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 July 27th, 2013
New developments for Meaford health centre

Progress on Meaford’s new health clinic, the Don Bumstead & Family Medical Centre, continues apace.

Earlier this month, the clinic, which is located next to Meaford Haven, was named in honour of local businessman, Don Bumstead, who donated both cash and the land for the medical centre – amounting to about 50 percent of the projected construction costs. Bumstead, whose Don Bumstead Ford dealership was a Meaford fixture for decades, passed away this March at the age of 92. The donation was one of the last in Bumstead’s long history of contribution to the community, including many years service with the local Rotary Club.

The Municipality of Meaford has pledged $25,000 a year toward the project for 10 years.

And earlier today, organizers raised almost $11,000 in donations at the kick-off to the Centre’s “Buy a Brick” campaign.

With plans to start construction next April and open the clinic by August, organizers have an ambitious fundraising goal of roughly $500,000, and the new campaign hopes to raise a big chunk of that. For $20, you can donate a single brick, or for $50, you contribute three; if you didn’t have a chance to get downtown for the event today, you’ll have opportunities throughout the coming months to purchase bricks at community events. North East Grey Health Clinics is hoping to sell 8,000 before construction starts.

Organizers say the new centre will help Meaford attract younger family doctors, who “prefer to work in a co-operative environment, technologically up-to-date, with shared overhead and other health disciplines available.”

NEGHC and a community recruiting board is already working at finding physicians to set up practices in the medical centre. Visit www.greyhealthclinics.ca.


posted July 20th, 2013
Rediscover childhood at Meaford’s riding toy museum

The young farm kid from Meaford stared at the shiny pedal car in the Owen Sound store, imagining climbing in and taking the wheel. “I thought, ‘Those rotten town kids,'” says Carl Jolley today. “‘Riding their own car down the sidewalk.’ I’d give my right arm for that.

Sixty years and more later, while he’s too big to ride most of them, Carl has his share of pedal cars and bikes and wagons and even rocket cars. A few years after retiring from a career as product engineer with General Motors in Oshawa, Carl opened Jolley Riding Toy Museum in his Meaford home to showcase the growing collection of unique vehicles he’d started collecting in 1987. Today the museum features some 400 pieces – and that’s after Carl recently sold off three truck loads to make more room.

Manufacturers have long put out kid-size versions of what was on the road. Back before the 1940s and 1950s pedal cars that captured Carl’s imagination, there were horse drawn farm wagons, delivery wagons, sulkies and hand-cranked Ford runabouts.

“I’m amazed by the mechanics of them and the beauty of them,” says Carl of his passion for riding toys. “It’s amazing to see what kids had a hundred years ago.”

Toys and engineering fit together in Carl’s life. When he was still in Grade 5, he began designing and making wooden lawn ornaments. To get them to town, he built a trailer for his bike and hauled them door to door, for sale at $1.50. “I’d come back home with five or six bucks, and I had the world by the tail,” says Carl.

Carl Jolley with the steam shovel toy he made at 12

Carl Jolley with the steam shovel toy he made at 12

At 12, he made a working steam shovel and tractor trailer out of wood and metal. “I wanted to copy the steam shovel that was up at the gravel pit,” he says. “They had these metal ones in the stores, but I knew there was no use asking for one of them, so I built my own. Mom gave me a sheet of wallpaper, and I got it upside down on the kitchen floor in the wintertime with a yardstick to draw up my plans.” The design challenges obsessed him. “I’m supposed to be listening to the teacher in the two-room school here, and I’m sketching the bucket and wondering how I can make that out of tin or wood so it tilts.”

That summer, he began selling bikes from the family barn. “Bikes were another way to make money,” he says. “Anything but farming.” The bike business thrived throughout Carl’s school years, but eventually he decided he needed to head to the city to make a living, and he sold his remaining stock to his teenage kid brother, Ralph. (Ralph went on to sell bikes for the next 40 years, and continues to run Jolley’s Farm Toys and Diecast with his wife, Joanne.)

Carl bought his first wagon in 1987 – well, his first several wagons. “Ralph got me down to Pennsylvania,” he says with a laugh. “We came home with seven wagons on the roof of his car. I was hooked.”

As the collection grew, he originally stored it in the barn next to Jolley’s Cycle Centre and Toys, and when Shane Jolley, Ralph’s son, moved the bike side of the operation to Owen Sound, Carl showcased some of his collection in the recently vacated space. Then, when Carl moved back to Meaford, he built a wing of his new home to house the museum.

Today, Carl can devote his time to restoring and rebuilding the finds that have lost paint and parts and other details during decades of play and rough storage. His workshop usually has a project on the go, and by dismantling and rebuilding the toys, Carl is in some way returning to those days of his youth when he spent school hours sketching designs. “I tell kids to challenge themselves,” he says. “Make things with your hands. There’s great joy in that.”

Kids and school groups are welcomed to the museum, which is open by appointment, and occasionally a delighted child gets to actually take one of the vehicles for a little spin.

A stroll through the extensive collection, including catalogue descriptions of many of the pieces, can take you back to your own childhood and much further.


posted July 12th, 2013
Retirement a chance to discover your inner kid in Meaford

If you’ve spent any time in Meaford, you know it’s a year-round “playground”. In the summer, there’s sailing, swimming, fishing, boating, hiking, cycling, surfing, golfing, shopping, and more. In the winter, you can curl, ski, cross-country ski, snowmobile, toboggan, snowshoe, skate, and that’s for starters.

Here are some other ways to enjoy your love of play. Until July 28, the Meaford Museum is featuring an exhibit of games and toys stretching back at least a century. Canada At Play: 100 Years of Games, Toys and Sports, is on display in the galleries at Meaford Hall, and features areas focussing on winter sports, toys at home, factory toys, handmade toys and educational toys. You can even play in the play area; the travelling exhibit from the Royal Ontario Museum has been enhanced by the generous donation of local toys.

For more info, call 519-538-5974 or email meafordmuseum@meaford.ca.

Meanwhile, Meaford is home to a very special collection of toys year-round, and next week, we’ll take a visit to Jolley’s Riding Toy Museum. To whet your appetite, check out these hot vehicles from decades past (the collection goes all the way back to Canada’s first birthday.)


posted July 4th, 2013
The story of Meaford Haven’s Ontario retirement community

One summer day in 2010, Pierre Boiron, a Toronto real estate broker, author, educator and developer, drove through Meaford on his way to look at some investment properties along the southern shore of Georgian Bay. Soon after he passed the deep blue sweep of the Bay in downtown Meaford, he spotted a ReMax “For Sale” sign off Highway 26, and pulled over. The 38-acre property was on the edge of one of Ontario’s prettiest small towns, close to Georgian Bay, and local homes were affordable relative to the GTA. He was intrigued.

“I came to Meaford by accident,” says Boiron. “I knew very little about the town before. But the more I dug into it, the more I thought there was potential here.”

Five years before, Boiron had successfully developed a subdivision in Pickering, obtaining Plan of Subdivision approval on the property and selling the 39-lot subdivision to a builder. The larger Meaford property looked to offer much greater potential.

Boiron sought out local businesspeople, and the portrait they painted of Meaford sparked a vision for an “aging-in-place” retirement community. “I talked to many, many people, Realtors mostly, and they all told me about all the activities available here – skiing, golfing, boating, cycling, hiking, culture, entertainment, and all the rest. They said that, along with the quiet, small town atmosphere, made Meaford a popular retiree and pre-retiree destination,'” he says.

The property – located close to downtown and Meaford harbour and right next door to the Meaford Golf Course, yet virtually “out in the country” – was perfectly situated for a neighbourhood of active retirees and pre-retirees through to those seniors requiring nursing home care. Boiron made an offer on the property, conditional on getting approvals in place for a 400 unit subdivision, including 320 homes in bungalows and low-rise apartments. Meaford Haven – and its “Three Seasons Community™” concept – began to take shape.

***

Pierre BoironBoiron grew up in Avignon, France and launched his career in real estate in the 1950s. By 1967, he had operated his own construction, land development and property management companies, and he’d developed two residential subdivisions in France. “Those were a piece of cake,” he says with a chuckle.

But he began to look for new opportunities – in life and in business – beyond France. “I considered Africa, the U.S. and Australia, but Canada seemed to be the best,” says Boiron. “At the time, it was a very foggy decision, but it turned out to be the best. I’m very glad I chose Canada; it’s a very good country.”

He moved to Toronto with his wife in 1967, and began working in industrial, commercial and investment real estate (ICI) sales and leasing. During the next 40 years, he became one of Canada’s foremost ICI professionals.

Early on, Boiron founded a commercial real estate brokerage firm, which he eventually sold to Canada Permanent Trust. He also invested in (owned or held substantial interests in) industrial buildings, a commercial development, and an office building. He served on the 12-member ICI Executive Council of the Toronto Real Estate Board. And over the years, he shared his knowledge with other real estate professionals, teaching courses and writing. Beginning in the 1970s, he lectured on commercial real estate for the Ontario Real Estate Association, and he currently teaches commercial real estate investing courses at the University of Toronto. He’s the author of Commercial Real Estate Investing in Canada: The Complete Reference for Real Estate Professionals and Investors (Wiley Canada, 2007).

It sounds like more than enough to fill anyone’s schedule. But then Boiron took a drive along Georgian Bay.

***

“Meaford Haven allows people to grow older while staying in one place, to remain in the same community as their living needs change over time” says Boiron. “We’ll have cluster bungalows close to the golf course for pre-retirees, semi-retirees and retirees; low-rise condominium apartments for when people would prefer something a little smaller; and a retirement residence on-site for when people require additional help with their daily needs – along with a medical and commercial centre which might house such businesses as a pharmacy, hearing-aid centre and offices for optometrists, dentists and others.”

Meaford Haven’s “three seasons” refer to these stages of retirement life, and the idea is that a true dynamic and cohesive community will grow to include younger 50-plus folks along with older residents. As people move through the seasons they’ll stay involved with the community, giving back as they have more time and, in turn, receive care and companionship as they grow older.

The development will include a clubhouse and lots of opportunities to be involved with the Meaford Haven community and the Meaford community at large.

During the last two years, as Boiron’s team has worked on developing the property and getting the necessary approvals in place, they also began to inform potential residents about Meaford Haven, asking for their input on the project and gathering names of people interested in living there. The response has been extremely positive, says Boiron. “We heard many encouraging things from people participating in our ‘virtual focus groups’. And the concept has evolved with the feedback we received.”

“Most places for seniors isolate themselves from the community,” said one respondent. “In a place like Meaford I would prefer not to have a gated community… It is wonderful to be able to transition from a home to a unit in a condo that has medical attention.”

“Aging in place means that the necessary medical facilities are there, and it’s a social place that has different activities for different levels of people,” said another. “I’d appreciate possible social group outings and a place where there is a environment of feeling accepted, while at the same time, not pressured to do something that you would not be interested in doing.”

Earlier this year, Meaford approved Meaford Haven’s Draft Plan of Subdivision, and the next step of finding a builder is well underway. More on that in Part 2, “A development primer – how to turn a field into a community.”