Meaford Sunset and Beautiful Joe Park

It seems that over the summer, although we’ve had a fair number of adventures out in the great and wonderful outdoors, I haven’t had the opportunity to write and share with you as much as I might like about them.

Much of the reason you haven’t be able to read much for me stems from a large part due to anxiety and general mental-wellness issues that have raised their ugly, yet a real presence since July.

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Nevertheless, taking a “spur of the moment” page from the “spur of the moment” book, we headed out after I finished work last Saturday, to check out the sunset from the harbour in Meaford and as well, to spend a few minutes visiting Beautiful Joe Park.

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From several perspectives, our journey that Saturday night was a breakthrough. First, Beautiful Joe Park is a special place, as you’ll read, that we’ve wanted to go and see for quite a while. Secondly, who doesn’t like or love watching the sunset below the horizon over a large expanse of open water? Finally, given my recent mental-wellness issues, it would have been so much easier NOT to make a decision to head out to Meaford.

However, we made the decision to go …so a win-win-win from all three points.

Beautiful Joe Park

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Beautiful Joe Park, located just off the main street in Meaford is a park to commemorate the life of “Beautiful Joe” and as well all things canine.

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Beautiful Joe was a real dog from the town of Meaford, whose life inspired a bestselling 1893 novel entitled “Beautiful Joe.” The story of “Beautiful Joe” contributed heavily to the worldwide awareness of cruelty to animals.

The real Beautiful Joe was a medium-sized brown mixed dog who was originally owned by a local resident of Meaford who abused the animal with great cruelty, even to the point of death, cutting off his ears and tail.

A gentleman in Meaford by the name of Walter Moore rescued Beautiful Joe in 1890 from what would have been a violent and painful death. In 1892, a woman by the name of Margaret Marshall Saunders first found out about Beautiful Joe when she visited her brother and his wife(Louise) who was the daughter of Walter Moore the man who had rescued Joe.

Ms. Saunders was so touched by the story of Beautiful Joe’s life, she wrote a fictionalized full-length autobiographical novel of the dog’s life, entitling the novel “Beautiful Joe.” It was written from the perspective of Beautiful Joe telling his story, much in the same fashion as the novel Black Beauty.

In 1893, Saunders submitted her finished manuscript to a story writing contest run by the American Humane Society. It won and the next year it was published as a novel. The response to the novel was overwhelming. The novel and its subject matter received worldwide attention and was at that time the first Canadian novel to sell over a million copies. In fact, by the 1930’s it has sold over 7 million copies worldwide.

In 1963, the official Beautiful Joe Park was opened in Meaford, located next to the Moore family house where Beautiful Joe was rehabilitated by Louise Moore. It is Beautiful Joe Park, where Joe’s final resting place is found.

Entrance to the park from the parking area.

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A photograph of Beautiful Joe as part of a poster found at the park entrance.

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Scattered throughout the park are a number of dog-related memorial locations.

9/11 Memorial

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Assistance Dog’s Memorial

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Beloved Pet Memorial Plaques

For those who have lost a beloved poochie, their memory can be included in a pet memorial located in a beautiful wooded section of the park.

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Obligatory “red chair” photo opportunity to capture a picture of yourself or someone else sitting beside “Beautiful Joe.”

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These rocks are scattered throughout the gardens within the park. Many have the names of family pets on them, while many are painted and decorated with “Joe” on them.

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K-9 Police Services Memorial

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“Beautiful Joe’s” Final Resting Place

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If you currently have a beloved pet or are missing one that has left you far too early, Beautiful Joe Park is a place to head to contemplate the life your precious pet has with or had with you. When visiting here, it is not to become emotional. A wonderful place to visit.

Meaford Harbour Sunset

A quick 5-minute drive brought us down to the harbour and waterfront, with hopes of catching a Georgian Bay sunset.

I think we succeeded.

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As the sun finally dipped behind the horizon, we hopped back in our car for the leisurely but in addition knowing that we had spent a wonderful evening out.

Sometimes, regardless of what the circumstances may be or what trials or difficulties we may be facing for going through, often making a simple decision to get outdoors and getting away from the stress and such can be the best medicine possible.

If you’re in the vicinity, be sure to check out “Beautiful Joe Park”, and as well take a side trip down to the waterfront and the harbour. Make the harbour trip in the evening and be sure you stay long enough to capture a Georgian Bay sunset. You won’t be disappointed.

Remember…

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Road Tripping – Owen Sound and Meaford

Although we love to visit communities of all sizes when we’re out on an adventure, we don’t often make the community the adventure so to speak.

What I mean by that is, we might be hiking or adventuring close by and may stop in an adjacent community for a bite to eat or to put a bit of fuel in the car.

The one thing we rarely do but have done from time to time in the past is “urban hiking.”

One definition of urban hiking I happened to stumble across is this, “Urban hiking might  be defined as, an active walk taken in an urban environment that goes through parks, uses stairwells, crosses intersections, and meanders through the city’s obstacles of life.”

In addition, Lynn likes to shoot every so often, pictures that aren’t normally nature or hiking related. To keep the creative and technical things sharp, she likes to shoot areas or subjects she might not normally spend much time photographing.

Such was the confluence of these two elements in the past few days. An urban hike to photograph something different.

Having a purpose in mind, we simply needed a place.

And what better place, than Owen Sound and Meaford for the day. Just a relatively short hop from the “old homestead” and both being just down the road from the other.

This looks like it was going to work.

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Of the many things we adore about Owen Sound, is its architecture in and around the downtown.

Some shots from here.

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An outstanding feature of the many things that make Meaford a great spot, is the waterfront and harbour area.

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The spookiest tree we’ve ever seen. It was across the road from the harbour and waterfront.

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Urban hiking/walking – is it worth it?

Absolutely it is.

If this type of hike is something that you don’t normally undertake, especially if your exploring time is normally spent out on a trail, having an open mind to what you might discover in my opinion is the best first step. Often larger municipalities have urban walking routes with maps that you might be able to get a local tourist information site.

There are plenty of outdoors types who would never be caught hiking through an urban environment, and I get that. As much as being in nature is to “get away from the noise and busyness of built-up areas”, discovering and seeing new and exciting sights is also part of the mix as well.

So, having an open mind to what might fall across your path, I think, sets a good course for the day. Urban hiking has it’s drawbacks and issues as well. Nevertheless, the same approaches one would apply on a wilderness trail can be applied here. Be aware of your surroundings; don’t head into spots if you’re unsure of. You get the idea.

One of the best aspects of this is, you just might be able to head out in your own backyard for an enjoyable day spent exploring the city you live in. We often live in communities, but never get out and explore what is simply around “the corner.”

Thanks for visiting and hope that you can take an opportunity and explore “the nooks and crannies” in our neighbourhood.

Remember…

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

 

 

 

Owen Sound and Grey County – Adjustment in Agenda

If you spend any amount of time adventuring in the great outdoors, you’ll have those outings that all seemingly “worked on paper” a couple of days before, but once out in the “field”, you needed to undertake “an adjustment” or two.

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That’s how Tuesday, January 15 unfolded.

With Lynn’s birthday on January 17th, she wanted to head up to Owen Sound and Meaford for a day of adventure and obviously filled with photography.

Our goal was to hike to the base of Indian Falls, located just north of the City of Owen Sound and shoot pictures from the base of the falls. After that, there was the idea of a short hike along the Bruce Trail through Harrison Park and finally shooting the sunset from the marina in Meaford.

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Heading out the door just before 9:00am with coffee in hand and Katie in the back seat, we settled in for the 2-hour drive through Wasaga Beach, Collingwood and across Highway 26 to Owen Sound.

A quick stop in downtown Collingwood at Gabriele Photography bagged an elusive sized lens cap that Lynn had been searching for and as a bonus at a super price. Far better than any larger chain retailer.

After another stop along First St.(Highway 26) for a quick washroom break, we put the “pedal to the metal“; cranked up our favourite podcast and off across Highway 26 we went.

Like all perfectly laid out outdoor plans, there is always something or someone who loves to lurk in the background and dangles the distinct possibility that they and only they will throw a wrench into the equation.

In this case, it was Mother Nature.

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The forecast for the days proceeding Tuesday forecasted temperatures at around zero degrees Celcius and sunshine. Tuesday morning brought us zero degrees Celcius; no sunshine and a mixture of light snow and drizzle.

Mostly drizzle, however.

Now, sensitive camera equipment and drizzle don’t make the best friends at all. Over time, Lynn has hooked up a “shower cap” like device that covers the camera body and lens barrel, but nonetheless, drizzly dampness to camera equipment is like poking a sleeping bear. Something bad will likely happen.

Undaunted and just simply ignoring the drizzle, we arrived around 11:30 at Indian Falls with the grand intention of hiking as I mentioned to the base of the falls themselves. After getting Katie settled into “The Bag”, we headed off down the trail from the well-sanded parking lot.

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Katie’s view of the adventure

It looks like someone tried to girdle a birch tree or at least strip off a good chunk of the outer layer of bark. Why??

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As we hiked along the start of the Indian River Trail, it became obvious that there was a significant amount of water flowing through the system, which had flooded the low lying trail adjacent to the river.

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Those low lying areas had what we thought was a reasonability thick cover of ice over them, but as Lynn gingerly put a boot toe onto one icy patch to test its thickness, a loud crack echoed through the forest and water started to seep up through the ice.

The idea of trying to navigate up and down the steep slopes along the river in order to avoid the flooded areas, all the while with me carrying Katie in “The Bag” moved us to go with Plan B, which was to take a few photos where we could and move onto the next exciting part of our day. As well, the drizzle has started to increase a bit more than on our way up and as such, we thought it prudent to perhaps stow the camera equipment in a dry sack and hope the rain let up.

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Getting back to the car, we took a drive around Owen Sound and to Harrison Park to get Katie warmed up and to dry a bit ourselves. As part of scooting around the Owen Sound, Lynn casually mentioned, “why not see what’s happening over in the harbour by the Grain Elevators?”

So, off we headed to the harbour. Lucky for us, the “Algoma Harvester” was over-wintering in the harbour as well, providing ample photo opportunities.

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Leaving Owen Sound, we made a leisurely drive along the waterfront on Grey County Rd. 15, ultimately coming to the hamlet of Leith.

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The unassuming hamlet of Leith is the final resting spot of one of Canada’s most iconic and well known historical figures in the small Leith United Church Cemetary.

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dsc_0111_hdr-editTom Thomson, arguably Canada’s most famous artist and certainly the most famous since his death in July 1917, survives in greater prominence in his death when compared to his when he sketched, painted and lived in northern Ontario.

The life and death of Tom Thomson and the stories surrounding both seem to grow with exponential magnitude with each passing decade. Like stories of “the big fish that got away”, the truth surround Tom Thomson’s life and legacy gets “stretched” much like “how big was that fish again?”

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Much has been written about Tom Thomson over the past decades. Some of it is fact; some of it is “pure fiction”; most of it is a bizarre combination of both. In fact, if you put his painting and artwork aside, the stories and tales surrounding Thomson’s life and death has become an industry in itself.

Background on Tom Thomson

Tom was born on August 5, 1877, in Claremont, Ontario, located east of Toronto. He came from a large family, being the sixth of ten children. Although born in Claremont, Tom was raised in Leith, Ontario, located near the Town of Owen Sound on the shores of Georgian Bay.

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From an early age, Thomson didn’t really show or display any immediate artistic talent. He did enroll at the Canada Business College, where he learned as part of the courses “plain and ornamental penmanship.” From that, he developed rudimentary penmanship abilities.

He worked as a pen artist at several different photoengraving firms including Grip Ltd. in Toronto. It was there he met most of the artists who would eventually form after his death, what is known in Canada as the “Group of Seven.”

Tom first visited Algonquin Park in 1012. It was here that he took sketching equipment and on the advice and pushing from J.E.H. MacDonald from the “Group of Seven,” Thomson began to paint and capture the scenes of nature.

Typically, Thomson would spend the spring, summer and fall painting in Algonquin Park and return to Toronto for the winter. Although his earliest paintings were not great technically, it is said they did show an above-average ability in terms of colours and composition.

Over time, it was his later paintings that set up Thomson as having a great, if not the greatest influence on the early development of Canadian art and culture. It was his use of various types of composition, vivid colours and thickly applied paint strokes, that paintings such as “The West Wind,” “Northern Lights” and “The Jack Pine” are regarded as symbols of the culture of Canada and are some of the country’s most iconic treasures of art.

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The West Wind
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The Jack Pine

As well as his painting ability, Thomson earned a reputation throughout his life as an excellent outdoorsman with a good ability handling a canoe. It was the tragic circumstances of Thomson’s drowning on Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park in July 1917, married to his image as an experienced canoeist has resulted in his death entering into the popular imagination and myth.

The circumstances surrounding his death have been of particular interest to many, with unsubstantiated rumours that he was murdered or committed suicide becoming common and persisting in the years since his death.

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After about 20 minutes shooting pictures in the cold, we got back in the car, cranked up the heater and headed back out to the highway heading the 30 minutes or so east towards the Town of Meaford.

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The Town of Meaford with a population close to 11,000, sitting on the shores of Georgian Bay has an outstanding marina and Canadian Coast Guard facility. Having visited in the summer, we thought that the rocky breakwater that protects the harbour and marina might make a superior location to photograph the sun setting over the water.

Unfortunately, with drizzle and no sun to be seen, the idea of photographing the sunset will have to wait to perhaps some date later in the future. Nevertheless, we did manage to capture some great shots from along the shoreline and the marina.

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After getting back in the car one more time, we started the 90-minute trek back home. We detoured slightly passing through the Blue Mountian ski resort to check out things as the lights were being turned on the runs for the night skiing and just because it’s a neat place to be in.

We made one stop at the old grain terminal in Collingwood and captured this shot of Blue Mountain in the distance, just as the lights were being turned on.

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Although the day perhaps didn’t turn out weather-wise as well as we had hoped, it still made for a nice birthday day outing for Lynn. I’ve come to realize and accept that when things don’t seem to go as planned, your adventure can be salvaged and more often than not, end up becoming something even better.

Spending the day with Lynn and Katie, being outside, shooting some photos all the while listening to our favourite Prince Edward Island music show podcast goes in the record books as “a win.”

Why not head on over to Owen Sound or the Meaford area for a day out in the near future. Both communities offer plenty to tempt you for an afternoon or for a full day’s outing. Restaurants, shops, parks, trails and a host of other activities will fill your day with memories to last a lifetime.

Thanks for reading.

 

— get outside; find inspiration; discover yourself —