Charity logo

Beautiful Joe Heritage Society


Business No: 885668236RR0001

Celebrating the Animal/Human Bond, and Humane Treatment of Animals through "Beautiful Joe" the first Canadian book to sell a million copies.

Beautiful Joe Heritage Society


Do you know Beautiful Joe?  At Beautiful Joe Heritage Society our vision is to once again make Beautiful Joe the most famous dog in Canada and establish an international heritage site and tourist destination here in picturesque Meaford, Ontario, on the Southern shore of Georgian Bay - Joe's Hometown! We celebrate the accomplishments of author, Margaret Marshall Saunders who wrote Joe's story  - and it spearheaded the kindness to animals' movement way back in 1893!

Beautiful Joe was a real dog from Meaford that was brutally abused by a cruel man, but then, thankfully, he was rescued by a caring local family. Canadian author, Margaret Marshall Saunders met Joe in about 1892 and wrote his tale in the form of a children’s book and submitted it to a literary contest in the United States, sponsored by the American Humane Education Society – and won!  “Beautiful Joe” was Canada’s first novel to sell more than a million copies. It was translated into over a dozen languages and sold over 7,000,000 copies internationally by the mid 1930’s.

But what about Joe today?  Our goal at Beautiful Joe Heritage Society is to continue to share his story of abuse, rescue and especially the importance of humane treatment to all animals. 

Since the Society's beginning in 1994, we have helped resurrect Joe's story by:

- Republishing Beautiful Joe and the sequel, Beautiful Joe's Paradise

- assisting with the creation of a Musical in the early 1990's and later a Play with the help of Grey Bruce Arts Collective who commissioned a professional play which debuted in Stratford. It then was brought home to Meaford in 2014 for a 5 performance run.

- elevating Joe's profile through such events as Beautiful Joe's Old-Fashioned Family Fun Day, Annual Pooch Pool Party, Blessings of the Animals, #Tricks For Joe, the Autumn Adventure, participation in Parades, and other Fundraisers. 

Where’s Joe now?  Beautiful Joe’s final resting place is recognized by an historical plaque located in his very own 8.5 acre park, Beautiful Joe Park, located on Edwin Street in Meaford. This was his backyard - the home where he was nursed back to health and lived with his loving family.  His tranquil park is bounded by the Bighead River and is just moments from downtown.  Since 1994, the Society has been busy in the park.  On entering Beautiful Joe Park you are welcomed by a bronze statue of Beautiful Joe.  A series of pathways meander past many monuments recognizing and celebrating the importance of our Companion and Service animals, Canine Units, even a 9/11 monument recognizing the search & rescue dogs - and to Sirius, a canine officer killed when the south tower of the World Trade Centre fell. At this monument is also a plaque for Bretagne, the last surviving rescue dog from Ground Zero. Paradise Islands house plaques honouring individuals' beloved pets from around the world. The memorial plaques can be purchased through the website  All monuments and Paradise Islands are a direct result of fund-raising by the Society. 

And for the future you ask?  Beautiful Joe Heritage Society has some lofty and expensive long-term goals.  To truly enable Beautiful Joe Park to realistically become a tourist destination for all, we need a pedestrian bridge to cross the river, include a proper parking lot on that side to accommodate buses and full washroom facilities.  The bridge will create safe, level access into the historic park. Once the footbridge is in place, further park development might include an amphitheatre, Laura's lookout and enhanced landscaping and beautification where the bridge connects to the parks on either side.

In closing, we would love you to visit us here in Meaford.  It is such a pretty community on Georgian Bay with a quiet waterfront, surrounded by hills, orchards and farms.  Join in the local culture and events, but especially, please stop by Beautiful Joe Park.... and at the Welcome statue of Joe, be sure and pat his head for 100 dog years of good luck.... a perfect photo op to share with your friends!

All donations are greatly appreciated, and thank you from all of us at Beautiful Joe Heritage Society, a registered charity.


BOX NO. 3304


Visit our website