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 March 31st, 2012
Meaford Hall Juried Art Show

Meaford has lots of opportunities to enjoy the fine arts. But if you’re an artist yourself, you’ve really found a great place to retire to. Do you paint? Photograph? Draw? On May 21, Meaford Hall’s Third Annual Juried Show will welcome photography and fine art/2D entries. It’s open to artists in Grey, Bruce and Simcoe counties, and those selected by the jury will be exhibited in the in the beautiful, light-filled galleries at the Hall from May 28 through June 23. Top winners will also receive cash prizes.

Get your entry form here.

Meaford arts organizations you might want to get to know.

Meaford Hall and Culture Foundation
Blue Mountain Foundation for the Arts
Grey-Bruce Arts Collective
Meaford Creative Arts Association: Contact:Bryan Gibbins, president MCAA, 519-538-0386


posted March 30th, 2012
Move to your Ontario retirement community faster with these tips

Phased retirement or partial retirement has a lot of things going for it: staying active and stimulated during retirement; having a little more money to enjoy some of those retirement perks you’ve been putting off; and enjoying a retirement lifestyle before you might have otherwise been able to.

If you’re looking to ease into retirement and begin enjoying the lifestyle a little sooner, cutting costs can help you do it. Here are some tips to get you enjoying your Meaford Haven retirement sooner.

Live where it’s cheaper
Just moving to a retirement community in a small town like Meaford, Ontario will immediately cut your expenses. That large city or suburban home carries a lot of regular, ongoing costs in maintenance, taxes and insurance.

If you still have a mortgage, selling your home and finding an Ontario retirement community in a small town can see you mortgage free, which frees up a lot of monthly cash flow right away.

And you’ll be surprised at how many things are a lot less expensive in small-town Ontario.

Retire faster

Reduce your belongings
Moving to a smaller place – or right-sizing, as we like to think of it – means you need less stuff. Selling off some of your belongings can provide a tidy sum for additional investment or other use. And donating items, as long as you get a tax receipt, can help you to a tax break.

If you’re retired, or working in the “nobody-knows-you’re-retired” guise, you don’t need the same clothing budget you had when you were heading to the office, the plant, or the store every day.

And a second car isn’t nearly as necessary once you’re in retirement or semi-retirement. Selling the second car can immediately net you thousands, and the additional savings on insurance and maintenance will continue to add to your bottom line.

Do you need a land line? In this age of mobile communications, you might want to take a tip from those 20-somethings who rely on cell phones alone. A good family plan can have you both in touch at all times for not much more than you’d pay for a land line alone.

Re-evaluate your insurance needs
Your home insurance will likely drop when you move to a retirement community. If you’ve shed that second car, you’ve slashed that insurance burden. And as you ease into retirement, you should consider your life insurance policies. At this point, changing at least part of a large whole life policy into term insurance provides protection while cutting costs.


posted March 23rd, 2012
Financial tips for phased retirement

Ontario retirement communities bring together a real mix of people and lifestyles. Some are intent on devoting their retirement to recreation and leisure. Others want to volunteer and do good works. A group want (or need) to continue to work during retirement – to varying degrees. And some find the perfect retirement mix of all of the above.

If you’re one of the ones considering phased retirement, here are some things you should consider.

“If you do work in retirement you will need to assess when and how much you should take out or convert into a Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF),” Dave Ablett, Director of Tax and Retirement Planning with Investors Group, told the Globe and Mail.

If you’re making good money – good enough to pay the bills and let you enjoy the retirement lifestyle you want – you have until 71 before you must convert your RRSP into a RRIF, so you might want to hold off as long as you can. You can even continue to contribute to your RRSP and may be able to contribute to a spousal RRSP.

Retirement Toast

Raise a toast to your Georgian Bay retirement

If your income doesn’t quite cut it, you can began to convert your RRSP into a RRIF, but pay attention to the tax bracket you end up in, and consider the potential to split your income by allocating a portion of the income to your spouse.

If you have a pension plan (other than CPP), new rules make it easier to collect part of your pension while working. And starting this year, if you’re 60 or older, you may apply to receive your CPP retirement benefit without having to stop working or earning less than the max CPP benefit for at least two months in a row – as you used to. And if you are working, you’re now able to continue to contribute to CPP to increase your benefits. In fact, you’ll be required to up till 65, and after that, you can continue on a voluntary basis.

Talk to your financial planner to plan a sound phased retirement strategy, and get set to enjoy your Georgian Bay retirement lifestyle.


posted March 16th, 2012
How to ease in to your Meaford, Ontario retirement community

It used to be you worked, you retired, and then maybe you dabbled in hobbies or travelled or sat on your porch swing. But more and more people are discovering a new approach to retirement living. Not-quite retiring, phased retirement, or partial retirement can be attractive alternatives.

Maybe you enjoy your work, and while you want to get out of the daily commute and the prescribed hours, you don’t want to give it all up yet.

Perhaps you just want to stay active and meet people and learn new things; you don’t need to continue in your former career, but you want to find some kind of meaningful, part-time work.

Or maybe you’ll simply appreciate the extra retirement cash, and a couple of days work a week at the hardware store or the golf course or the ski hill or the the real estate office will bring in additional income to finance those splurges.

Here are three phased retirement possibilities that will lend themselves nicely to your Georgian Bay retirement.

The “Nobody Knows” Retirement

If your present career lends itself to it, you may be able to keep on doing work for clients from your Meaford Haven retirement property. On the Internet, no one knows you’re a retiree!

The “Now You’re Retired, Now You’re Not” Retirement

Maybe you want to work intensely for a chunk of the year then totally indulge yourself during the remaining months. Seasonal jobs fit the bill, or maybe you can make arrangements to telecommute for your current company or another firm in the same industry on a fixed schedule.

The “Fresh Experiences” Retirement

With the extra time retirement brings, you can consider trying out work you never had time to properly learn before. Maybe you’d make a good Internet entrepreneur. Or after years in an office job, you’d like to learn a new skill that involves engaging the public.

Phased retirement can be a great way of increasing your retirement financial resources, but you need to understand how it affects your retirement savings, too. More on that next time.


posted March 10th, 2012
Meaford area maple syrup festivals let you get your sweet on

This weird winter is wrapping up with a string of sunny, warm days in the forecast over the next week, and our local maple syrup makers are hoping for some colder nights to help this year’s sweet crop along. But even if this year’s syrup is as rare as liquid gold, make plans to take in one of the maple syrup festivals not too far from Meaford Haven.

Saturday, March 24 to Sunday, March 25
Saugeen Conservation Old-Tyme Maple Syrup Festival
Satisfy your sweet tooth and support conservation at this popular festival which features all the tasty treats, great entertainment, expert chainsaw carver Bobbi Switzer, and a step back in time at the Pioneer Encampment featuring a working blacksmith, native re-enactors, frontier popcorn and more. This year, catch the Guinness Book of World Records attempt for the largest sap bucket in the world.

Sunday, March 25
Sweetwater Festival
Along with the usual maple syrup festival fun, Wye Marsh offers a cooking demonstration featuring maple syrup specialties.

Family fun at the Holstein Maplefest

Family fun at the Holstein Maplefest

Saturday, April 14 to Sunday, April 15
18th Annual Holstein Maplefest
Visit a 40-acre working sugar bush for an “edutaining” day of demonstrations and displays, including a taffy pull and ice cream making; a free craft sale; Splash’n Boots Interactive kids show; and an all-day pancake and sausage breakfast.

Saturday, April 21
Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival
Tour the sugar bush; admire (and buy) arts, crafts and quilts; enjoy musical entertainment throughout the day; cheer on the log sawing contest and the pancake eating contest; and much more.


posted March 3rd, 2012
Meet the authors during Meaford Library’s Koffee House Reads

Meaford has a small, but very very active library. There’s always something going on, whether it’s business seminars, such as last week’s presentation on “Facebook and your business”, by Meaford Independent editor, Stephen Vance; children’s activities year-round; or the annual short story contest for local residents.

Coming up over the next couple of months, you have an opportunity to meet and chat with authors who live in the area, hear their thoughts on writing, and enjoy the food and ambience at one of Meaford’s eclectic cafés.

Sea-change

Koffee House Reads kicks off at Eggcitement Bistro on Tuesday, March 27, with novelists Frank and Gillian McEnaney, authors of Sea-Change and Luminosity. Sea-Change is an epic novel following the paths of two Newfoundland brothers and their relationship with the sea during the tumultuous 20th century. Luminosity explores the world of 1960s fashion and obsessive desires, as two friends discover a strange secret revealed in a model’s photo.

57 hours

Then, on Tuesday, April 3, The Kitchen hosts Paul Wilson and Patricia Grant. Paul worked with Vesselin Nedkov, who survived the Moscow theatre hostage crisis in 2002, to write 57 Hours – A Survivior’s Account of the Moscow Hostage Drama – a gripping description of the events which culminated in the deaths of the hostage takers and at least 129 of the hostages.

City Wolves

On April 19, head to the Earth Harvest Café to meet Dorris Heffron, author of the historical novel City Wolves, the tale of Canada’s first woman veterinarian, the notorious “dog doctor of Halifax”.

There is Life After Death

And Tom Harpur, Canada’s best known spiritual author, journalist, and TV host will be in the Terrace Room at Meaford Hall on Wednesday, April 25, where you can enjoy wine and hors d’oeuvres during the event.

Tickets are $15, and you can pick them at the library main desk.

Visit the website.


posted March 1st, 2012
March is here… and so is cross-country skiing fun. Enjoy it while it lasts

Believe it or not, Meaford still has lots of the white stuff for winter fun. It’s not too late to check out the cross skiing at one of the many great locations near Meaford Haven.

Here are a few photos we took this past week at Massie Hills.

Cross country skiing X-country skiing 2

X-country skiing 3 X-country skiing 4

Cross country skiing is one of those sports you can do at any time of your life, and it’s becoming more and more popular among retirees. A high-calorie-burning, full-body workout, it gives you great cardiovascular benefits and an endorphin rush in a low-impact sport. You can choose your own pace, and you can ski outside your back door or check out one of the beautifully scenic nearby trail systems. (The most distant of these trails is only 40 minutes away.)

Massie Hills
A short drive from Meaford, this 10 km trail system (with numerous opportunities to reverse loops and add distance) offers the feel of a backwoods ski in a nicely groomed trail. Some hills and moderately difficult sections, but nothing extreme. Donate at the entrance or join the club.
http://massiehills.com/

Coffin Ridge Winery
Beginning this winter, the winery has groomed trails along the vineyards. After an invigorating ski, head inside to warm by the fire and indulge yourself with a mug of hot mulled wine, local cheeses, paté and freshly baked bread.
www.coffinridge.ca/

Loree Forest
Head south of Thornbury on Country Road 2, and head east on Sideroad 21 to find a spot to park, then strap on your skis. No-fee skiing on a mostly flat course, with views from the top of Georgian Peaks.

Kolapore Uplands
This 60 km classic trail system can keep you active forever. As Grey County’s tourism site relates, “Grooming is completed by the first skier of the day so skiers should be prepared to ‘break trail’ following a snowfall.” Areas for beginners, intermediate and advanced skiers.
www.ontariotrails.on.ca/trails-a-z/kolapore-uplands-trail/

Nordic Centre at Scenic Caves
Within a half hour scenic drive, you can enjoy 22 kilometres of groomed beginner and intermediate forested trails with occasional spectacular views. Foodservice, rentals, change-rooms and more onsite.
www.sceniccaves.com/winter/skiing-snowshoeing.htm

Inglis Falls and Harrison Park
Owen Sound’s Inglis Falls is a popular scenic destination in summer, but it’s just as magical in winter, with a 7.5 km ski trail accessible from the falls or from Harrison Park below. A loop from Harrison Park takes you up the escarpment, tours near the falls, and then heads back down to the park, where the Harrison Park Inn awaits you with warmth, food and drink.

Sawmill Ski Trail
North of Owen Sound and south of Hepworth, you’ll find 10 km of groomed classic and skate trails branching off from the cozy log clubhouse. You can even night ski a section under the lights. Admission by donation or join the club.
www.bruceskiclub.ca

Highlands Nordic
One of Ontario’s premiere cross country ski resorts, Highlands Nordic hosts major provincial and national events – and gives you a lot to choose from in classic and skate skiing. Challenging hills, excellent grooming, and a large clubhouse and ski shop with rentals and sales.
www.highlandsnordic.ca/

Mix it up with a snowshoe jaunt
Many of these cross country ski locations also provide great terrain for snowshoeing – either on marked trails or by making your own tracks. Some areas may require fees, some definitely require a map, and skiers really appreciate it if snowshoers stay off the ski tracks.

But there’s no need to even leave town to snowshoe in Meaford. Step outside your door and explore the countryside around you, or head down to the Trout Hollow Trail to enjoy up to 14 km of varied terrain and beautiful winter scenery. (It’s wise to avoid using the trail along the Bighead River during a thaw.)