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 September 26th, 2013
Visit a hidden gem of Meaford – tour Lakeview Cemetery

Lakeview Cemetery is a quietly beautiful place tucked away on a hill overlooking Georgian Bay. A restful, reflective place, it’s shaded by ancient trees, ornamented with carefully pruned evergreens and set off by a quiet pond enjoyed by two swans.

This weekend, as part of Culture Days, the Meaford Museum offers guided walking tours of the cemetery.

It’s an opportunity to learn about the history of the largest cemetery in the Municipality, the “residents”, the age-old mausoleum and much more.

Tours will be held at 2 p.m on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday. No need to register; just meet by the Cemetery sign. (Donations are gratefully accepted.)

Lakeview Cemetery, Meaford


posted September 25th, 2013
Stomp your heart out in Meaford this weekend

Here’s a free event that fits right in with Culture Days this weekend – the 100 Mile Stomp. Head down to Meaford Harbour on Sunday, September 29, any time after 1 p.m., and enjoy entertainment, crafts, food and fun from local businesses. That local focus explains the 100 mile part. What about the “Stomp”.

While the artists will perform a lot of their own music, at least 50 percent of the performance will be the songs of Stompin’ Tom Conners. It’s a tremendous Stompin’ Tom Tribute festival!

Enjoy the music, buy CDs, crafts and other goods, and enjoy food from local merchants.

Visit the 100 Mile Stomp website to learn more.


posted September 21st, 2013
Canada’s Culture Days next weekend

Next weekend, Meaford is celebrating “Culture Days”, along with towns and cities across Canada.

Culture Days began in 2009 as in initiative to encourage Canadians to discover local culture and make it a daily habit.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday (September 27 to 29), hundreds of thousands of artists and cultural organizations across the country participate in free interactive and “behind the scenes” activities to discover their cultural spirit and passion.

Meaford has a thriving cultural scene, and while many of the activities necessarily cost money (such as musical and theatrical events at Meaford Hall), the community is packed with free happenings (such as art shows at that very same venue.)

Stay tuned for an update on some of the events taking place around town next weekend.


posted September 14th, 2013
The Gumshoe Gals get going – A retirement success story

The dames were meant for each other. Isabelle collared pharmaceutical fakeloo artists. Carol gumshoed adoption cases. Just a couple of dolls with too much time on their hands once they fell into the big sleep – retirement, that is. It wasn’t the cabbage. It was the calmness. Retirement was for palookas. They were both as antsy as stoolies stuck in stir.

So they decided to put their sharp-eyed, sharp-eared skills to better use. They got their tickets. They became investigators – the private kind. This is their story.

private-investigator-cornwall

When Cornwall, Ontario’s Carol Villeneuve retired from her career in healthcare in 2007, she was only 57, and she quickly discovered she had no talent for the retired life. “I was restless; I had to do something. You can’t just sit still.” The pro bono work she’d done for years, helping people find their adopted children or birth parents, kept her reasonably busy. But it was getting expensive. “I realized I just couldn’t afford to do that for nothing anymore, so I went and got my PI licence.”

Meanwhile, Isabelle Keeley, of Ottawa, missed the career she’d left behind. Flying all over the world, she used to ensure the integrity of clinical trials for the pharmaceutical industry, exposing fraud and misconduct. “You want to stay engaged. I don’t think I was ready for the rocking chair on the porch,” she says. During her travels, she’d noticed that she was almost invisible to nearby strangers in public places. “I’d be sitting by myself at a restaurant reading a book, and people just disclosed the most amazing things at all the tables around me. Nobody ever paid any attention to somebody with grey hair.” Private investigations seemed to fit the bill for her post-retirement career.

At the P.I. exam, they ended up at the same table. “Isabelle stuck out mainly because she was another grey head just like me,” says Carol with a laugh. “The whole room was full of young people taking private security; we were the only ones taking private investigating.”

They struck up a conversation. “We just connected like you wouldn’t believe,” says Carol. They even drove the same Kia – and both had manual transmissions. “We said it was meant to be; it was fate.”

In May, they launched I C Investigations, “An All Female Agency” serving Ontario and beyond. The two applied their specialized skills to their new careers, widening the focus to attract a broader clientele. Carol’s experience in adoption investigations suited her perfectly for skip tracing and finding missing persons. “I remember saying to Isabelle, ‘If I can find an adoptee with no name, I can find anybody with a name,'” says Carol with a laugh. Isabelle’s experience gave her rare insight into fraud cases.

The women find their gender – and appearance – gives them an edge on the stereotypical male P.I. “We’re good at what we do,” says Carol. “And as women, we’re not intimidating. Would you look at a little old lady and think she’s trying to follow you? Noooo. If you’re sitting beside me, and you’re two teenagers talking, would you give me the time of day? Noooo. It’s wonderful for surveillance. And if we have to serve papers, people will answer the door every time if it’s a woman. We can get away with a lot of things that others can’t.”

Isabelle recalls sitting in the car outside the home of an acquaintance of someone they were looking for. She decided to just knock on the door and ask where they were. “At first the woman who answered looked frightened when I asked, but I told her it was absolutely nothing bad – don’t worry. So she said ‘Sure,’ and gave me the cell phone number, the address, the whole thing. I don’t think a man might have got the information.” (It really wasn’t for anything bad, Isabelle assures us.)

After four months in the trade, the pair has kept busy, a case always on the go, with current assignments in Northern Ontario and the U.S. – and they’re really enjoying their “retirement careers”. “Extremely so,” says Carol. “A lot of people at our age just aren’t ready to stop. They say 60 is the new 40!”


posted September 6th, 2013
A development primer – how to turn a field into a community

Last month we looked at the history of Meaford Haven – revealing how a chance drive through Meaford inspired Toronto developer Pierre Boiron to begin work on a unique Three Seasons retirement community.

From the beginning the project caught the attention of people looking for a friendly, small-town Ontario retirement community, and Boiron has received a lot of interest from potential residents.

Now, as the project has achieved a number of important steps and cleared numerous hurdles on the way from dream to developed community, folks keep asking, “When can I move in?” To help answer that question, here’s a behind-the-scenes look at how a major development such as Meaford Haven progresses.

When Pierre committed to moving forward with Meaford Haven, he planned to take all the necessary steps to prepare the property for construction. Then, he’d sell the new subdivision (including the market research, the vision and guidelines to achieve it) to a builder who would actually build and sell the bungalows, condominium apartments, and other buildings in the retirement community. As the very first step, Pierre made an offer on the land, conditional on successfully getting approval on a draft plan of subdivision from the Municipality of Meaford.

After nearly three years of painstaking work creating a vision for the community, laying out the neighbourhood, retaining various consultants and engineers, listening to nearby residents and the many stakeholders in the region (including the County and conservation authorities), and satisfying all demands, Meaford Haven had its draft plan of subdivision approved. The sale of the property concluded and Boiron took over the property.

A Draft Plan of Subdivision comes with a list of conditions of approval that must be approved before construction gets underway. Conditions include such items as installing roads, water, sewers (sanitary and storm), providing utilities, telephone and cable to each lot, and posting of security (usually in the form of letters of credit from a bank.) At this stage, Boiron had the option of satisfying these conditions and selling the lots to a builder, or selling the land as is. As originally planned, it was time to seriously seek out interested builders.

During the period Meaford Haven was taking the steps to get the Draft Plan of Subdivision approved, Boiron was also working hard to market the community to potential buyers – a big added value for the builder. The builder is not only getting a property ready for development but it comes complete with a vision, market research, recommendations and choices for home styles and amenities. And the Meaford Haven development team plans to assist the builder as much as possible in implementing these, insisting on high standards for the community.

A website directed specifically at builders, www.meafordhavenforsale.com, presents details on the development to date, including development charges, and offers for sale the residential development blocks and, separately, the retirement residence block.

The website points out numerous advantages of the site, the location, the concept and the demand, saying some nice things about Meaford in the process. It also addresses the potential obstacle of Meaford’s low absorption rate – the yearly number of new homes sold in a community. A builder’s Number One interest is how many units might he sell in a year. Meaford currently issues 40-50 new home building permits a year, so a builder might conclude he could only sell 15 or 20 homes a year. Meaford Haven’s take on this relies on its market research and the careful development of the concept for the retirement community: with the right product in place, the demand will increase.

Boiron is currently speaking to a few builders interested in the Meaford Haven concept and hopes to strike a deal (or deals) before long. The options are many.

One builder might buy all the residential blocks, including the retirement residence, leaving Boiron to develop the commercial/medical centre.

A builder may buy only the residential sites for the cluster bungalows and low-rise condominiums, and a retirement residence specialist would buy that block.

Different builders might purchase different residential blocks.

Another option might see Boiron entering into a joint venture with a builder or builders, providing the land as collateral. Builders can find this arrangement attractive as it makes financing easier.

So, there are lots of ways to take the next steps with Meaford Haven, but from the standpoint of the new resident in the community, the end result is the same: a beautiful new home in a small town retirement community where you can age in place, staying in the neighbourhood you’ve grown to love with the people you’ve come to know.