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!
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. His story was written by Canadian author, Margaret Marshall Saunders in 1893 in the form of a children’s book and was submitted 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 more than 14 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, and 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 tranquil park is bounded by the picturesque Big Head 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 monument to Sirius, a canine officer killed at the 9/11 bombings at the World Trade Centre. At this monument is also a plaque for Bretagne, the last surviving rescue dog from Ground Zero. Paradise Island houses plaques honouring individual’s beloved pets. The memorial plaques can be purchased through the website www.beautifuljoe.org. All monuments and Paradise Island 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 foot-bridge to cross the river, include a proper parking lot on that side to accommodate buses, full washroom facilities, and complete wheelchair and scooter accessibility into our lovely park. Also in future, a museum showcasing: the accomplishments of Margaret Marshall Saunders, the history of “Beautiful Joe” through the years, and the importance of humane treatment of animals and the impact of animals on their human companions. Ideally, this museum would be accommodated by purchasing Joe’s home to which he was rescued. This house is on the edge of Beautiful Joe Park and would be perfect for a museum - and what a heritage site it is!
In closing, we would love you to visit us here in Meaford. It is such a pretty community on Georgian Bay with a lovely waterfront, surrounded by hills, orchards and farms. Join in the local culture and events, but especially, please stop by Beautiful Joe Park.... and don't forget to stop at the Welcoming statue of Joe and pat his head for 100 dog years of good luck.
All donations are greatly appreciated, and thank you from all of us at Beautiful Joe Heritage Society, a registered charity.