Nestled on the banks of the picturesque Big Head River lies the final resting place of Beautiful Joe, the hero in Margaret Marshall Saunders book of the same name. Beautiful Joe was an ordinary mutt that could have made a wonderful addition to any loving family. This was not to be the case, however, as his master was cruel and often abused him. Then one lucky day a local miller, William Moore saw the pathetic looking, lop eared creature and rescued him the took him to his home in Meaford.
Some years later in 1892, Margaret Marshall Saunders was visiting her brother and sister-in- law (who was William Moore’s daughter) when she heard the story of Beautiful Joe. She was so moved by the story that she decided to write a fictionalized version of it. Her novel Beautiful Joe was published in 1893; by 1900 it had sold 800,000 copies in United States, 40,000 in Canada, and 100,000 in United Kingdom. By 1939 Beautiful Joe had been translated into at least 10 languages and had sold 7,000,000 copies.
In 1963 Beautiful Joe Park was created on 8.5 acres of land along the Big Head River at the junction of Edwin and Berry Streets in Meaford.