The Big Apple, located in the heart of Meaford’s downtown shopping area, has been the subject of much speculation over the past several months.
Council voted on December 9, 2013, to move Welcome Centre services in-house, no longer to be the responsibility of the Chamber of Commerce. Since 1974, the Chamber-owned Big Apple structure has been a highly visible icon in Meaford. Its future became a concern for many in the community when the Chamber announced that it would have to sell the Apple.
The Chamber was inundated with serious inquiries alongside pleas from the community to “save our Apple!”
This week Shirley Keaveney, outgoing president of the Chamber of Commerce, announced that the Chamber Board has decided to leave this local landmark right where it is, re-purposing it to offer support and promotion for all Chamber member businesses and also to prepare the Apple to operate as the “go to” location for business-related inquiries.
“We are very pleased to announce that the Apple has reopened!” said Keaveney. “Please drop by anytime Tuesday thru Saturday between 10 and 4 to say hello to Victoria, our Chamber information specialist, to make a business inquiry or to investigate new business opportunities in our community.”
Since its inception, the Apple has represented the pride of a community coming together to accomplish a goal. In 1974, the Chamber of Commerce, under the leadership of Noel Crawford, Chamber Tourism Manager of the time, recognized the need for a location in downtown Meaford from which Visitor Information services could be readily provided. It was decided that the structure would take the shape of an apple, since at that time 55 percent of all of Ontario’s apples came from orchards in this area.
It required the generosity of several businesses and organizations to make this dream a reality. Money was donated by local businesses, in particular the Globe Mills. Members of the Kinsmen Club volunteered to provide the labour; E. C. King supplied the cement; Ormsby Block provided supplies, and Knights donated the B.C. cedar, which had to be formed into the apple shape. This was accomplished by placing the wood in the pool of the Hill Top Motel overnight after the water temperature had been turned up as high as possible. Amerock donated the fibreglass and Bill Stewart crafted the top leaf in his metal shop. As a community effort, the structure exemplifies the ability of Meaford’s citizens to accomplish a major task by working together. The Apple has always been staffed by either students or volunteers, who from 1974 until 2013 welcomed tourists to Meaford and provided them with local information and answers to their regional queries.
“Now as the new business hub of Meaford the Big Apple will remain a very special part of Meaford’s downtown, reminiscent of both the contributions made over the years by all members of the Chamber of Commerce who highly value the wonderful volunteer spirit which has always been the essence of our community,” said Keaveney.