Home » Day Trip to Meaford! Beautiful Joe Park & Memorial Park Dog Beach

Day Trip to Meaford! Beautiful Joe Park & Memorial Park Dog Beach

Day Trip to Meaford!  Beautiful Joe Park & Memorial Park Dog Beach

Have you visited Meaford? It is a great little town that has more going for dogs than most towns, especially since one of most “dog welcomed” places to visit is the Beautiful Joe Park.

We visited:

Meaford, Ontario

Meaford is a municipality in Grey County, Ontario and is located on Nottawasaga Bay in southern Ontario. The municipality’s seal and motto reflect its heritage as a place of apple orchards but now is mainly a tourism lakeside small town with friendly residents.

Named in 1845, Meaford was like any other small community in Ontario but became a Town in 1874 and 2001 it became the Municipality of Meaford. The 2021 census sited the population of Meaford at approximately, 11,500 people, still today a small town.

Photo’s courtesy of Sharon Mansion, Beautiful Joe Heritage Society

Driving though Meaford, you quickly get the sense of a friendly small town that loves their homes. We were very excited to make our way to meet Sharon Mansion, the Vice Chair of the Beautiful Joe Heritage Society who was kind enough to give us a tour of the grounds.

Beautiful Joe

Beautiful Joe Statue at the Beautiful Joe Park
Beautiful Joe Statue at the Beautiful Joe Park

Beautiful Joe was a real, living animal with a very real, and sad story. While perusing through the internet and information about Beautiful Joe, the focus seems to be on the author, Margaret Marshall Saunders, which is amazing that she made him famous, but I want to know more about the dog, Joe. We learned the most about Beautiful Joe when Sharon spoke about the dog while she gave her tour.

Joe belonged to a farmer, not a nice farmer if you will. This farmer had anger issues and it saddens me to say he took it out on the dog. To the point that the dog no longer had ears or a tail. Legend has it, that this farmer had leased land from a family not far away and this family, the Moore family, wasn’t amiss to the cruelty this dog was going through and they rescued Joe and took him to their home. There they nursed the dog back to health and gave him the life he should have had in the first place. The Town was Meaford and this wonderful family had a home and a large piece of property where Joe could roam. And where was Beautiful Joe’s backyard? well….it is the exact same location as where Beautiful Joe Park stands now. The house that the family lived in is still there, albeit, not part of the property these days, but all the same you can look over as you hear the story and picture what it looked like back then.

The book was published in 1893 so this wasn’t something that happened just recently. This is an old story and a very famous story. Now I have not read the book (maybe some day!) I instead very much enjoyed listening to the story in the sanctuary instead of a commercially published book. The book itself quickly became a bestseller and is said to be the first Canadian book to sell over a million copies so I imagine it is an excellent book.

Beautiful Joe – The Book

This story captured another person’s attention. It was Margaret Marshall Saunders. The story is that Ms. Saunder’s was a smart little girl that had a flare for writing. Her parents recognized this and did their best to ensure that her gift was nurtured so the rest of us could share it with her through her stories.

Now at some point, Ms. Saunder’s had decided to take a trip from Nova Scotia and meet her brother’s soon to be in-laws before the wedding. She took a train to…you guessed it!…Meaford to meet the Moore family. She quickly learned the story about their dog, Joe.

As it happened, when Ms. Saunders returned home to Nova Scotia, she heard of a literacy competition by the American Humane Education Society and what a better story than to tell than Joe’s story in her
words. And, she won! The book was published and as I mentioned earlier, it was the first Canadian book in history to sell over a million copies, and by the late 1930s had sold over 7 million copies worldwide and Joe, who then became Beautiful Joe became legendary.

Beautiful Joe Park

Beautiful Joe Park

This wonderful park is kept by the Beautiful Joe Heritage Society. Sharon Mansion was our guide for the day. Here is her introduction to her, as well as the park. I couldn’t have written a better introduction myself.

The park is 8.5 acres of beautiful forest and monuments. The first monument we went to was Beautiful Joe himself. The statue is surrounded by a beautiful garden and if you pet his head you are guaranteed good luck. Naturally, we did that. As Sharon was telling us about Joe, Maze, who is normally very reserved, visited Sharon and jumped up and licked Joe’s nose. We all just sat there in awe, so I missed the picture but I did catch her saying “hi” to Joe. Both Nyx and Maze wanted to visit Joe again before we left and they both jumped up on their own.

Interestingly, Karen and Nala visited the park in April and Nala did the same thing. You wonder what they sense?

Nala saying "Hi" to Beautifu Joe
Nala saying “Hi” to Beautiful Joe

From there we visited the dedication to the author who made the story famous, Margaret Marshall Saunders, who by the way, wrote it under the name Marshall Saunders due to the fact that she was a single female in the late 1800’s.

The next monument was the tribute to the 9/11 K9’s. This monument was heart warming and so sincere. The monument is to honor all K9’s who assisted during the recovery of the Twin Towers but especially Sirius, who was the K9 partner of Officer David Lim at the World Trade Center. Unfortunately, Sirius didn’t escape the event but Officer David Lim did. Sirius is honored in this spot with a beautiful plaque.

Another Honoree is K9 Bretagne. Bretagne was the last surviving canine rescuer at Ground Zero. Bretagne’s plaque is there as well.

There are lovely paths throughout the park that you can walk through and enjoy the tranquility. I am sure if you listened to Sharon’s introduction to the park you didn’t miss the mass amount of birds that were chatting with her. There is poop bags for your use and a large bowl of water by the pavilion. If the bowl is empty, kindly fill it up with the tap at the pavilion.

Beautiful Joe Park

We have not talked about everything you can see at the park as we want to you go and visit and see them for yourself, but I do want to mention the last dedication monument which is stunning – “In recognition of the dedication and courage demonstrated internationally by Police Canine Units”

The flowers there were in honor of Taz who passed away while on duty. Here is the video of Taz that was posted in his memory on July 5, 2023 – click here.

This park is phenomenal and is all done by volunteers and donations. The people who love the park want all of you to come and see it whenever you can and are trying to make it more accessible for vehicles to visit. They are currently working on raising money for a foot bridge. There is a park across the river that would allow for more parking and easier access for larger vehicles. The have managed to reach 1/3 of the way to their goal. Here is a picture from their Facebook Page that showcases the model of the bridge with the Board of Directors who are trying to make it happen! Please donate if you can! – click here (the donate button is green at the top right of the page).

Board of Directors of the Beautiful Joe Heritage Society
Board of Directors of the Beautiful Joe Heritage Society

Sharon is a wealth of knowledge and passion which she shared with us. She even brought some treasures to show us! A very old copy of the Beautiful Joe book and a tin of dog treats which is actually not old….it is from a company in Wiltshire, UK that makes Ethical Dog Treats (click here for website) who kindly sent the Beautiful Joe Heritage Society the tins. Beautiful Joe is trademarked in North America, so they thought it was interesting to see Beautiful Joe in the UK!

We had a lovely time and the dogs really enjoyed the park as well. Alright, yes, Maze & Nyx may have had an afternoon play in the park too!

We stayed longer and enjoyed our picnic lunch under a massive tree at the picnic table. The dogs laid down on the cozy green grass. Sharon suggested after lunch we enjoy the dog beach in Meaford at the Memorial Park! We had brought our bathing suits so that sounded like an excellent idea!

Memorial Beach

Memorial Park is not just a beach but it is a place to camp, visit, swim and even play mini golf! At the far end of the beautiful beach is a dog beach area.

We had a fantastic time playing in the water!

Karen and Nala visited this beach off season and the pups are allowed on the full beach during October to April so they had a wonderful walk together!

Memorial Park Dog Beach

We had a great time in Meaford and I am sure there was lots more to discover – so when you go, let us know what you found!

Suzanne Diamond
Suzanne Diamond

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  1. August 1, 2023 / 7:12 pm

    Thanks for the great information about visiting Meaford. I really appreciate that you took the time to speak of the volunteers who make this park possible, reminding us to consider the labor of love that goes into bringing us wonderful little gems like this.

    • August 8, 2023 / 6:55 pm

      It really is a gem! I hope you can see it for yourself soon!

  2. August 1, 2023 / 8:13 pm

    How fun! I have puppy fever so bad, can’t wait until I get a pup to travel with!

    • August 8, 2023 / 6:56 pm

      You can live vicariously through us! We are refinishing a trailer to take the dogs on the road!

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