Celebrating our community is one of the things we do best. Here is our history and some of our community projects, as well as our "Award of Excellence" - click on any of these topics to jump down the page to its description:
MERA - McDonalds Corners/Elphin Recreation and Arts - is located in the village of McDonald's Corners, in Lanark Highlands in the northern part of Lanark County, Ontario. The building was a one-room schoolhouse for about 100 years, then became a recreation hall and municipal office for the Township of Lavant, Dalhousie & North Sherbrooke. In late 1997, the township was amalgamated with several other municipalities into the new Municipality of Lanark Highlands and the building was no longer needed as an office.
A group of community members felt that the building was a valuable community resource and arranged to take over its management. The MERA Schoolhouse is now a very busy community arts centre hosting a wide variety of activities reflecting the different interests of local residents of all ages. MERA is a registered not-for-profit organization and is the only organization in Lanark Country solely dedicated to community arts.
In a 1991 video of the history of McDonald's Corners, Mary Robinson showed this photo and said it was taken about 1880. She also pointed out the boy who was to become her grandfather, and said that the bearded man standing in the back, third from right, was Mr. Purdon who was a school trustee. This photo, still in its original frame, was donated to the Lanark County Archives.
2011: Anne Chambers, potter
2009: Ellen Good, weaver
To apply for the 2013 Award please download the application guidelines here .
MERA's labyrinth "A Walk in Thyme" was first created with Willow and Thyme. In 2012 it is being rebuilt in stone, to reflect that MERA is now part of the bedrock of the community. You are invited to walk the labyrinth in meditation at any time.
2011 was the summer of the stomp... Ankaret Dean, Rosemary Kotze and many friends stomped wool fleece to form six felted panels to become the sides of a nomadic yurt.
Thank you to all those who stomped at:
- Jean Dunning's garden
- Stewart Park Music Festival
- McDonald's Corners Farmers' Market
- Natural Fibre Festival at Silent Valley Alpaca Farm
- Middleville Fair (see photos)
- Brooke Valley School
More stompings in the spring of 2012 finished the roof panels. Traditionally, the felting for a yurt is finalized behind horses, but Tom improvised...
After completion, the yurt is travelling to fairs and other events to show off MERA's programs.
This colourful mural was painted by 35 MERA members to celebrate the 2004 Nordic Labyrinth Festival at MERA. The colourful mural depicts mythical and historic images from the Nordic countries of Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. It is 12 feet high and 81 feet long and is mounted on the township building across our parking lot. The design was created by Chelsea, Quebec artist Marie-France Nitski. To see a larger version of this image, click on the image itself.
In 2011, MERA began partnering with the Lanark Highlands Youth Centre and the Youth Action Kommittee of Perth & District, thanks in part to funding from the Ontario Arts Council, to provide art instructors and performers for Youth Centre events. In 2012, three professional artists shared their talents at classes with the LHYC 4H club. At YAK, beat box poet Triple A and break dancer Ben Jammin' involved the youth in lively performances.
The organizing committee for Lanark's birthday invited MERA to be involved in the celebrations. The result is a large painted mural - 8 feet high by 66 feet long - depciting images of Lanark from its origins to the present. Designed by artist Marie-France Nitski, it is a spectacular series of images, something for Lanark village to be proud of.
Many people took part in painting the mural - a testament to what community art is all about.
Special thanks to Tom & Gloria Shoebridge and Ankaret Dean for spending countless hours preparing the 4x8' panels, tracing the images onto the panels ready for painting, and for overseeing the project, along with human dynamo Marie-France Nitski.
The mural was unveiled during the anniversary celebrations in Lanark village, August 3rd, 2012. Be sure to take a close look when you are in Lanark - it's one of the first things you'll see on George Street, mounted on the front of one of the old mill buildings beside the river.
Check it out at Centennial Beach on Dalhousie Lake. Mary Vandenhoff and Marilyn Barnett worked with Annie Dalton and Tony Sweeney to create a beautiful public space at the beach. The historical plaques were prepared after the Mississippi River Heritage Festival held August 2009. MERA was invited by Canadian Heritage to create this permanent commemoration of local aboriginal and pioneer women and logging history, and in particular the passing of the Rivers and Streams Act of 1884 which settled the famous 'loggers feud'.
Thank you to Canadian Heritage (Building Communities through Arts and Heritage Program) and the Township of Lanark Highlands, as well as landscaping donations from the Lanark Stewardship Council, Wib Crain, and the Mississippi Conservation Authority.
We acknowledge the financial support of Canadian Heritage. Nous reconnaissons l'appui financier du gouvernement du Canada par l'entremise du ministere du Patrimoine canadien.
photo credit: Alexandra Kaye