View this email in your browser

Dearest members, welcome to MERA's newsletter - the best way to stay up to date with everything happening at McDonalds Corners & Elphin Recreation & Arts. Thank you for subscribing! If you have any feedback for future newsletters, please do not hesitate to send it our way! If you are not yet subscribed to the newsletter, use this form

If you would like to learn more about becoming a MERA member, click here. If you would like to support MERA with a donation, click here
What's The Buzz???
  • Book Launch: Claudia Smith
  • 2022 Memberships
  • LOOK what we made! - Whatch'ya Workin' On?
  • Programs and Events - Speakers Series, Zoom Book Club, Gentle Yoga, Recorder Consort, Dance for the Joy of It
  • Christmas Fair: Thank you!
Local Author Launches Book on Farm Horse History at MERA

On Sunday, December 5th at 2:00 pm, Claudia Smith will be launching her book on the history of farm horses entitled, “Horses of the Country“ at the MERA Schoolhouse. Admission is free.
The book covers the role work horses played in the development of pioneer Lanark County. This is the popular author’s ninth book dealing with the history and lore of the County. The other eight books have mostly sold out. 

“I wanted to do a comprehensive history of the working horse”, the author says. “These heavy and light horses and their owners created the heart of the country and farm families built and sustained our country.” The book is filled with horse history, anecdotes – sad and humourous – folk lore and folk art, and the range of characters that horses possess.

The over 200 photos, in both colour and vintage, bring the past to life, with apt captions and unique drawings of horses garnered from early 20th century newspapers and magazines. And the chapters have titles which demonstrate how horse culture is still in our language today: “Horsing Around”, "From the Horse’s Mouth", “Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth”, and so on.

Horses have always been part of Claudia’s life, starting when, at 5 years of age, she fell in love with the horse that brought the milk wagon to her grandparents. “I used to follow the horse, and when it stopped at another house, I would run up and pet its nose,” she recalls. Since then, she owned a number of riding horses throughout her life, until recently.

Claudia moved to this area in 1980 and while teaching elementary school used her summer holidays to interview farming families to capture old stories of what life was like for the people who came here from Europe to find a better life. Not having complete faith in the reliability of tape recorders, she wrote their replies on all aspects of farming life in long-hand, so that she “would be sure to catch the nuances of their phrasing” and she recalled, ”I wanted to preserve the memories before they were lost.”

Those memories started appearing in a column in The Lanark Era in 1990 and continue to the present. She was encouraged to organize them into topics and in 1996 her first book was published. “When the Sugar Bird Sings” is a detailed history of maple syrup making in Lanark County. Her last book on barns, which sold 600 copies, was one of her favourites. “I have always loved barns. Their past life appeals to me, it is like they breathe the past. I can almost hear the pioneer owners speaking when I visit them,” Claudia says.

For this horse book, Claudia was partially inspired by the stories about Joe Baye, an Indigenous man who lived down her sideroad in the early 1900s. He was a legendary figure from the Floating Bridge area on the 12th Concession, Lanark and he had a fast horse called Lady that he took to races in Arnprior. Her imagination was caught by visions of a swift horse trotting down the road in a buggy or bright red sleigh.
The book is available at Mill Street Books in Almonte, the Book Nook in Perth, Pine Tree Books in Arnprior, and via her website:
2022 MERA Membership Appeal
It is that time of year again, when we must ask all of you who value MERA’s place in the community to sign up for your 2022 MERA membership.
Membership dues have always been a significant portion of MERA’s income and this will be especially so this year. The value you receive is so much more than the cost of being a member. It enables community access to a wide variety of arts and crafts groups, workshops, events and community gatherings including:

  • Concerts
  • Fine Arts
  • Pottery
  • Weaving
  • Quilting
  • Music
  • Yoga
  • Dance
  • Children’s summer art camp
More than that, you are a part of the team at MERA committed to building a better community for all of us.
We all know that COVID-19 has affected the budgets of many organizations, MERA included.  Despite that we are keeping our membership cost unchanged.
Single Membership: $50.00
Family Membership: $75.00
New Family Membership: $50.00
Payments can be made by e-transfer or cheque.
e-Transfer Details           
Recipient name: MERA
Recipient e-mail address:
MERA uses “Auto-deposit” – No security question or answer required
Please supply information regarding purpose of the e-transfer, and the member’s names and contact information in the e-transfer “message box”
Cheques can be mailed to: MERA, 974 Dalhousie Concession 9A, McDonald’s Corners, ON, K0G 1M0
If you are a new member, welcome!  You can sign up by filling in the application form at .
For those of you who are able, we hope you will consider a cash donation to MERA. To keep these programs and events as accessible as possible, fees have been kept modest by design. Your continuing generous support is essential to bridge the gap between program income and operating expenses. We hope that you will consider making an annual tax deductible donation and join our family of supporters. Tax Receipts will be issued for donations of $25 or more.

submitted by Peter Cochrane
LOOK what we made!

Got anything you're working on? Take a picture and share with the community! I would like to make this a regular addition to the newsletter. Feel free to submit any photos of MERA groups, workshops or events to

If you have an idea for a workshop or series to host at MERA, please contact the Program Committee. 

(2021 Award of Excellence Winner Fred Fowler receives certificate of congratulations from Barry Russell in a distanced ceremony. Photo taken by Helen Mogford)

Speakers Series Starts January 20th

The Speakers Series returns this year with a new list of experts in their own fields.  Cozy up at home, the Speakers Series will be held over Zoom on Thursday evenings from 7:00 - 8:30 PM. Join as many as you like! To sign up, please contact Helen Mogford Donations to MERA are appreciated, suggested donation: $10 per talk.

Jan. 20  Francine Desjardins (Cultural Advisor and Aboriginal Awareness Presenter): Connecting to All Our Relations 

Jan. 27  Ross Elliott (Certified Passive House Consultant): Keeping the Heat In

Feb. 3  Jennifer Raby (Art Educator, Batik and Watercolour Artist): Batiks in Africa: discovering my visual voice

Feb. 10  Ankaret Dean (Basketmaker and Founder of Lanark Highlands Basketry Museum) Adventures from around the world: by a lifelong basketmaker

Feb. 17  Kathy Boelsma (Forest School Practitioner and Early Years Arts Educator), Melissa Cornacchia (Honeybee Homestead), Anna Baranyi (Registered Early Childhood Educator): Children, Nature and Relationships: Creating Spaces for Connection

Feb. 26  Chris Anstead: Searching for Postal History: a chance to wave the flag for Elphin's favourite son, duelist John Wilson

Book Club meets on Zoom every month. Meeting is December 28 at 7:00pm. This month, the book is Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard

In her first book, Simard brings us into her world, the intimate world of the trees, in which she brilliantly illuminates the fascinating and vital truths – that trees are not simply the source of timber or pulp, but are a complex, interdependent circle of life; that forests are social, cooperative creatures connected through underground networks by which trees communicate their vitality and vulnerabilities with communal lives not that different from our own.

Simard writes – in inspiring, illuminating, and accessible ways – how trees, living side by side for hundreds of years, have evolved, how they perceive one another, learn and adapt their behaviors, recognize neighbors, and remember the past; how they have agency about the future; elicit warnings and mount defenses, compete and cooperate with one another with sophistication, characteristics ascribed to human intelligence, traits that are the essence of civil societies – and at the center of it all, the Mother Trees: the mysterious, powerful forces that connect and sustain the others that surround them. (from

If you are interested in joining the Book Club, please contact Jean Dunning. 

The Fall 2021 session for Gentle Yoga will begin on Tuesday Nov.2, 2021 at 10 to 11:30 am and run for 8 weeks until Dec. 21, 2021

While planning for the new session, take the time to consider your personal wellness. Yoga is a popular and age old mind-body practice that combines movement, breathing, relaxation and meditation exercises to calm the nervous system and balance the body, mind, and spirit. Yoga has been shown to decrease reports of pain, improve quality of sleep, decrease overall fatigue, and improve depressed moods. Yoga has also been shown to improve lung function, strength of inspiratory and expiratory muscle as well as skeletal strength and endurance. 
In gentle yoga, posture and breath work are emphasized. Supportive props and gravity assist can allow people to relax into postures and maintain them for longer periods to help reduce anxiety, increase energy and support physical and emotional well-being. Positions can be modified to allow full participation for a wide variety of participants. Gentle Yoga can also be a beneficial way for people to ease back into exercise. 
Yoga Instructor: Marj Kennelly is a certified Yoga Instructor who has recently retired as a physiotherapist and moved to the McDonalds Corners region. Marj will not be practicing as a PT for this program but will bring her 30+ years of PT experience and knowledge to help guide a safe, healthy, Yoga practice.

Cost: $50 for 6 sessions for MERA members or 10 dollars/session as drop in or non-MERA member.
Should you have any questions please contact Marj Kennelly at
If sessions need to be cancelled due to inclement weather, Marj will contact registered participants either by Email or phone.

The MERA Recorder Consort is back! Meetings are on Friday mornings at 9:30 am in Dean Hall. The MERA Recorder Consort is an ongoing, flexible group of players in its 6th  year.  We meet for two to 4 of classes a year, playing intermediate level music in 2-4 parts.  We play for our own enjoyment, but sometimes we play for a MERA event or for our own party.

If you already read music and play the recorder or other wind instrument, you might want to play with this group of enthusiastic amateur players, with teacher Helen Mogford to provide guidance and music. Seasonal sessions last 6-10 weeks, with a 75 minute class on Friday mornings. In warm weather, we often play outside. We have the capability to provide this class on ZOOM for those not able to play live with us.

The cost of group recorder lessons varies according to the number in the class, but generally ranges between $80 and $120 for ten weeks, 20% more if you are not a MERA member. Fall of 2021 there is one 8 week session. Members’ cost is $80, or $12 drop in. Non members’ cost is $95 for 8 weeks and $14 for occasional drop in. I expect we will have a winter session and a spring session in 2022. Sometimes, we play more informally in the summer.

To enquire about joining the group or learning the recorder from the beginner level, contact Helen Mogford at 613 278 1991 or

Come enjoy 1.5 hours of free-form dance to a wide range of energizing music: belly-dance to classic rock... world beat to pop ... with some Latin and other flavours thrown in. This is your evening out if you are looking for a way to turn on “delight” (or “da light”) in the darker months of the year. Especially for people who don’t like following the leader, in this gathering we move for the fun of it. We end with twenty minutes of luxurious stretching.

Dance for the Joy of It! continues until December 13th in Dean Hall. 
Contact Christine for more information by phone 613.259.2073 or email

The 2021 Annual Christmas Fair a huge success! Our amazing vendors, volunteers and attendees made this fair truly memorable. Seeing you all in person was a real highlight for me. The raffle table was full of wonderful prizes - if you were one of the lucky winners, congratulations!
Copyright © 2021 MERA, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp