Thanks to a team effort, the Rotary Pedestrian Bridge in Tara now has a new sign.
 
Above, Hans Hagemeier (left) and Gwen Merriam stand with the sign that now greets pedestrians at the Ann Street bridge entrance.
 
The sign is a streetscape of various buildings in the community of Tara and its original version, which is now in artist Gwen Merriam's garden, was installed downtown in 1997. Merriam, who was on Council at the time, donated her labour to paint the original, while materials were supplied by the municipality. 

"It was just an idea that I had," said Merriam to the initial project. At that time folk art was popular and Merriam had painted a number of signs for property owners in the area. 
 
The original sign highlights Tara's unofficial "Tarry Awhile in Tara" slogan (although that part has been removed from the sign at the bridge, leaving just "Tara") and features businesses such as the former Merriam's Hardware (now Mill's Hardware), the former Chambers Grocery Store, the former Tindale's, the post office and the bank. Also depicted is the former Clerk's office and a church that has elements from both the United and Presbyterian churches. Two houses are also featured including the one locals refer to as "the old Shannon house," on the corner of Yonge Street South and Mill Street, and the Main Street home of Tara's former Works Foreman, Hans Hagemeier.
 
The buildings that were selected by Merriam were chosen for aesthetic compatability as well as to give a nod to the community's history. 
 
The sign that is now downtown is the third incarnation. Over the years, as former signs have begun to show wear and tear, they have been replaced with new ones. Not only was Hagemeier involved in the initial installation in 1997, he was also instrumental in installing the sign that now greets pedestrians at the bridge's Ann Street entrance.
 
 
When Merriam began to facilitate the latest incarnation earlier this year, she approached Tara Rotary about putting the one that was being replaced at the Rotary bridge. 
 
"The sign is a great addition to the gardens developed by the Tara Horticultural Society," said Tara Rotary's Ben Rier. "It enhances and adds local character and colour to our bridge project," he said adding that the goal of the bridge project was to encourage people to get out and enjoy the community. 
 
"[The sign] certainly helps to make it a more pleasant experience," said Rier.
 
The Rotary Pedestrian Bridge was installed in May, 2020 and the project, a $150,000 endeavour, has received support of corporate and business partners as well as local organizations and community residents. Currently approximately two thirds of the $150,000 has been raised. 
 
To donate to the Rotary Pedestrian Bridge project, visit forms.arran-elderslie.ca/Donation-to-Tara-Pedestrian-Bridge
 
The sign features, from left, the former Merriam's Hardware (now Mill's Hardware), the home of former Tara Foreman Hans Hagemeier, the former Clerk's office, the former Chambers Grocery Store, the post office, the bank, what locals refer to as "the old Shannon house," Tindale's, and a church with nods to both the Presbyterian and United churches
 
The sign that now sits downtown Tara is the third incarnation of Merriam's original design, painted in 1997.