Meaford is frequently referred to as 'Golden Town', a nifty nickname that I've been aware of since I moved here in 2005, and though I've often wondered where the name came from, I'd never given it too much thought until recently, when I thought it might be fun to write a story about the origins of the name and how it has been used over the years. I've heard many theories over the years, but I've found that when trying to dig up some hard information that proves any of the theories, that's not so easy.
We see and hear the name all the time. From the Golden Town Outreach, to the Golden Town Residential Community, and of course the Golden Town Cruisers, the name is common enough, but ask people what it means and many simply don't know. There's even a radio controlled airplane club called the Golden Town Flyers. The name is everywhere. One thing I know for certain is that the name has been around a long time. The Goldenaires choir formed way back in 1969, so the nickname was certainly used prior to that.
Like most people, when I have a question I want answered I fire up the Google machine and do a quick search. While plenty of results are produced with page after page making reference to Golden Town something-or-other, even a specific search of 'Meaford + Golden Town + Origins' turns up nothing. Zilch. Zero.
I wish I were the type of person who could simply let it go when I can't find answers to even the most irrelevant questions, because if I were I would have shrugged my shoulders and moved on, but sadly I can't, so I kept searching. I sifted through the few books about Meaford that I could get my hands on, I went through some old newspapers in hopes of perhaps finding a cute story similar to what I've been hoping to write. Still nothing. I posed the question to a number of people who have lived here far longer than I, but I either received a response like “good question” or “I'm not sure, but I was told...”
I've even had the Meaford Museum on the case, and they've put the word out to their volunteers seeking any information they might have or be able to dig up. Given how common the nickname is, it is perhaps surprising that even in the local museum there is no information to be found relating to its origins, but I suppose it shouldn't be. Many mysteries such as this surround us, and because they are trivial in the grand scheme of things, we accept that we can't know everything and move on with life. I am convinced, however, that the answer is out there, and I do hope to find it.
One of the respondents to the request for information from museum volunteers suggested that the nickname might have come about in the years leading up to Meaford's centennial, when much of what was happening in Meaford was quite promising, and it was promoted that way. “The Tank Range was here, factories were still here. Our schools were overflowing with students,” the volunteer said. Apparently there was even a campaign to plant Golden Locust trees all over town in those days. That explanation certainly sounds plausible. It has potential, but it is far from a concrete explanation of the origins of the nickname.
The museum curator tells me that she and the museum volunteers are continuing to search for possible answers and that they are “enjoying the challenge of the hunt”.
So I have stumped Google, I've stumped my friends, and I've stumped the museum and its volunteers. This is one of those times I miss my old pal former Meaford mayor Gord Crapper. This is a question I would definitely have floated by him, and I suspect that even if he didn't know, he would have told me one heck of a story about it anyway. But what about you, the Meaford Independent readers? Can you help put this crazy writer's inquisitive mind to rest?
Where did the nickname come from? When was it first used? Why did Meaford need a nickname?
It might be trivial, but given all of the serious and at times horrifying news we're surrounded by these days, sometimes the trivial is just what the doctor might order to preserve our collective sanity.
The origins of the nickname aside, I would also love to know what the name means to people today, or what they would like it to mean. When you hear Golden Town, what do you think of? Do you think of a more glorious past? Does the name inspire hope in a promising future? Or is it just another name that requires no meaning?
I would love to hear from any of our readers who might have some information that explains the origins of this nickname for our community that we all know so well. Send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org), and if we can come up with some definitive answers, I can finally write the article I have been hoping to write.