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 June 29th, 2012
Off to Meaford’s Farmer’s Market and Canada Day fun

Well, the Meaford Farmer’s Market has kicked off for this Friday as we write, so once we’ve filed this report, we might just mosey on down. It’s a special market day, as the event is part of the kick off to Canada Day weekend celebrations. There’ll be live music and, taking a page from the past, surrey rides through town. And of course, there’s all the goodies you can find every week, from organic meats and vegetables and herbs to baked treats and more – with many vendors offering tasty samples to entice you to buy. This year, chef Micheline Zammit, who works at Cobble Beach Golf Club, prepares free sample dishes featuring products she’s found at the market – try her creations, and pick up the ingredients at the vendors’ booths.

Meaford Farmers' Market

Beyond food, you’ll also find crafts and more. And don’t forget to get your duck race tickets (more below).

With your appetite taken care of, plan for a busy weekend. Here’s the schedule of events for Saturday and Sunday (you can rest up Monday.)


8am-11am Meaford Hall
John McKay home product trade show

9am-11am Market square
MFRC pancake breakfast

9am-9:30am Market square near hall
Soap Box Derby registration

10am – Collingwood St to Bayfield St
Soap Box Derby race

10am – Downtown Meaford
BIA sidewalk sale
GBSS Idols & MCS buskers on the street

10am-4pm Meaford Foodland
Meaford Duck Race kick off BBQ

2pm- Sykes St bridge to Bridge St
Meaford Duck Race

11am&3pm Meaford Museum
Historical walking tour of downtown

noon-4pm – Nelson St at Meaford Hall
BIA surrey rides

noon-4pm – Meaford Hall
BIA scavenger hunt – pick up list

noon-4pm – Meaford Harbour
Sail Georgian Bay introduction to sailing


9am-10am Eggcitement Bistro
Motorcycle Rally meet for breakfast
10am- Motorcycle Rally – ride starts

9am-4pm Bayfield Street
Golden Town Cruisers classic car show

10am-4pm Bayfield Street
Net Shed Book Depot open
Meaford Museum open

11:45am Meaford Community Centre
Form up for parade

Noon – Collingwood St to Harbour
Canada Day parade

Noon to dusk Harbour pavilion
Rotary Club food & beverages

12:45pm Harbour Entrance
• Singing of “O Canada”
• Mayor’s & Dignitaries’ speeches
• Flag Raising Ceremony – Anthem by Mike Weir & Sylvie
• Goldenaires Canadian Folk Song Medley by Bert Hood

1pm Rotary Pavilion at harbour
Birthday cake for 1000 – prepared & served by Canada Catering

Noon to 4pm Meaford Harbour
Family Fun Festival
• Canadian Coast Guard
• Meaford Fire Department
• Kid’s activities & games
• Sail Georgian Bay introduction to sailing
• OPP boat & K-9 unit
• Heritage Meaford display
• Beautiful Joe Heritage Society display
• Meaford Library display & activities
• Remote control car & truck display
• Skateboard demonstrations

2pm-9pm Meaford Harbour
Live entertainment
• Honeyhammers
• Bored of Education
• Vickie Van Dyke & Friends

2pm Meaford Museum
Historical walking tour of downtown

Dusk – Meaford Harbour
Meaford Kinsmen Club Fireworks

posted June 23rd, 2012
Retirement lessons

What are you going to do when you retire?

Some people figure retirement’s a great time to learn new things, even go back to school. That’s what Walter Martin thought he’d do when he retired from farming in the Kindersley, Saskatchewan area and moved to Saskatoon about 10 years ago.

“I wasn’t quite ready to put my feet up and spend the rest of my life looking out the window,” says the 82-year-old. So he decided to take a few classes at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S). Two weeks ago, he received his Bachelor of Science honours degree in land use and environmental studies.

Walter Martin - Retired farmer earns degree at 82

The experience “just sort of grew” he told the U of S communications department; those few classes sparked his interest, and he decided to plunge right in. “How in the world did I get myself into this?” he sometimes wondered. “But once you start something, you pretty near have to finish it, don’t you?”

Some retirement! Even as he studied and did the coursework, he continued to help his son work the old farm.

And what’s he going to do now that he’s earned his degree? Settle into retirement?

Nope. Martin’s considering either enrolling in more undergraduate courses next fall, or might just apply for a master’s degree program.

posted June 22nd, 2012
Rolling Stones: Rollin’ into retirement? Or rockin’ on the road?

Mick turns 69 next month. Keith will join him in December. Charlie just turned 71. And Ronnie Wood’s a spry(?) 65. Are they ready for retirement?

Apparently not.

The Rolling Stones

The latest word in this speculation-denied story (in which the press first generates a rumour, and then reports the denial of the rumour, thus getting two stories about nothing, really) is that the Stones aren’t going to retire after headlining the Glastonbury Festival in England later this summer.

Apparently they were “said” to be planning to strut off the stage into a well deserved retirement after celebrating their 50th anniversary with a few gigs this summer, culminating with Glastonbury.

“But representatives of the band have since told NME there is no truth to the reports,” The Sudbury Star reported this week.

Here are Mick’s and Keith’s takes on the road versus retirement (from the official Rolling Stones website):

“If we were bored to death, honestly I don’t think we would do it,” says Mick. “We do enjoy ourselves doing it. Everyone has been saying, How come they can enjoy themselves? They should be bored to death doing this. We’re still having a lot of fun.”

“My question [to those who wonder why the Stones are still on the road] would be, Why not?” asks Keith. “Come up with a reason why not. This is what we love to do. And quite honestly, I don’t know what I’d do without it. It’s almost a duty. How many millions are there out there [who want to see the Stones]? Who am I to deny you me?”

posted June 16th, 2012
The Ghost of the Meaford Museum, Part 2

Footsteps on the floorboards of the upper room when no one was there. An inexplicable chill that moved around the room on the hottest of summer days. Objects mysteriously moved by an unseen hand. And visitors who sensed a ghostly feminine presence in an upstairs room.

Ghost of the Meaford Museum

These manifestations had long led people to believe the ghost of a young woman haunted the second floor of the Meaford Museum. But clues to her identity were as evanescent as her presence.

When a gentleman claimed to have spoken to the ghost for hours, Curator Pam Woolner was too shocked to press him for details that might have contained hints about her identity.

She seemed to have a special affinity for an antique rope bed, an old cradle, and a child’s doll. But none of the items were connected; indeed, they came from different families and different eras.

But the items suggested the ghost was perhaps the spirit of a young mother who had died in childbirth – a common enough occurrence in the 1800s. The bed and cradle had come from two old Meaford families, the Sings and the Whitelaws, so perhaps there was a clue hiding in the families’ histories.

Pam searched through the Whitelaw history, and was unable to find a female who had died in her late teens or early 20s. Clues in the Sing family history proved similarly absent. “I got stumped,” says Pam.

Then a volunteer at the museum said she’d had an impression that the woman wasn’t a member of the family; her name was Louise, and she was a governess for the Sing family who’d actually died of an illness in the old roll bed.

Pam returned to the records for the 1880s and found a tantalizing clue. One year’s census showed a young woman named Louisa, of the right age, living with the Sings as a servant – though her position wasn’t specified. The next year, she was no longer listed. And around the same time, a child of two in the family had died of an illness.

Swarthmore Hall

Swarthmore Hall was the home of the Sing family of Meaford

Pam admits the evidence is sketchy. “There’s any number of reasons she disappeared. She could have married. She could have moved. Unfortunately, we can’t find any more information on her. I have no way of tracing it or proving it.”

She also points out that it would have been unusual for a servant to have used such a nice, large bed. “On the other hand, if she had been quite close to the family, they may have felt that nursing her in that bed would have been more humane than in the small cot she would have had,” she says.

Pam never felt afraid of the ghost, but she’d been irritated by the way she moved objects and by her other games. She’d begun giving the spirit a piece of her mind. “I started to talk to her. I was hoping that she’d stop some of her antics, and it seemed to work.”

Things seemed to quiet down. During the 2003 renovation, the significant artifacts were put in storage, and currently none are on display. “The bed had been up for 20 to 30 years, and they had stuffed the mattress with straw,” says Pam. “Unfortunately, that made great nesting grounds, and we had things living in it, so we decided to take it down. And the cradle hasn’t been that relevant to exhibits lately.”

Accessibility requirements meant the upstairs room could no longer be used for exhibit space or even office space, so fewer people climbed the narrow stairway. And with the museum’s renovation, the floor was firmed up, making noises from above barely noticeable in the rooms below.

Has the ghost departed?

“I’d originally thought maybe she had moved out,” says Pam. “But we’ve had some people who claim to be sensitive who’ve been upstairs in the last year or so who have felt her presence. The lady who gave us her name said that she’s not as active now because she’s quite happy with her new home and how it looks. So she doesn’t feel the need to do things.”

Visit the Meaford Museum

posted June 7th, 2012
The Ghost of the Meaford Museum, Part 1

Ghost of the Meaford Museum

The upstairs exhibit room beneath the gables of the hundred-year-old building gathers the heat on a summer day. And with no table or desk to work at, the young volunteer prefers to lie on the floor, the text panels she’s preparing spread in front of her, pencils and pens close at hand. A 14-year-old with a passion for history, Pam loves her summer volunteer job at the Meaford Museum, and she’s soon lost in her work.

She reaches for the blue marker to underline a title, but it’s gone. Of course! She knows it hasn’t simply rolled off or been accidentally kicked to the side. She’ll have better luck looking around a corner or underneath one of the exhibits – a place the marker would have no place being on its own. She prowls the room with some irritation, lifting items and peering behind furniture, until she locates the missing pen behind the wooden rocker of the old baby cradle. The ghost has been at it again!

Pam Woolner first heard about the ghost of the Meaford Museum in 1994, from the curator who hired her on in her first volunteer position. Today, Pam is herself the museum’s curator, and the ensuing 18 years have left her with a host of stories of the woman who walks the upstairs room.

“It used to sound like someone with boots on,” says Pam. “She got a big kick out of walking around, because I think she knew we could hear her footsteps downstairs.”

Before the renovation of the museum in 2003, the building – which was built to house the town’s pump house in 1895 – had not been much modified. Dark rooms crowded with antique curios led visitors to a winding narrow stairway up to the small exhibit room under the eaves. Former museum curator Fred MacDonnell once called the building a “dark, dank hole”.

The upstairs flooring was the original wood, and the thumps and creaks it gave off when someone (or something) crossed it told of their passing.

With no insulation, the upper room trapped summer heat, and Pam says it could regularly reach 120 degrees F. So the presence of the spirit was that much more noticeable. “That particular space would get hot very quickly,” says Pam, “But it wasn’t unusual to be walking around and all of a sudden have the temperature plummet 15 degrees in a spot maybe 2 feet square.”

Visitors would comment on “the cold spot”.

“There was no rational reason for it,” says Pam. “And it would move around; it was never in the same spot. Sensitive people would mention it and ask if we had a ghost.”

Her actions, and the ghost was a “she” as far as everyone was concerned, seemed centered around three artifacts in the upstairs exhibit: a century-old rope bed, an antique cradle, and a child’s doll. “She didn’t like it when we changed the way they were set up or put different things in them,” says Pam. “She would let us know she wasn’t too impressed.”

A few years back, a Meaford woman asked Pam if she’d come across some items her family had donated years before. Pam discovered a few pieces of weaving that fit the description, and tucked them in the cradle. When the woman arrived the next day to see the items, they were nowhere to be found. “She decided to move them on me,” says Pam with a sigh. “She made me look like a complete idiot in front of the lady who’d come in.”

It was months before the items surfaced – on a shelf in the attic behind a locked door. To this day, no one who would have had access to the key has admitted to moving them.

Another time, the morning after setting up a display case of men’s grooming supplies in the upstairs room, staff discovered it had been completely rearranged. “It looked better,” says Pam. “We left it that way.”

Even as a teen, when Pam had to crawl around looking for pencils that had mysteriously disappeared, she never felt afraid of the spirit. “She isn’t malevolent. I’ve never felt threatened by her or scared by her,” she says. “I’ve been frustrated by her jokes, irritated, duped by thinking there was someone walking around upstairs, but I’ve never had any fear.”

The gentleman climbs the narrow stairway heavily, and soon he can be heard moving around upstairs as he examines the exhibit. Pam has a lot of work to do, and visitors pop in throughout the day, so the shadows have grown long before she notices that the upstairs visitor hasn’t yet come down. Nearly three hours have passed, and the exhibit is small. She realizes suddenly that she hasn’t heard his footsteps in some time. He was somewhat heavyset, she remembers, and a tingle of worry crosses her spine. What if he’s fallen over, or had a heart attack, even? It’s only when she heads for the stairs to check that she hears the man descending.

“He told me he’d talked to her for quite an extensive period of time,” says Pam. But, taken aback by the idea that the spirit had actually spoken, she didn’t press the man for details. “I remember asking what she looked like, but I was a little too shocked to ask exactly what they talked about. I wish I had now.”

So who is the ghostly figure who haunts the Meaford Museum? Some have suggested her story lies in a tragic past. More on that in Part 2.

posted June 1st, 2012
Meaford woman shares her royal collection

Meaford’s Diane Leach has looked up to Queen Elizabeth since she was a child. She says Elizabeth provided her with a strong female role model and helped show her how to be a good mother and contributing member of society. And for more than 20 years, she’s been collecting Queen Elizabeth memorabilia. Now, to celebrate Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, the retired custodian from Meaford Community School is sharing her passion with a display in the Community Exhibit Space of the Meaford Museum.

Diane Leach and her royal memorabilia

Diane Leach and her royal memorabilia

The temporary exhibit, “Queen Elizabeth: Role Model and Mentor” includes china, pictures, a homemade pillow and a large assortment of books and magazines you can flip through. Have a seat in the comfortable chairs on loan from Macdonald’s Furniture, and relax with a royal read.

And if you hear a creak from up the stairs, you may be ready to meet the ghost of the Meaford Museum. More on that next week…

posted June 1st, 2012
Two Meaford wines the best in Canada – Coffin Ridge brings home gold

Last week, Meaford’s Coffin Ridge Boutique Winery brought home two double-gold awards from the All Canadian Wine Championships, the oldest and largest wine competition in the country. The double-gold awards recognize the best Canadian wine in each of 49 categories.

Coffin Ridge Boutique Winery

The 2011 L’Acadie took the top spot in the single white hybrids category, and the 2010 Marquette outshone all entries in the “other single red hybrids” category.

Both wines were produced from 100 percent Grey County grapes grown at the winery in the rolling hills northwest of the town of Meaford.

Dry aromatic white
Coffin Ridge is the only Ontario winery growing the l’Acadie white grape, which was developed in Ontario decades ago, and is widely used in Nova Scotia.

Full-bodied red
A hybrid of European and North American grape varieties, this cold-hardy grape was chosen by Coffin Ridge soon after the vinyards were first planted, and the winery says it has found “the new standard cold climate red grape variety.”