About ACO Meaford (Heritage Meaford)
Preserving heritage is about linking the past with the present and, inevitably, the future.
Heritage Meaford was established as a branch of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario in 2000 with the specific objective of preserving the historic Meaford Hall, its neighbouring Fire Hall and the Meaford Museum. The organization secured substantial public funding through Ontario's SuperBuild program to fund the restoration of Meaford Hall and the Meaford Museum. The group also raised more than $100,000 toward those restorations from private donors in the community – a substantial accomplishment in a town the size of Meaford and clearly a vote of confidence. A representative from Heritage Meaford served on the Municipality's Board of Management which oversaw the fundraising and restoration.
Today, ACO Meaford is committed to working with the Municipality, with Council, with local businesses, and with the community to realize Meaford's heritage objectives as they're outlined in the Official Plan, the Community Improvement Plan, and Meaford's Economic Development Strategy.
Our founders came with very little, and their first years were hard, but as they succeeded, so did Meaford. They built more substantial brick houses on their farms. Merchants, professionals and industries arrived to service their agricultural businesses. The town grew and prospered. It's the story of Meaford, but it's also the story of late 19th century Ontario and the building of Canada. The delicate brick work on our two and three story main street is testament to the pride which those merchants felt in designing and building their shops and to the growing prosperity within the community. Meaford Hall, an extraordinary community asset that represents the pride those citizens felt, has housed many of the town's important events, meetings and announcements. The news of war and peace, annual festivals and parades all centred around the Hall.
We're fortunate in Meaford because we can still tell that story. We have a charming small 19th century Ontario town. Historic cities, towns and neighbourhoods attract people, and people in turn animate and invest. Unlike many Ontario towns, which have lost their historic buildings and downtown streetscapes through neglect or careless demolition, our heritage is largely intact.
The value of Meaford as a town –as a collection of buildings which provide the built form centre to a community – lies in its unique historic downtown. Sure, Meaford’s commercial needs could be served by a set of box stores and strip malls on the highway, but that doesn't build pride or community nor an economically diverse foundation for the Municipality.
Meaford is the unique place it is because of the important collection of historic buildings which line its downtown streets.
The agriculturally based businesses of the past will not support our economic future, nor will we attract large scale industry to our town. But, unlike other towns, we do have an important asset upon which to build a future. The economic livelihood of Meaford may well depend upon it retaining, maintaining and building upon this unusual and valuable asset. So, while there is important community and cultural value in retaining our buildings as a kind of “living museum”, perhaps more critical is the role the collection overall can play in securing our future community and economic well being.
ACO Meaford's mandate
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