, hosting vaudeville troupes, silent movies, and then the talkies, showing the latest movies right up into the 80s.

But the Capitol, like most of those small town theatres, drew the curtains on the big screen more than 25 years ago, and though for awhile it was home to Capitol video, an echo of its past, the days of going out to the pictures faded from town.

Capitol Theatre

The old Capitol Theatre (Google streetview)

Today, if you want to catch the latest blockbuster, both Collingwood and Meaford have Galaxy Cinemas, with six or so large screens apiece. But every second Thursday, the lights go down and the big screen comes alive in Meaford, and for $10 you can see recent releases of interesting and offbeat films – the stuff the big Galaxies don’t show.

And you can enjoy comfortable cushioned chairs or even catch the movie from the balcony in Meaford Hall’s restored theatre.

Here’s a taste of what’s coming up at “Thursday flicks” at Meaford Hall. Many of these films just hit the screens in the last few months. Buy five tickets and save!

Thursday February 16, 4pm | The Guard
The Guard is a comedic fish-out-of-water tale of murder, blackmail, drug trafficking and rural police corruption. Two policemen must join forces to take on an international drug-smuggling gang: one, an unorthodox Irish policeman, and the other a straight-laced FBI agent. Starring Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle.

Thursday March 1, 4pm | Beginners
When it comes to relationships, we’re all beginners. This film imaginatively explores the hilarity, confusion, and surprises of love through the evolving consciousness of Oliver (Ewan McGregor). Oliver meets the irreverent and unpredictable Anna (Mélanie Laurent) only months after his father Hal Fields (Golden Globe winner Christopher Plummer) had passed away.

This new love floods Oliver with memories of his father, who, following the death of his wife of 45 years, came out of the closet at age 75 to live a full, energized, and wonderfully tumultuous gay life. The upheavals of Hal’s new honesty brought father and son closer than they’d ever been able to be. Now Oliver endeavors to love Anna with all the bravery, humour, and hope that his father taught him.

Thursday March 15, 4pm | The Debt
The espionage thriller begins in 1997, as shocking news reaches retired Mossad secret agents Rachel (Helen Mirren) and Stefan (Tom Wilkinson) about their former colleague David (Ciarán Hinds). All three have been venerated for decades by their country because of the mission that they undertook back in 1965, when the trio tracked down Nazi war criminal Vogel (Jesper Christensen) in East Berlin. At great risk, and at considerable personal cost, the team’s mission was accomplished – or was it? The suspense builds in and across two different time periods, with startling action and surprising revelations.

Thursday March 29, 4pm | Le Havre
In this warm-hearted portrait of the French harbour city that gives the film its name, fate throws young African refugee Idrissa (Blondin Miguel) into the path of Marcel Marx (André Wilms), a well-spoken bohemian who works as a shoe shiner. With innate optimism and the unwavering support of his community, Marcel stands up to officials doggedly pursuing the boy for deportation. A political fairy tale that exists somewhere between the reality of contemporary France and the classic cinema of Jean-Pierre Melville and Marcel Carné, Le Havre is a charming, deadpan delight. Winner at Cannes, Chicago and Munich film festivals.

Thursday April 12, 4pm | Monsieur Lazhar
Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Philippe Falardeau and from the producers of last year’s Academy Award®–nominated Incendies, Monsieur Lazhar is one of the most gripping Québécois films of the last decade. The film has already received extraordinary atten¬tion, including Best Canadian Feature Film at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.

Following the tragic and shocking death of a Montreal schoolteacher, Bachir Lazhar– a middle-aged Algerian immigrant seeking political refuge in Quebec – swiftly pursues the opportunity to fill the sudden vacancy and come to the aid of the over¬worked principal and students affected by this tragedy.

The Artist

Thursday April 26, 4pm | The Artist
Hollywood 1927. George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a silent movie superstar. The advent of the talkies will sound the death knell for his career and see him fall into oblivion. For young extra Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo), it seems the sky’s the limit – major movie stardom awaits. The Artist tells the story of their interlinked destinies. Winner of three Golden Globe awards.

Thursday May 10, 4pm | The Descendants
The Descendants is a sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant journey for Matt King (George Clooney), an indifferent husband and father of two girls, who is forced to re-examine his past and embrace his future when his wife suffers a boating accident off of Waikiki. The event leads to a rapprochement with his young daughters while Matt wrestles with a decision to sell the family’s land handed down from the Hawaiian royalty and missionaries. Winner of two Golden Globes.

Thursday May 24, 4pm | My Week with Marilyn
In 1956, 23-year-old Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), just down from Oxford and determined to make his way in the film business, worked as a lowly assistant for six months on the set of “The Prince and the Showgirl.” The film famously united Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) and Marilyn Monroe (Golden Globe winner Michelle Williams), who was at the same time, on a honeymoon with her new husband, playwright Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott).

Throughout filming, each evening Clark wrote the day’s events in a diary. Nearly 40 years after, Clark’s book “The Prince, the Showgirl and Me” was published, but with one week missing. The account of that week was published some years later as “My Week with Marilyn.” When Arthur Miller left England, Colin had the opportunity to introduce Marilyn to some of the pleasures of British life; an idyllic week in which he escorted a celebrity desperate to get away from her retinue of Hollywood hangers-on and the pressures of work.

posted February 4th, 2012
Gardening in a retirement community? Yes and no.

“While missing my garden, I would not miss the work. There are also many farm stands around to be able to buy fresh produce. Just being able to plant a few tomato plants and small vegs would be sufficient. Nothing backbreaking. Also, it would be nice if it was surrounded by shrubs because gardens do not always look very nice. Distance from unit would also be a consideration.”

“My garden should be accessible, ie raised, need little watering, with zone hardy plants only that give interest in all seasons. I am a fan of ornamental grasses for that reason.”

It seems that even for those who love gardening, retirement’s the time to scale back on the work involved. Your prospective neighbours at Meaford Haven have shared their ideas on gardening at this Ontario retirement community, and while roughly half of those who replied to our questions are interested in having them, the general consensus is that Meaford Haven’s garden plots remain small, easy to tend, and tucked out of the way.

“Gardening can be a beautiful thing and also a very messy thing. I would not like to see the gardening plots being part of the community common landscape, meaning I would want to have to deliberately go to that area to see them.”

Private nooks and “secret gardens” mean those who wish to get their hands in the dirt don’t need to be on display to passersby as they putter away, and those who want to simply enjoy the fruits (and flowers) of their efforts can go on a garden stroll.

Meaford Haven gardener

Future residents who’d like to garden suggested hose spigots, rainwater collectors, orienting the beds correctly for sun exposure, and solar-powered lights for evening strolls.

“I currently garden two acres of lawn and gardens,” said one soon-to-be-retired gardener. “By the time I move from my present home I will have gardened enough for two lifetimes.” This gardener will be able to relax, and for those of you who love gardening, you’ll find your own little space.

Read the whole report here.

And you can still let us know what you think. Sign up here.

posted February 3rd, 2012
Beatles tribute takes you back in time at Meaford Hall

At a quick glance, you might think these four moptops are the real Beatles, magically, mysteriously on tour once again. But they’re Ontario’s own “The Caverners”, a remarkably faithful lookalike, soundalike, tribute band. (Your blogger caught them in St. Catharines a few years back.) And they’re playing Meaford Hall tonight! Call 1-877-538-0463.