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 28th, 2014
Meaford Cider Tour 3 – Beaver Valley Orchard and Cidery

During a long cycle down the Beaver Valley last summer, we caught a glimpse of a rustic hand-lettered sign by the side of the road. “Hard Cider”. While we knew better, we had images of a grizzled farmer filling a gallon jug of his homemade hard apple cider while keeping an eye out for the “revenue man”. Somehow, we managed to miss the more professionally prepared sign at the lane just down the road.

Beaver Valley Orchard and Cidery opened its doors last August in a beautifully renovated barn on the Beaver Valley vacation property John Mott and Judy Cornwell bought in 1997. The couple released the first batch of deliciously dry cider from the Autumn, 2012 pressing last year, even as they began pressing the second year’s batch.

beaver valley cidery barn

In 2007, John and Judy visited a small wine region in Australia and were captivated by the ambience of the small wineries they visited – where the owners would come in from the vineyards to pour wine and talk to customers, then head back out to tend the grapes. It meshed perfectly with the dreams they’d long had of finding a way to live full-time at the farm while earning a living.

“We thought what a lifestyle those guys have,” says Judy. “And we looked around and realized we have 50 acres and Beaver Valley apples, and we’ve got this old barn in good condition that we’d like to preserve and give a new lease on life. We can grow apples and we can make cider.”

Judy and John spent 2008 pulling rocks from the fields where they planned to plant the orchard, and the trees went in the next year. After a year or so of planning and design, working with Kimberley architect Peter Ferguson, they began renovating the barn as the cidery and visitors’ area, finishing in 2011. And in the meantime, they were perfecting their cider-making skills and their recipe.

Beaver Valley Cidery barn interiorThe couple travelled to the UK and to Washington state to take courses from Peter Mitchell, an internationally recognized cider guru, and experimented with different apple blends and yeasts to make batches in small 23-litre carboys. By 2011, they moved from “kitchen-table” batches to the industrial level equipment they’d installed in the barn, and began making larger batches. They were ready to create their first batch for sale in 2012.

2012 turned out to the worst apple-growing year in memory, with early warm spells and a killing frost, and the couple lost their crop. But fortunately, while the apples that did survive locally weren’t attractive enough for eating, they were just fine for cider. They bought the same varieties from local growers (a practice they’ll continue along with using apples from their own orchard), and made the first pressing of Beaver Valley Cider.

“We want to make our cider as natural as possible,” says Judy. “We basically have fermented apples, and don’t add anything back in unless we’re doing a specialty cider.” (This summer, they’re offering a ginger cider, infused with fresh, organic ginger.)

The production from press to pour takes about a year – four to six months of cold, slow fermentation, followed by four to six months of aging. “It’s very minimalist, unfiltered, unpasteurized, unsweetened,” says Judy. “But it mellows out in that time. We do the least possible intrusions and let the apples work their magic.”

The result is a very dry and refreshing cider that’s truly distinctive from other dry ciders. And while it’s not available in your local LCBO, you can order online at the cidery’s website. But better yet, enjoy a visit to the cidery for a tasting, perhaps enhanced by a tray of perfectly paired artisanal cheeses and homemade paté. Then take home a few bottles of your own.

Beaver Valley Cidery bottles   Beaver Valley Cidery platter

posted June 20th, 2014
Meaford Cider Tour Stop 2 – Coffin Ridge’s Forbidden Dry Cider

Last time we ventured 10 minutes East to Thornbury Village Cidery. For the second stop on the Meaford Cider Tour, we’re heading 10 minutes in the opposite direction. Take Highway 26 to the 2nd Concession and turn right (North). Seven kilometres along the road, you’ll discover a sweeping view of Owen Sound Bay and Griffith Island to the North. Nestled to your left is the black and red Coffin Ridge Winery, with a spacious deck overlooking the view.

While Coffin Ridge is gaining a considerable reputation for the wines made from it’s Georgian Bay vineyards, you mustn’t forbid yourself a taste of Forbidden Dry Cider. This cold-pressed cider releases the fresh, crisp flavour of the organic Grey County apples used in its crafting.

Coffin Ridge held its inaugural “Cider Release and Pig Roast” last month, with a (chilly, but sunny) outdoor performance by local favourites, The MacKenzie Blues Band. At the event, they introduced the new black, red and silver Forbidden can, which replaces the traditional “lightning-stopped” bottle the cider originally came in – and announced that for the first time, Forbidden is now available at selected LCBO stores.

Forbidden Dry Cider

Coffin Ridge is open throughout the summer, and beginning tonight, is open till 9 p.m. on Friday nights, with vinter’s plates served till 8. It’s a perfect chance to catch the sunset over the Bay while enjoying the fruits of the local harvest. No reservations necessary.

And beginning Saturday, July 12 through September 13, the Saturday Summer Music series will entertain you from 2 to 4 p.m.

Check the website for more information and hours – and sign up for the mailing list to stay in the loop.

mation and hours – and sign up for the mailing list to stay in the loop.

posted June 14th, 2014
Meaford Cider Tour – First stop, Thornbury Village Cidery

Meaford has long been known for its apples, and if you’ve purchased non-alcoholic cider before, you may have enjoyed the taste of them in a refreshing form. But hard cider has a long tradition in Ontario, and many pioneer farms used the windfall from their orchards to ferment their own batches. Today, hard cider’s experiencing a resurgence. It has become the fastest growing alcoholic beverage in the province, and in recent years, new cideries producing hard cider have cropped up throughout the nearby area.

In the next few weeks, we’ll visit our local craft cideries so you can plan a cider tour of Meaford and area.

Cider Stop 1- Thornbury Village Cidery

Ten minutes from Meaford Haven, you’ll find Thornbury Village Cidery, in the large, old poured-concrete building that housed handling facilities for Mitchell’s Apple Juice a generation ago. There, Cider Master Doug Johnson and his team produce Thornbury Premium Cider, a dry, crisp beverage made from 100 percent fresh-pressed local apples.

Thornbury Village Cidery

The company launched in 2008 as Ontario’s second cidery, and one of the pioneers in the Ontario cider boom. Started by Andre Corbeil and group of (mainly British) investors, the company’s flagship cider was such an immediate hit, that the company was recently bought by Beer Barons (now King Brewery).

Thornbury Premium Apple Cider

Thornbury Premium Cider is a “light, easy to drink, champagne-style cider with just a very slight hint of apple,” says the company’s website. Unfortunately, you can’t tour the cidery or taste samples there, but you can easily find yourself a pint at many of the restaurants within walking distance of the cidery (or at the LCBO).

Stay tuned for our next stop.

posted June 7th, 2014
Owen Sound Seniors Fair 2014

This Wednesday, make sure you head down to the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre in Owen Sound for the Seventh Annual Seniors’ Fair. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the schedule’s full of activities, including seminars and entertainment, and you have more than 77 exhibitors to visit and browse their wares and services.

Seminars include “Driving Success for Seniors”; “Get your Money!”, tips on how to take advantage of Ontario’s tax credits and benefits; and “Fun Changes Behaviour!”, an interactive presentation on ways to keep good mental health, physical wellness and social connectivity.

This year’s entertainment features Murray Smith and Friends, Taoist Tai Chi demonstrations and The Salvation Army Golden Agers Line Dancers.

Exhibits cover a wide array of products and services of interest to retirees.

The event is organized and presented by the United Way Bruce Grey.

For more information, call 519.376.1560 or email

A video from last year’s fair: