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 22nd, 2015
A new John Muir day in Meaford – events

While April 21 has been designated and celebrated as John Muir Day in many parts of the world, including California and Scotland, Meaford has dubbed this Saturday, September 26 as our own, homegrown John Muir Day.

As we’ve written before, famed naturalist, author and environmentalist, John Muir spent a productive couple of years in Meaford, working at the Trout Hollow Mill. On Saturday, the Meaford Museum will celebrate Muir and his Meaford connection with a guided tour of the Trout Hollow Trail, including a visit to the site of his cabin and information about the archeological dig that determined its location more than a decade ago. The tour begins at 10 a.m., and admission is $5, with tickets available at the museum.

With the leaves beginning to turn and the weather freshening, it’s the perfect time for a hike along the river trail, which also follows an old elevated mill race and visits the concrete ruins of one of Meaford’s early power stations.

Back at the museum at noon, an open house begins with a scavenger hunt and displays by local artisans at the newly expanded museum gift shop.

At 3 p.m., enjoy a talk on “John Muir in Canada – Contributions to a Philosophy of Nature”, by Connie Simmons, an Alberta Muir scholar who completed her dissertation on John Muir in Canada at the University of Alberta in 2007.

The day wraps up with a series of musical performances at the Harbour Pavilion, including Bambalamb on percussion, Billy Fairley on drums, the Celts, Seamus the Piper and more.

posted September 18th, 2015
A history of Meaford Golf Course, Part II

Ivan Alderdice grew up on a large cash-crop farm in Meaford, but he was a born entrepreneur – always on the lookout for a new opportunity. “I always had about three different careers,” he says with a laugh. Over the years, he operated a long-haul trucking company, worked as a broker for McIntee Realty, and developed a successful subdivision in Meaford – all while he continued to run an 800-acre farm. When the Meaford Golf Course came up for sale in 1991, he was intrigued. “I was never a golfer, beyond charity tournaments and that kind of thing,” he says. “But the subdivision was finished and I was looking for a good investment.”

At the time, he was already maintaining his real estate and farming careers, but the agricultural side of course management appealed to him. “That was the easy part for me – hard for other people, but easy for me. I had a spray licence in agriculture way before they even brought them in to golf courses.” He and his wife, Mary, made an offer.

From the beginning, Ivan planned to expand the course from its original nine holes. Initially, he added an additional set of tee blocks for each hole with enough difference in position to begin to approximate an 18-hole course. Meanwhile, to accommodate the expansion, he’d bought two properties off Nelson Street at the same time he purchased the course. Eight years of careful planning and hard work clearing and transforming the rough property later, nine brand new holes were ready for play.

The 18-hole course opened in 2000, and the new nine holes became known as the Millenium. The older nine were now christened Randle for the original owners of the course.

Ivan’s proud of the work he’s done to transform the golf course, particularly the natural and agricultural enhancements. He added ponds to capture water, which previously flooded the lower holes in the spring, and to stop erosion and provide for irrigation. “You used to have to wear rubber boots to play the 7th fairway right till July,” says Ivan. “So when you’re out there cursing me for these big ponds, remember they’re not just a trap for your balls. They’re there to control the water in the spring.”

Meaford Golf Course aerial view

He’s also proud of the club’s scale. While modern golf trends toward longer and longer courses, he believes golfers are really looking for shorter, but still challenging, courses – the kind of play you’ll find at the Meaford Golf Course. “We’ve got to get rid of our ‘architect’s eagles’; we shouldn’t be building these 7,000 yard courses,” he says.

Even as the 8th hole on the Randle Run earned Grey-Bruce Golf’s recognition as one of the “toughest holes in Grey-Bruce” (with the Millenium #1 “a close second”), the course plays quickly, and golfers are welcome to play four or six hole configurations.

“It’s supposed to be fun,” says Ivan. “It’s called a game.”

Meaford Golf Course

posted September 15th, 2015
A history of Meaford Golf Course, Part I

It was the summer of 2005. Great-aunt Minnie, a spry and sharp 90, stood looking down at the 9th green from the clubhouse deck at the Meaford Golf Course. She turned to her great-niece’s husband. “Ivan,” she said, “when did you change the green?” Ivan Alderdice, who’d owned the course with his wife, Mary, since 1991, was surprised. He’d enlarged the green in the late 90s when he expanded the course to 18 holes. But Minnie’d just arrived from Lloydminster, Saskatchewan for a wedding celebration and family reunion, and as far as he knew, she hadn’t seen the previous set-up.

“How did you know I changed it?”

“I used to work here when I was a girl, back in 1934,” Minnie replied.

“You could have hit me with a sledge,” says Ivan. “It turns out Minnie’s aunt was married to Mr. Randle, who built the course in 1934.”

As the fifth owners of the club, Ivan and Mary have seen the course through more than a quarter of its 81 years, longer than any other owner, and they’ve taken it from its original 9-hole configuration to a challenging 18 holes, without losing the comfortable scale and casual atmosphere that made it unique. The newly discovered connection with the founder seemed about right.

It was a new arrival from Windsor, the manager of the Bank of Montreal, who first got the idea of a golf course in Meaford rolling, and Randle’s farm was a great location. Enlisting the enthusiastic support of the Owen Sound Golf and Country Club, a group of volunteers built a dam, installed irrigation, and mapped out the 9-hole course. “They were serious,” says Ivan. “They did a pretty good job back then.”

Meaford  Golf Course 1930s

Meaford Golf Course

While the course managed to thrive during the Depression, World War II drew many of Meaford’s men overseas, and it almost ceased to be a golf course, says Ivan. “It went back to a farm for a bit. They cut hay off the fairways, but the greens weren’t kept.”

After the war, Archie Platt took over the course and brought it back to life. With many in Meaford looking forward to getting back to golfing, it became a real community effort, with volunteers carefully tending to the greens and the fairways. Platt also built additions to the clubhouse, including where the pro shop is currently located, and focussed a lot of his effort on the restaurant.

In the mid-sixties, Mick Baynon, an avid golfer, bought the course and devoted his energy to the play. “He wanted to make it better, and he did,” says Ivan. After 11 or 12 years, Bob and Pat Shorter became the owners. Bob was a good golfer, says Ivan, but there was still a lot of potential to be realized in the property. That’s what Ivan saw in 1991.

Part 2 next time.

posted September 11th, 2015
September 11 memorial ceremony and Meaford’s memorial relic

This evening, at 7 p.m., the Meaford and District Fire Department’s hosting a memorial ceremony in honour of the victims and survivors of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and recognizing the efforts and bravery of first responders, such as firefighters, paramedics, police officers and Canada’s armed forces.

Three years ago today, the municipality’s fire department, which is primarily made up of volunteer firefighters, unveiled a memorial at the Stewart Street Fire Station which includes a section of steel beam from the World Trade Center. The Department applied to The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to receive and display the beam, under a program which distributed relics for memorial displays, and members of the Department raised money to build the memorial. The one-tonne piece of steel arrived in Meaford nearly a year before the official unveiling and was presented, draped in an American flag imprinted with the names of those who died, to the Department and Meaford.

Meaford Fire Department with memorial beam. (Photo by MalahatTwo7)

Meaford Fire Department with memorial beam. (Photo by MalahatTwo7)

Meaford is one of only a few (13 according to this list) communities in Canada to have been selected to receive a memorial artifact from the Port Authority, and one of only dozens outside the U.S.

“Acquiring World Trade Center steel can take several years,” explained The Atlantic in a post this morning. “Those who seek artifacts for private ownership—like the person who asked for steel for a class ring—are rejected. All applicants must agree to publicly display the steel, and Port Authority officials work with applicants to determine the best size and shape to fit their proposed designs.”

The program has less than 30 pieces of steel remaining, with more than twice as many organizations applying for a memorial, and will close once those, and some non-steel artifacts, are distributed.