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 November 27th, 2015
Retiring in small town Ontario – Meaford proves perfect for this couple

Not too long ago, an aborted trip to Tobermory found Billy and Ann Marie Fairley on the road through Meaford – where they discovered a retirement location that checked off all the boxes on their lists.

After getting off-course on a trip from Alliston and up the Bruce Peninsula in the summer of 2014, the couple arrived in Meaford from the west. They were immediately captured by views of the blue sweep of Georgian Bay and the charm of Meaford’s historical main street. “I thought, this reminds me Pitlochry,” Billy says. Back when he was 16, he’d spent years in the Perthshire, Scotland village, playing drums at the popular Atholl Palace Hotel. “It was my haunt for three years, playing quicksteps and foxtrots.” He chuckles. “Not my type of music, but it was the best time of my life.” Set amidst beautiful rural scenery, Pitlochry is close in size to Meaford and the main street is lined with shops housed in older architecture.

“We came through Meaford, and I said to my wife, ‘You know what, let’s move here. This is gorgeous. The massive water and just the quaintness of the town. She said, ‘Yep!'”

A year later, they’d made the move.

Billy’s sewing and tailoring business could be reasonably easily transferred to a new location, as long as he could build up a new clientele. And while she’d initially planned on commuting, his wife was fortunate in being able to arrange a transfer from the Catholic school in Alliston to one in Collingwood. “It was funny how it all came about,” says Billy. “It was meant to be.”

Box One, checked. They’d found the perfect destination for their retirement years. And they’d settled in before they were even fully retired.

But Meaford proved to have much more in store for Billy “The Kid” Fairley. More next time.

posted October 29th, 2015
Meaford entrepreneurs face the Dragons

Dragons' Den MeafordThe Dragons have ruled. Once again, Meaford’s very own Dragons’ Den has tested and rewarded up-and-coming entrepreneurs. Here are the results of last night’s pitches.

Candice Ruhl Designs, owned by Candice & Michael Ruhl, hopes to open a Meaford shop and gallery to offer Candice’s unique handcrafted sterling silver jewelry. They took the dragon’s share of the bounty, with $3,950 in cash and a total of $17,525 in cash and prizes.

Zach Hannam’s Zaagi Soap Co. came away with $3,950 in cash and prizes to help expand his company’s sales – of natural, handcrafted soaps made from locally grown botanicals – within the community and online.

Brewmaster Mark Lewis was the audience favorite for his plan to establish a downtown Meaford brewery. He took home $800 in cash and a total of cash and prizes of $2,904.

Tanya Snell recently launched, a hub where businesses and consumers meet, and plans to expand its service to Meaford, and Scott Gooch builds custom wood furniture, cabinets and Windsor chairs in his rural Meaford workshop, Bayview Escarpment Fine Furniture & Cabinetry. Both Tanya and Scott took home $900 in prizes.

Thanks to the Meaford Chamber of Commerce for holding the successful event.

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 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.

posted August 26th, 2015
Meaford postcards capture the past

The scenes here capture a slice of Meaford history, circa 1910, some of which has been preserved to this day.

Meaford Town Hall 1910

For a tour of Meaford past, via historical postcards, visit here.

Meaford Sykes Street 1910

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 August 6th, 2015
Meaford Film Festival hosts rare photographs of events surrounding Selma march

The screening of Selma at the Meaford International Film Festival (MIFF) will be enhanced by a rarely seen exhibition of photos taken during this pivotal period in the American civil rights movement. Lynn Ball was freelancing in the darkroom at Canadian Press Toronto in the late winter of 1965 when he heard about the upcoming third march from Selma to Montgomery. Knowing it would an historic event, the aspiring news photographer packed his gear into his car and drove to Alabama, where he took a series of astonishing photos that sat in a drawer for the next 50 years.

Ball says that some of the photos were considered too controversial or racially charged to be published at the time by American, and even Canadaian, news organizations. “AP [Associated Press] sent out the pictures and then immediately sent out a kill order on them,” he told the Kemptville Advance.

These included photographs of white demonstrators in opposition to the march – images which still have the power to shock today.

White protesters in Selma Alabama 1965

News organizations wouldn’t publish photos of white protesters in Selma, Alabama in 1965 – Photo: Lynn Ball

“These pictures [white people waving signs displaying racial slurs] weren’t picked up by anyone,” Ball told the Advance. “No one would touch them.”

Some of Ball’s film was still undeveloped in a drawer until earlier this year. The 50th anniversary of the Selma march prompted Ball to develop and organize a photo essay, which premiered in Merrickville, Ontario in March.

The exhibit, along with a recorded interview with Lynn Ball, is currently being displayed by the Emancipation Festival at the Grey Roots Museum in Owen Sound. MIFF’s special exhibit is thanks to the efforts of Blaine Courtney, Emancipation Festival Chair. MIFF will also feature an additional exhibit from the Festival and Clarksburg’s Sheffield Park Black History Museum about their efforts to preserve and explore the black experience in Grey Bruce.

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