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 January 31st, 2014
More historic homes of Meaford

86 Trowbridge Street at the turn of the century

86 Trowbridge Street West today (Google Streetview)

86 Trowbridge Street West

The house was built circa 1900 by either the Finleys or the Littles, but was owned for 50 years by Dr. Francis Louis Eberhart, who purchased it in 1920. In “How Firm A Foundation – Historic Houses of Grey County”, Ruth Cathcart writes that the house epitomized his status in town “It is a rambling, picturesque brick edifice of some character. Count the rooflines, the bays, the chimneys. Admire the cornice and winged brackets, the brickwork, the parade balcony above the curved porch… This is Ontario in all its rock-ribbed stability and prosperity.” (You can see the original square-cornered porch in the historical photo.)

The home was recently extensively renovated and restored.

27 Boucher Street West

27 Boucher Street West

(Note… if you’re from Meaford, you pronounce that “Bow-cher”.) This unique gambrel-roofed home was built in 1907 for Frank Kent – one of the two founders of the Seaman Kent Co. in Meaford. Seaman Kent built the hardwood flooring factory on Boucher Street East in Meaford, and sold their products under the brand name “Beaver Brand”. Fittingly, the house features brass doorknobs embossed with beavers. The main floor features a unique floor plan with three rooms surrounding a triangular hearth, open to each room.

To learn more about Meaford’s historical architecture, visit:
Heritage Meaford
Meaford Museum, which has walking tours available.
Building Stories

posted January 25th, 2014
Historical buildings of Meaford

Meaford postcard

One of the first things you notice when you drive into Meaford is the large number of historical buildings on the main street. Meaford is currently in the process of designating a large section of downtown as a Heritage Conservation District.

Here’s a bit of background on just a few of the buildings you’ll as you explore the town.

Cleland - Clarke House Me

At the southeast corner of Trowbridge and Cook Streets you’ll find the Cleland-Clarke house. It was built in the late 1870s by James Cleland, who was Reeve of Meaford at the time and later became Mayor. In 1889 Dr. John G. Clarke bought the house, and lived there till his death in 1930. More recently it has been home to Meaford’s 100 Mile Market, and currently offers apartments and a retail space.

According to Ruth Cathcart in “How Firm A Foundation – Historic Houses of Grey County”, it’s
a “jewel in the crown of the historic houses of Meaford… This example of [Second Empire style] is truly outstanding…it stands in all its original elaborate, high-style dignity… anchored by two towers capped by shallow hipped roofs…”

The original hitching post remains in front of the building.

Meaford Hall

Until recently, Meaford Hall actually did serve as the Town Hall offices and council chambers. Built in 1908, it would be the largest municipal building in the County of Grey, according to Meaford’s Mayor. “Its massive and graceful outlines will stand as a monument to prosperity and progress.. .and doubtless will be for many generations one of its prominent landmarks.”

The building housed the council chambers (which doubled as a courtroom), town offices, two small jail cells, and the Meaford Public Library. Farmers used the basement on market day, and in time this space served as ballroom, meeting area, and Boy Scout hall. Later divided into smaller rooms, it housed the Women’s Institute, the Meaford Quilters, a Senior Citizen’s club, and the Senior Men’s Euchre Club.

The second-floor Opera House featured a broad stage beneath a proscenium arch, rows of wooden seats (fitted with wire racks for gentlemen’s hats), and a balcony embellished with raised plasterwork acanthus leaves. It played host to travelling entertainers, the Meaford Citizens Band, live theatre, and local events in a theatre known for its exceptional acoustics.

In the last decade, the building has been magnificently restored, with a modern addition to house elevators and additional rooms built in a style that echoes the original.

Meaford Firehall

Next door to Meaford Hall, you’ll find the old Meaford Fire Hall, which served in that capacity as recently as the 1990s. It was designed by a locally-born architect, and built in 1887. Both functional and beautiful, it featured tall, wide doors for the apparatus, and a tall, slender tower for drawing up the canvas hoses to dry. (The upper stage of the tower was rebuilt in its present form in 1908.)

“The use of especially-large, round-arched openings is characteristic of the late 1880s and the 1890s. The fully-developed Romanesque Revival, with massive trim in carved stone and moulded brick, is rare outside Toronto, but is approached here in the overall effect of juxtaposed large and small openings and even in detailing like the arcaded corbelling in the parapet. The whole design is well co-ordinated and has a modest dignity.”

From “Ontario Towns”, by Ralph Greenhill, Ken Macpherson, Douglas Richardson. Published by Oberon.

More next time.

posted January 18th, 2014
Five ways to practice for retirement

Are you ready for retirement? Those in the know suggest that, as with anything you want to do well, you may want to practice. At a time when many are deciding to work a little longer, this can be a way of tasting the good life sooner. It can ease the shock of plunging right into retirement, going cold-turkey on your work life and possibly discovering that too much time on your hands is not for you. It can help you decide, ahead of time, what activities, interests and endeavours you want to pursue in retirement. And it can help you get involved with the folks and local groups in the community where you plan on spending your retirement years.

1. Losing the daily social fix of the workplace can come as a shock to your system. So start building new networks now. Seek out organizations, groups and fellow hobbyists in areas that interest you, and get involved. In addition to enriching your life right now, these relationships will give you a social continuity as you move into retirement.

2. Make sure you’ve sampled the activities you want to enjoy in retirement. Maybe you’ve envisioned retirement as providing the time to take up that hobby or passion you left along the way years ago. Don’t wait. Pick it up again now and find out if its still right for you.

3. Try out new hobbies. Discovering new frontiers is a great way to enrich and liven up your retirement. So think beyond the old ideas you’ve had, and give these a try. By spending time exploring new activities now, you can plan on accommodating those that really grab you.

4. Try living on a little less. If you’re planning on getting by with less income in retirement, find out how that impacts you now, and start to prioritize where you want to spend money in retirement. Getting by with one car in retirement? Try it now. (Put the savings from your experiment into your retirement funds.)

5. Spend as much time as possible in the community you plan on living in – at different times of year. This gives you a better sense of what to expect when you do move, and allows you to get involved now with local activities, community groups, clubs, and even businesses. When it’s time to retire, you’ll already be part of the community.

To plan longer holiday stays in Meaford, visit:

posted January 11th, 2014
Attention Meaford crocheters (and those who’d like to learn)

A new program at the Meaford Public Library is just what you’ve been looking for.

Trina Inglis crocheted her first article more than 40 years ago, and as she refined her technique and created her own designs in the ensuing decades, she always felt it would be wonderful to share her ideas and skills with others. But with her busy life in the city, she could never seem to find the time. “I always thought that when I retired that was one of the things I really wanted to do,” says Trina.

Retirement brought a move to Meaford, and Trina and her husband, Bill, quickly got involved with a variety of activities in the community, including the Meaford Scarecrow Invasion and the Golden Town Cruisers. She also discovered the programs for adults at the Meaford Public Library. “We’re lucky to have so many programs at the library. I think we’re rather unique in that way,” says Trina.

Last September it all came together when Trina launched Meaford’s Crochet Go-Along at the Meaford Public Library. Open to beginners and experienced crocheters alike, the fun, informal class meets every Wednesday morning at 11 a.m. in the library board room. The response has been tremendous.

“We’re trying to help people who want to start from scratch and learn a new craft,” she says. “And for those that are experienced and in various stages of ability, we share things and information and ideas. I try to inspire and encourage.”

Trina Inglis Meaford Crochet Go-Along

Trina Inglis leads the Crochet Go-Along at the Meaford Public Library

If you’re interested in learning how to crochet, or in taking your skills to the next level, at a fun, social gathering, sign up at for the Crochet Go-Along at the front desk at the Meaford Library. “I’m really enjoying having this opportunity,” says Trina. “It’s very rewarding.”

posted January 4th, 2014
Retirement New Year’s Resolutions

The new year brings new and not-so-new financial advice for people planning for or starting retirement. Here are just a few of the recent crop.

Pay down debt, save, and reduce investment fees are three of Canadian Living’s “Five Pre-Retirement New Year’s Resolutions”.

Avoiding getting sucked in by sale prices and publicly predict investment yields are two of the creative ideas in these financial resolutions you might actually keep, from Time Magazine.

Practicing “mindfulness” puts a new perspective on financial planning in Smarter Investor’s resolutions for new retirees.

Our resolution… treasure and enjoy life in this beautiful place. Happy New Year, and here’s to a great 2014!