Sunday, June 25, 2017

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historyofmeaford270For decades Meaford has been referred to as the 'Golden Town', but why?

Today Meaford's nickname is quite common. From the Golden Town Outreach to the Golden Town Cruisers and the nearly 50 year-old Goldenaires choir, we've all seen the reference with regularity.

As common as the nickname is today, ask Meaford residents where the name comes from, and you're likely to receive a range of answers from 'good question', to one of a few common theories.

One of those theories common among Meaford residents is that the nickname refers to a golden age in Meaford when business and industry were thriving. While it may be true that the era in which the nickname saw its first use might have been an economically golden period for Meaford, the past success of the little town on Nottawasaga Bay doesn't appear to have been the origin of the nickname.

Some have suggested that the nickname was developed as part of Meaford's Centennial celebrations in 1974, however the nickname can be found in local newspaper business advertising prior to the 1970s, so it's unlikely that the Centennial was a factor in the development of the nickname, though it could have helped give the name greater recognition in marketing efforts for the event.

Another theory put forward by some in the community is that the nickname made reference to the apple industry, though no records can be found to support this theory either.

A third commonly held theory however seems to bring us closer to the answer, and the nickname seems to have been somewhat of a 'bright' idea.

My husband and I lived in Meaford since 1957 and some time during those years, Mr. Roy Bishop was, I believe, manager of the PUC (Public Utilities Commission). Meaford's street lighting during that period left something to be desired and he was instrumental in improving it,” former Meaford resident Pat Poetker told The Independent. Poetker now lives on Vancouver Island. “When entering Meaford from the top of the 4th line, the town-site below did look very golden!”

That theory appears to hold some water. According to a short paragraph in a local history book entitled The History Of Meaford And St. Vincent Township 1834-1999, written by local history buff Frank Dougherty, the nickname came about after some work was done on the downtown streetlights.

THE GOLDEN TOWN OF MEAFORD  - The slogan, 'golden town', was the idea of Roy Bishop, Superintendent of the Meaford Public Utilities. He had all the light standards on Sykes St. painted a gold colour in 1962,” informs the book – of which there were only ten copies printed, according to Dougherty's son Murray.

Two of the ten copies of the book, which was published in 2003 after the celebration of Meaford's 125th birthday in 1999, can be found at the Meaford Public Library and the Meaford Museum.

So now you know why Meaford is commonly referred to as the 'Golden Town'. And while the golden light standards might be a thing of the past, the name lives on.

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