Meaford, Ont, incorporated as a municipality in 2001, population 11 100 (2011c) 10 948 (2006c). The Municipality of Meaford was a town (incorporated in 1874) until 2001 when it was amalgamated with St Vincent and Sydenham townships to create the Municipality of Meaford. It is located at the mouth of the Big Head River on Nottawasaga Bay, 28 km east of Owen Sound. The area was first surveyed in 1833, and soon after the first settlers arrived. First known as Stephenson's Landing, after William S. Stephenson, who built the first tavern, in 1858 it was named after Meaford Hall, the residence of Sir John Jervis, a British naval hero.
Meaford's only period of industrial development was at the turn of the 20th century, but it was short-lived. Around 1900 a rail line brought to the harbour encouraged industrial growth; the loss of the harbour's grain elevator to fire in 1913, however, halted further development. Today Meaford is primarily a rural community with some manufacturing. The Militia Training and Support Centre is located 16 km to the northwest. Tourists are attracted to the area for salmon and trout fishing, boating, camping, cycling, the fall apple harvest and winter sports.
In 1892 Margaret Marshall Saunders visited the area and wrote a novel about a dog that was rescued from a cruel owner by a local miller. This story, Beautiful Joe, sold over 7 million copies. The famous dog is buried in Beautiful Joe Park. Meaford is the home town of Sir Lyman Poore Duff, an expert in constitutional law and chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada from 1933 to 1944.