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 December 28th, 2012
How to avoid carrying a mortgage into retirement

A recent article in the Globe and Mail by Robert McLister reports that almost 25 percent of baby boomers aren’t really that concerned about paying off their mortgage by the time they retire. The article says that, currently, about a quarter of Canadian homeowners continue to carry a mortgage into retirement – and that more than half expect that to be the case.

Mr. McLister points out the risks this attitude carries – including the chance that rising interest rates down the road may turn a manageable monthly expense into something that will quickly cut into the fixed, more modest income you’ll have in your retirement years.

While he suggests that for many, carrying a mortgage into retirement may not be that big a deal – if you are worried about being caught unprepared, you can take certain steps to avoid the risks.

These include working longer; getting a fixed rate mortgage with at least a five-year term; extending your amortization to 30 years; or starting to pay down your mortgage while you’re young. (Unfortunately, baby boomers who haven’t already taken the last bit of advice can’t really take it now.)

While this is all sound advice, Mr. McLister fails to point out another solution. By downsizing (or right sizing) or moving to a less expensive real estate market (or doing both), you can eliminate your mortgage and discover a more enjoyable lifestyle in which to enjoy your financially liberated retirement years.

We just thought we’d point that one out.

posted December 22nd, 2012
Meaford’s Kilannan Brewing Co. now open

Just in time for seasonal cheer, Meaford has a new brewery. Kilannan Brewing Company introduced its first batch, fittingly called “The Inaugural”, recently – and we made a trip to the brewery in Rockford a couple of days ago for a quick tour (and taste, of course). We arrived there just in time. A few dozen silver cans, emblazoned charmingly with the peel-and-stick labels the brewer is using during the early days, were all that was left of The Inaugural.

he Inaugural, Kilannan Brewing Company

The brewer is Spencer Wareham, at 22 the youngest commercial brewer in Ontario, and probably in North America. He began brewing beer four years ago. He reached the legal drinking age in Ontario a year later. “You can buy the ingredients for brewing at 18,” he says with a laugh.

He quickly found his passion in brewing and set out to study the craft at the Siebel Institute of Technology – the oldest brewing school in the U.S. – and at the Doemens Academy in Munich, Germany. Today he has a diploma in brewing technology and his own commercial brewery.

The Inaugural is an amber-coloured, light bodied, crisp beer with a mildly bitter finish. Spencer brewed it using American yeast while waiting on the German yeast he wants to make the altbier recipe he’s settled on. The second batch, in the new style, is being canned as we write.

Viewing the operation, you begin to understand the term “craft brewery”. While the stainless steel brewing vats and fermentation tanks look suitably industrial, when you see the canning station, you realize what a hands-on operation it is. While some of the roughly 1200 litres produced go into kegs, most of it is packaged, one at a time, by hand at the canning station.

Spencer Wareham at the Kilannan Brewing Co. canning station
Kilannan is named after the family farm near Annan, and Spencer’s dad is a big supporter – helping to man the shop on the day we visited. While his main recipe will be the German-style altbier, Spencer says that some day he may brew a beer using only local grains and hops.

Spencer Wareham, Brewmaster, Kilannan Brewing Company

Spencer Wareham with a glass of Killannan Brewing Company’s first offering: The Inaugural.

posted December 15th, 2012
Southern Georgian Bay retirement homes sweet homes

The Fall/Holiday issue of OUR HOMES Southern Georgian Bay features a group of retirees who have made this area their retirement home sweet home.

One of the questions the editors asked the Georgian Bay retirees was, “Why here?” Here’s a sampling of their answers.

Originally, weekenders in the area, Chris and Norma Desjardins appreciated a small-town rhythm a world away from the city, yet within two hours of Toronto. “It’s a great convenience to have relatively easy access to Toronto when we feel the pull of the big city,” they told OUR HOMES. “But for day-to-day living, life in a small friendly community with a broad range of activities is hard to beat.”

Margaret and Norbert Pirk echoed the sentiment. “In Southern Georgian Bay we’re part of a year-round, active community with all the amenities one could desire, but close enough to Toronto for the occasional city fix,” they told the editors.

Lee Rosenzveig mentioned loving the natural environment and the pace of life here, and Pete Russell explained that he and his wife moved here to pursue the outdoor activities that abound in Southern Georgian Bay. Pete, who’s cycled all over the world, finds the local roads and hills and vistas, “one of the best areas I have ridden in.”

Dave and Myrna Bumstead are local Meaford retirees, so choosing the area wasn’t a factor. But they do emphasize the activities they enjoy, including snowshoeing bush trails minutes from their retirement community. And Karen and Richard Pettit count golf, cycling, motorcycling, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing – and the arts – as enjoyable local attractions.

What’s your reason? If you haven’t yet visited, it’s time to discover what your retirement lifestyle can be like.

posted December 8th, 2012
Newsflash: Happy retirees live longer

While you might dismiss this as common sense, Newsday recently reported this “startling” fact, citing a recently concluded study by researchers at the University of Western Ontario and the Yale School of Public Health.

happy retirees live longer

But seriously, the results suggest – as the researchers noted – that you might want to include psychological planning for retirement along with more traditional planning – such as financial planning, travel and activities.

The long-term study followed 394 retired folks from small-town Ohio for 23 years and concluded that those who said they enjoyed retirement lived almost five years longer than those who confessed they were unhappy in retirement (after adjusting for employment status, health and socioeconomic status.)

The important variable seemed to be a positive attitude toward retirement (or ATR, as the researchers dub it.) Those with a positive ATR lived a median 4.9 years longer while those with a negative ATR were 1.71 times more likely to pass away.

So working on building a positive attitude toward retirement (and aging in general) is a worthwhile investment. This might involve envisioning how you want to spend your retirement years, where you’d enjoy living, what activities you’d love to participate in, and what social activities you’d enjoy – and then taking steps to build these into your retirement lifestyle. The act itself can be a positive step to help you have good feelings about retirement; by planning to enjoy a meaningful and active retirement, you probably will.

posted December 1st, 2012
Meaford Grannies raise funds for African grandmothers

Back in 2007, Stephen Lewis, Canada’s former UN ambassador and the former UN special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, spoke at Meaford’s United Church about the plight of grandmothers in many sub-Saharan African countries.

With AIDS rampant in many countries, these women have stepped in to care for their orphaned grandchildren – sometimes caring for as many as 10 to 15 in one household. One estimate suggests that 40 to 60 percent of orphans live in grandmother-headed households. After burying their own adult children, and often with little support, they do their best to care for and raise the children. “They display astonishing reserves of love, courage and emotional resilence, even while grieving the loss of their own adult children,” says the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s website.

The Foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign had stepped in to provide support for these women, raising funds to invest at the community level – food, educational supplies, medical care, counselling, programs to help them become self-sufficent and more.

Hearing the stories, a small group of women in the audience that day decided to start their own local fundraising chapter, and Meaford Grannies was soon an active fundraising group.

Meaford Grannies holds a number of fundraisers every year, including a garage sale, plant sales, and a slient auction, and they welcome new members to help run the events.

If you’re looking for a worthy cause to get involved with during your retirement, this might be it. Becoming a Meaford Granny is easy – just let them know. (In fact, you don’t have to be a granny – or even a woman – to be part of the effort.)

Your help to raise local funds will have a huge impact on African grandmothers in these difficult circumstances.

For more information, call Sandy Farrell at 519-538-4259.