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 March 5th, 2016
Enjoy it while it lasts.

Still snow on the cross country trails. A couple of photos. One from a sunset ski last night, and another from a daylight ski today. Beautiful!

Massie sunset

Massie 2

posted October 15th, 2015
Meaford commits to ensuring a healthy environment

Meaford residents are surrounded by a beautiful natural environment and economy which encompasses the blue waters of Georgian Bay, the green rise of the Niagara Escarpment, and many organic food and drink producers.

Now, Meaford has joined 89 muncipal governments across Canada in declaring to respect, fulfill and promote the right to live in a healthy environment, including:

  • The right to breathe clean air
  • The right to drink clean water
  • The right to consume safe food
  • The right to access nature
  • The right to know about pollutants and contaminants released into the local environment
  • The right to participate in decision-making that will affect the environment.

The declaration was initiated by councillor Jaden Calvert, who brought the aims of the Blue Dot Movement to Council’s attention. Launched by the David Suzuki Foundation, the grassroots movement aims to see the right to a healthy environmental, including the rights to fresh air, clean water, and safe food, enshrined in our Canadian constitution.

As Calvert wrote in the Meaford Independent, “Municipal governments make decisions, such as on transportation, housing density, waste disposal, that affect the quality of the environment. Local governments also have the power to pass bylaws to protect residents from environmental harm. A municipal declaration is a commitment to principles that will protect, fulfill and promote the right to a healthy environment.”

The declaration also states:

3. The Municipality shall apply the precautionary principle: where threats of serious or irreversible damage to human health or the environment exist, the Municipality shall take cost effective measures to prevent the degradation of the environment and protect the health of its citizens.

4. The Municipality shall apply full cost accounting: when evaluating reasonably forseeable costs or proposed actions and alternatives, the Municipality will consider costs to human health and the environment.

5. The Municipality of Meaford shall review the objectives, targets, timelines and actions of the “Sustainable Meaford” plan and related Official Plan policies, and evaluate progress towards fulfilling this declaration.

6. The Municipality of Meaford calls upon the Province of Ontario and Federal Government of Canada to formally and meaningfully recognize that all people have the right to live in a healthy environment and direct Staff to forward this declaration to the Province and Federal Government for consideration with respect to future updates to the Environmental Bill of Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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 August 17th, 2015
Bighead Hops ShinDig harvest festival


Things were hopping in Meaford this past weekend. The third annual Bighead Hops ShinDig welcomed beer lovers, food lovers and music lovers to a family friendly event showcasing 14 craft breweries and cideries, most of them from nearby. From noon to five on Saturday, August 15, visitors sampled unique, sometimes limited edition ales, lagers and ciders, along with freshly made local foods, all to a live soundtrack of local musicians, including folk favourites Moonshiner’s Daughter. And Niagara College’s brewmaster program was on hand to actually begin brewing up a batch of pale ale, using freshly picked hops.

Nicholas Schaut explains the magic of hops at the Bighead Hops ShinDig.

Nicholas Schaut explains the magic of hops at the Bighead Hops ShinDig.

The event, which kicks off hop harvest season, has grown each year, and has attracted attention from even some of the bigger brewers. “This is a craft beer event so we have in fact turned away a few breweries,” Bighead Hops owner Nicholas Schaut told the Owen Sound Sun Times“It is becoming something really that has its own life.”

hop field

posted July 12th, 2015
Meaford mountain biking, part 5

Here it is, the final instalment in our mountain biking discovery tour.

Sawmill Trails, Hepworth (45-minute drive)

These mountain bike trails are maintained and used a lot by members of the Owen Sound Cycling Club. A 9 kilometre network of single- and double-track trails with lots of ups and downs, some nice flowing sections, and tight and twisty corners makes for a well-rounded short ride. The area is largely pine forest, and it’s quite sandy – which means it can get tough in spots when it’s dry, but is great all-weather riding all season long. Access from the parking lot on the NE side of Highway 6, less than 2 kilometres north of Shallow Lake.

Blue Mountain (20-minute drive)

From the Village at Blue, you can choose a couple of mountain-biking options. With a cross-country trail pass, you get a one-time gondola ride to the top, at which point you can access the trail network at the top of the mountain and eventually work your way down. Or if you’d rather avoid all that criss-crossing of rugged terrain at the top and downhill sounds better, opt for a downhill pass, and go up and down as much as you like, tackling the numerous challenging downhill runs. Sound easy? Guess again.

posted July 8th, 2015
Meaford mountain biking, part 4

West Rocks (30-minute drive)

The 222-acre West Rocks Management Area in Owen Sound offers some great trail riding with sections for all levels of rider. You’ll discover an upland hardwood forest blanketed in a variety of fern species. Every so often, the escarpment emerges from the forest affording great views of the surrounding area. And as the riders who created the video below point out on their tour of the trails, “one very interesting (and quite scary feature) is the huge cracks in the rock base of the escarpment. These cracks range from just a few inches to almost two feet wide and can appear bottomless.”

There’s access at points off 7th Avenue West near 8th Street, near the end of 9th Street W, and at the parking lot north of the 5th Concession Georgian Bluffs north of Grey Road 5.

Harrison Park/Inglis (30 minutes)

While you’re in Owen Sound, check out the trails at Harrison Park and Inglis Falls. Areas of the trail system are open to cyclists, but please watch for hikers. Beginning at Harrison Park, ride up along the Sydenham River until you reach scenic Inglis Falls – a perfect spot for a mid-ride snack or picnic. Then it’s time to enjoy the mainly downhill ride back to the Park.

posted June 26th, 2015
Meaford mountain biking guide 3

We’ve tried some challenging rides. Let’s take it down just a little.

Loree Forest (20-minute drive)

If Three Stage is a little extreme for your taste, then here’s a trail that will reward you with a fast, fairly easy trail, and some marvellous views of Georgian Bay. South from Thornbury on County Road 2, turn left at Victoria Corners and head east about 4 km where there’s a small parking area on the right. The trail begins at a double-track road allowance across the road. Follow this north until you find the blue blazes of a Bruce Trail side trail. The trail circles the top of the escarpment, emerging at one point at the top of Georgian Peaks Ski Club and a beautiful view north to Georgian Bay.

Massie Hills (20-minute drive)

We’ve talked about the amazing skiing and snowshoeing at Massie Hills Management area, but the rolling hills and mixed forest make for great mountain biking, too. With 8-9 kilometres of rideable non-technical trail, it’s a great place for the novice mountain biker or for those days you just want to get out without going too far. Access the trails from the west side of Concession Road 6 South (the Massie Road) south Grey 18, about half a kilometre south of Sideroad 6.

posted June 14th, 2015
More Meaford mountain biking opportunities

At Meaford Haven, you’re very close to one of Ontario’s legendary mountain biking trails.

Three Stage (30-minute drive)

Not far beyond Kolapore (heading from Meaford), you’ll find one of Ontario’s premier mountain biking destinations – an intricate network of more than 40 kilometres on, down (up), and below the Niagara Escarpment in Pretty River Valley Provincial Park, with occasional views out to Georgian Bay. With lots of rocky and rooty sections, these trails are best ridden dry and for the most part aren’t for beginners (though the section at the top by Sideroad 6 and the 2nd line offers a short loop that’s a great introduction).

For a taste of the rocks, check out this video at 7:04.

Another video.

While maps have existed at various points in the evolution of the trail system, most are outdated. Take a GPS or ride with someone who’s been there before.

Unless you want to begin your ride with a massive climb, start at the top – there are plenty of trails without having to descend and climb back up. From Meaford, Highway 26 West to Grey Road 2 in Thornbury. South 13 km to Grey Road 19 east. East 5.5 km to the 4th line. South 2 km to Gibralter, and then east almost 3 km to the intersection with the 2nd Line. Park in the small lot or off the side of the road.

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