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 December 20th, 2014
Holiday reading from local writers

The Remnants by WP OsbornThe perfect contrast to the hustle and bustle of Christmas is the opportunity to nestle down by the fire with a good book (on paper or on your tablet). Here are three recent releases from local authors for your holiday reading list.

Meaford’s Paul Osborn’s debut novel, the Remnants, tells the tale of two lovers and their tumultuous experiences during the Great War and beyond, in a story that spans four continents and a dramatic emotional landscape.

Danny Pulbrook is a handsome and rebellious young man. Born the bastard son of a minor royal and orphaned at birth he is determined to find a new life far beyond his “pre-ordained oblivion”. His only way out – a forced enlistment into the army brings him to an inevitable confrontation with his own demons in the cauldron of the first world war.

Rose Quayle is a beautiful and confident hazel-eyed housemaid who, like her mother and her mother’s mother is employed in service at Meaford House – an expansive vice-regal estate near Tunbridge Wells. Like Danny she longs for a life beyond the tyranny of the rigid class system that defines her humble destiny.

The Remnants is currently available as an e-book through Amazon.com, Apple’s iBookstore, BN.com, Google Play and KOBO. A portion of the proceeds of ‘The Remnants’ will be donated to True Patriot Love Foundation– a charity in support of Canadian Military Families. A print edition of the book is planned for release sometime in the new year.

Another Manitoulin Island murder mystery from the pen of Meaford’s Jake Doherty has hit the shelves. Bearwalker Alibi, which noted mystery writer Barbara Fradkin calls “powerful and intelligent”, begins with the death on Manitoulin Island of a young German man sought by Interpol.

The only witness is Dr. Mary Fraser, Canada’s ranking expert on native symbols and an Ojibwa herself. She bloodied her hands when she failed to stop the murder. Drawn back to Manitoulin to recover her childhood identity, she ends up in a forensic psych hospital, unable to recall who’s responsible.

A first volume of poetry from Owen Sound writer Richard-Yves Sitoski draws its inspiration from brownfield sites – contaminated former industrial lots that are often too costly to remediate and so remain undeveloped. Sitoski sets out to explore why it is that Owen Sound evolved the way it did: “Why did some of his town’s most vital and celebrated industries wither and die, leaving vast, unsightly scars on the landscape?” His investigations led him back to the mythical past and pointed to an unsettled future.

Brownfields is published by Owen Sound’s Ginger Press.


posted August 30th, 2014
More local reads and chats with the authors

The Meaford Independent editor Stephen Vance just keeps on reading local authors and talking to them about their work. This week, he profiled two more local reads.

Backroad Crafts by Kate Civiero and Becky Comber

Backroad Crafts by Kate Civiero and Becky ComberThe book won’t be officially launched until September 7, but Stephen gives you a sneak preview of this armchair guide showcasing the work and techniques of 30 Grey/Bruce craftspeople. A perfect guidebook to take with you as you ramble the beautiful backroads around Meaford and nearby areas. Here’s Stephen’s article.

The Bognor Chronicles by Ray Johnson

The Bognor Chronicles by Ray JohnsonWhen he was 44, Ray Johnson began setting down his reminiscences of growing up in Bognor, near Meaford. Thirty-one years later, he is publishing those stories, along with his photos dating back to those he took with his first boyhood camera. For a trip back to those bygone days, pick up this book. Read the interview here.


posted August 23rd, 2014
Local Meaford reads for young and old

While the long days of summer may be shortening, you can still enjoy a summer read. Stephen Vance, editor of our local online newspaper, The Meaford Independent, has been hard at work reading (and interviewing) local authors this summer. Here are a couple of the books and writer’s he’s profiled recently.

Surviving Well is the Best Revenge, by Patric Ryan

Surviving Well is the Best Revenge by Patric RyanThe Owen Sound author has penned a tale that will “transport you to 1950’s Cuba to heat things up,” writes Stephen. “If the dust-jacket blurb doesn’t hook you, a page or two of the first chapter certainly will, and once immersed, each of the 340 pages that follow will nearly turn themselves.” Stephen interviews the prolific Patric Ryan and discovers more about his tale of an expat in pre-revolutionary Cuba here.

My Strong Sturdy Scarecrows and other books, by Linda Hamill, illustrated by Karen Bannister Rosie

My Strong Sturdy Scarecrows by Linda HamillThe former English Teacher at Georgian Bay Secondary School in Meaford has turned her love for writing and for our community into a trio of children’s books (so far) dramatizing the adventures of Meaford kids. She works with Karen Bannister Rosie, an artist, landscape architect and award-winning gardener who lives in Ballinafad, Ontario. And you can find her at the Meaford Farmer’s Market every Friday. Stephen’s writeup. And here’s a story from the Scarecrow website.

More next week.


posted April 11th, 2014
The Search For The Girl With The Blue Eyes – a Meaford tale

When the middle-aged man walked into the Meaford Express office on that day in 1963, his request struck even experienced newshands Walter and Phyllis Brebner as out of the ordinary. He’d recently accidentally hypnotised his 14-year-old daughter, Joanne, explained Ken McIver, who’d travelled to Meaford from Orillia. While under, he said, she’d uncovered various past lives, including that of Susan Ganier, a farm-wife in Sydenham and St. Vincent Townships during the mid to late1800s. He wanted to know if the Express could help him find evidence of the woman’s existence.

The paper ran a letter from him seeking anyone who might have known of Ganier, but it wasn’t until three years later that the real research began. Jess Stearn, a 52-year-old American journalist and author, received an assignment to investigate the claim. The self-described skeptic arrived in Orillia in 1966 to begin his exploration into the case, which would result in The Search for the Girl with Blue Eyes: A Venture Into Reincarnation.

The Search for the Girl with the Blue Eyes

It wasn’t easy. Joanne hadn’t described a prior life as Cleopatra or Queen Elizabeth I. Susan Ganier was a simple farm girl who’d married a young tenant farmer, become a widow at a young age, and lived out her days uneventfully in an isolated region of 19th century Ontario.

Stearns’s research into the pioneer days in the Meaford area included visits to Meaford and talks with locals, such as Wilfred Barr, Major Spike Malone, Joe Walker, Vina Ufland, Milford Johnston, Duncan Lourie, Arthur Eagles, and the Brebners.

Eagles, in particular, said he remembered the Ganiers, and pointed out sites described by Joanne on an old map of St. Vincent.

The book, which was published in 1968, leaves dangling the question of whether Joanne was reincarnated (though suggests that if the story was a hoax, why would the McIvers have chosen such an obscure past life?) but remains a fascinating read for people who are interested in things beyond our ken – particularly those living or loving the Meaford area!

(A side note: The inimitably tart Nora Ephron mentioned the book in a 1968 article for the New York Times, calling it a “second-rate Bridey Murphy adventure about an uninteresting small-town Canadian girl who turned out under hypnosis to be the reincarnation of another uninteresting small-town Canadian girl.”)


posted April 5th, 2014
Books about the Bay – Georgian Bay tales

Our post last week about Hilary Scharper’s Perdita, a Georgian Bay gothic, reminded us of more literature of the lake.

The Orenda

By Joseph Boyden

Joseph Boyden’s most recent novel takes place in the period leading up to the Iroquois attacks on the Huron and French in 1649, and the Huron’s subsequent exile to Christian Island and, eventually, beyond. The winner of this year’s Canada Reads, The Orenda has been called “much more than a timely novel. It is a timeless one; born a classic,” by the National Post

Books of the Bay

Into the Blue

Family secrets and the search for a Great Lakes shipwreck
By Andrea Curtis

“It is difficult for anyone who hasn’t seen Georgian Bay in full flight to fully comprehend its fury, ” writes Andrea Curtis in this novelistic memoir. “It is a lake, but it can act with the power of an ocean.” On November 22, 1906, the 107-foot steamer J.H, Jones, loaded with cargo and passengers from Owen Sound bound for Lion’s Head, passed the Cape Croker lighthouse. She disappeared soon after, lost with all 26 souls aboard. Toronto writer Andrea Curtis is the great granddaughter of Jim Crawford, captain of the Jones. Her fascinating memoir blends an exploration of her family history with a stirring recreation of the life of Captain Crawford and the final hours of the fated voyage.

The Lighthouse Keeper: A Beckoning Death

By Luisa Buehler

Book Five in the Grace Marsden series by Luisa Buehler (A Love Is Murder Award Recipient for “Best Traditional/Cozy Amateur Sleuth”), this mystery takes place on Christian Island in the off-season. Grace and nine other people find themselves trapped on the island and the prime suspects in the mysterious death of an island elder. An ancient tragedy, island ghost sightings, and modern day treachery twist lives until more deaths and more danger make Grace unsure of whom she can trust. When the spirit of the lighthouse keeper beckons to her. Is it to warn her or harm her?

Ghosts of the Bay

A guide to the history of Georgian Bay
By Russell Floren, Andrea Gutsche, Heather Sangster

This book and its companion DVD documentary circumnavigate the Bay, delving beneath the waves in search of long lost ships, and darting into bays where the bones of abandoned boom towns and villages fade slowly into the forest.

The Frances Smith: Palace Steamer of the Upper Great Lakes, 1867-1896

By Scott Cameron

Scott Cameron was principal of Georgian Bay Secondary School in Meaford until he retired to explore Georgian Bay’s fascinating marine history. His first book brings to life the tale of this Owen Sound-built steamer – the largest vessel on the Bay at the time. It has been praised as “a narrative of the steamboat days in the nineteenth century, one which encompasses storm and shipwreck, violence and death, family antagonisms and business calamities and national events… a classic of Great Lakes writing.”

Georgian Bay – The Sixth Great Lake

By James Barry

Originally published in 1968, this enduring classic explores centuries of Georgian Bay history and its people.

Stay tuned for a famous Meaford mystery.


posted March 29th, 2014
Author of Georgian Bay gothic at Koffee House Reads in Meaford

In Perdita, the debut novel by Hilary Scharper, a mysterious woman claims to have grown up as the daughter of the lighthouse keeper at Cape Prius, on the Bruce Peninsula, more than 100 years ago. A contemporary writer seeks to uncover her true past, which means reading the diaries she claims are hers – rich accounts the Globe and Mail says contribute to “a finely wrought historical novel”.

Perdita by Hilary ScharperCape Prius is a less-than-thinly-disguised Cabot Head (see the map on the frontispiece), near Tobermory, where one of the finest examples of Bruce heritage lighthouses welcomes visitors. As part of Cabot Head’s heritage maintenance program, volunteers book stays as Assistant Lighthouse Keepers; a chance to experience days and nights in a genuine Georgian Bay lighthouse in return for a modest fee and a few light duties. For years, the program has helped attract volunteers and raise funds for the lighthouse. And now it has contributed to Canadian literature.

For years, Scharper has spent time as Assistant Lighthouse Keeper at Cabot Head, and the experience helped inspire Perdita.

She’ll be in Meaford to discuss the novel and how she approaches her work, during the Meaford Public Library’s Koffee House Reads. Meet the author on Thursday, April 17 at 2 p.m. in the Terrace Room at Meaford Hall. Tickets are $10, and include refreshments. Pick up yours at the Library, call 519.538.1060, ext. 1123, or email lori@meafordlibrary.on.ca.


posted April 27th, 2013
Meaford seniors club to publish book

Meaford’s 55+ Friendship Club will be publishing a book about the club’s beginnings, and creating a new logo to help them with their promotion and fundraising, thanks to a $4,700 grant from the federal New Horizons for Seniors program.

The 55+ Friendship Club is a popular Meaford social group, which devotes volunteer time to the community and raises funds for the Alzheimer’s Association, tags for cancer research, and cares for various town gardens by planting and watering.

The club, which began in 1995, is open to men and women, retired or not, who are 55 years old and older, and boasts a mix of newcomers to the Meaford area as well as those who have lived here all their lives.

Gardening

Meetings provide a chance to talk to others with similar interests; hear speakers on topics of current or special interest; play games; enjoy craft days with member displays; participate in “show and tell days”; and gather for parties celebrating Hallowe’en, St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day and Christmas.

The final meeting of the year, before the summer break, usually involves a special outing, such as a picnic, a luncheon trip, or a pot-luck dinner.

If you’re interested in getting involved with the club, head to the Meaford-St. Vincent Community Centre on a Tuesday at 2 p.m., or call Leo Girard, at 519.538.3035 to learn more.


posted September 21st, 2012
Beautiful Joe’s Autumn Adventure great family fun

Meaford, snug at the mouth of the Bighead River on Georgian Bay, lies in a valley surrounded by rolling hills and the heights of the Niagara Escarpment. You don’t need to go very far to find yourself forests, fields and wooded trails. A two-minute stroll from downtown has you at the trailhead of the Trout Hollow Trail, and another couple of minutes down the trail, you’d think you’re far from town. But you don’t even need to go that far to find a beautiful greenspace. Before taking the trail, turn around and cross the street to the entrance of Beautiful Joe Park.

This emerald jewel cradled on one side by the sweep of the river, nestled in a hollow below the streets of town, is named for the Meaford mutt made famous in the worldwide bestseller that bears his name. Sixty-nine years after Beautiful Joe, by Margaret Marshall Saunders, was published, in 1894, Meaford Mayor Frank Garvey and his wife, Judy, were walking the woods across the Bighead from their Cook Street home, and they came across an old marker near the banks of the river and below the home where the real Joe had been nursed back to health and a long life by the Moore family. They’d found Beautiful Joe’s grave.

Beautiful Joe - The Meaford Edition

Beautiful Joe – The Meaford Edition

The couple worked hard to establish Beautiful Joe Park on the wooded site, and today, the Beautiful Joe Heritage Society (BJHS) continues the work.

Tomorrow, the BJHS welcomes visitors to the sixth annual Beautiful Joe’s Autumn Adventure. It’s an opportunity for people to learn more about the famous book, its author, the park, heroic canines, and more.

The family event features an interactive science tent, a fairy tale scavenger hunt with prizes for all, horse-drawn wagon rides by Ritchie’s Clydesdales, pet portraits by Wendy Webb Photography, and a number of vendors selling pet treats, toys and accessories; gifts and other items; and food for all. There’ll also be a plaque dedication ceremony and a “Blessing of the Animals” by Padre Major Michael Allen.

Padre Major Michael Allen blesses the animals at Beautiful Joe's Autumn Adventure

Padre Major Michael Allen blesses the animals at Beautiful Joe’s Autumn Adventure

Ritchie’s Clydesdales take you on an old fashioned wagon ride at Beautiful Joe's Autumn Adventure

Ritchie’s Clydesdales take you on an old fashioned wagon ride at Beautiful Joe’s Autumn Adventure

Admission’s by donation to the society; just head down to the park tomorrow between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.


posted September 15th, 2012
Literary events to benefit Meaford Public Library

Readers and writers in Meaford can look forward to some literary events over the next month.

Writers have until October 13 to get their entries in to the Third Annual Short Story Contest held by Friends of the Meaford Library. The contest is open to Grey County residents 16 and over, and judges will consider original, unpublished works of up to 2,500 words in their quest for the best.

Cash prizes totalling $800 are on offer, along with bonus prizes, including a $100 gift certificate from Georgian College. And the winning entries will be published in The Meaford Independent.

There’s a registration fee of $20, which goes directly to Meaford Public Library resources and programs. The Friends of the Meaford Library are considering purchasing early literacy stations for the children’s department.

Then, veteran broadcast journalist and Giller-winning author, Linden MacIntyre, will take the stage at Meaford Hall on October 2 as special guest for the library’s annual fundraiser. MacIntyre is well-known as a host of CBC’s The Fifth Estate, and his 2009 novel, The Bishop’s Man (the second in his Cape Breton trilogy) won the Scotiabank Giller Prize that year. His most recent work is Why Men Lie, which takes place two years after the events in the previous novel and completes the trilogy with a poignant portrait of the relationship between a middle-aged professor and an old friend who rekindles her affection.

Host Christopher Thomas will talk to MacIntyre about his writing and his career as an author and a journalist.

Tickets are $23.50, available at Meaford Hall, and the library is selling a limited number of VIP tickets which include front row seats and an autographed copy of Why Men Lie for $50. These VIP tickets are only available at the Library.