Discover Guelph, Ontario: A Blend of History and Modernity

Guelph, Ontario, a city known as "The Royal City," is a vibrant community located in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. With a population of 143,740 according to the 2021 Canadian Census, Guelph is situated approximately 22 km east of Kitchener and 70 km west of Downtown Toronto. It is the seat of Wellington County, but politically independent of it.

The History of Guelph, Ontario

Before European Settlement

The land that is now Guelph, Ontario was used by First Nations peoples as early as 11,000 years ago. The area was considered a "neutral" zone by surrounding Indigenous communities and was inhabited by the Neutral Nation. The University of Guelph notes that "the area was home to a First Nations community called the Attawandaron who lived in longhouses surrounded by fields of corn". In 1784, the British Crown purchased a tract of land, that included present-day Guelph, from the Mississauga people for approximately £1,180.

Founding of Guelph, Ontario

Guelph was established as a settlement in the 1820s by John Galt, the first superintendent of the Canada Company. Galt, a popular Scottish poet and novelist, designed the town to attract settlers and farmers to the surrounding countryside. His design intended the town to resemble a European city centre, complete with squares, broad main streets, and narrow side streets. This layout is still evident in Guelph today.

The city's name, Guelph, comes from the Bavarian Welf, a reference to the House of Welf. It was chosen to honour King George IV, the reigning British monarch at the time of the city's founding, whose family, the Hanoverians, descended from the Welfs. This is why the city has the nickname "The Royal City."

Guelph, Ontario from 1855 to 1878

Guelph was incorporated as a town in 1855, and its population growth was slow until the Grand Trunk Railway reached it from Toronto in 1856. By 1858, the population was estimated at 4,500, up from 2,000 in 1853. The first city hall, now called the Old City Hall (Guelph), was built in 1856 of Guelph stone.

Guelph, Ontario After 1878

Guelph was incorporated as a city in 1879 with a Special Act of the Ontario legislature. At this time, Guelph became politically separated from Wellington County and was no longer represented on the Wellington County Council. At separation, the population was about 10,000. During the inauguration, Mayor George Howard first used the term "Royal City".

Geography of Guelph, Ontario

Topography and Water Courses

Downtown Guelph is situated above the confluence of the Speed River and the Eramosa River, which have numerous tributaries. The city is built on several drumlins and buried waterways, the most notable being an underground creek flowing below the Albion Hotel. Guelph is the largest Canadian city to rely almost entirely on groundwater for its drinking supply, which is sourced from two main aquifers.

Climate of Guelph, Ontario

Guelph, Ontario falls into the Köppen climate classification Dfb zone (humid continental), with moderately high rainfall and snowfall. It is generally a couple of degrees cooler than lower elevation regions on the Great Lakes shorelines, especially so in winter.

Demographics of Guelph, Ontario

In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Guelph had a population of 143,740 living in 56,480 of its 59,746 total private dwellings. The largest visible minority groups in Guelph were South Asian (7.4%), Black (4.2%), Chinese (3.0%), Filipino (2.7%), Southeast Asian (2.2%), Latin American (1.4%),West Asian (1.4%) and Arab (1.2%).

Infrastructure in Guelph, Ontario

Medical Facilities in Guelph, Ontario

Guelph, Ontario is home to one hospital, Guelph General, which is rated as one of the safest in Canada in terms of the hospital standardized mortality ratio. Other major facilities include Homewood Health Centre, which offers treatment for mental health and addiction issues.

Transportation in Guelph, Ontario

Guelph is well-connected with a robust transportation network. The city is served by Guelph Transit, which operates a number of bus routes throughout the city. Guelph is also served by GO Transit, VIA Rail, and Greyhound Canada, providing easy access to the Greater Toronto Area and other parts of Ontario.

Culture in Guelph, Ontario

Historic Sites in Guelph, Ontario

Guelph, Ontario is rich in history, with several downtown streets lined with Victorian era buildings that are over a century old. The old City Hall on Carden St., built between 1856 and 1857, is a National Historic Site and an example of mid-19th century Renaissance Revival architecture.

Outdoor Attractions in Guelph, Ontario

Guelph, Ontario offers a variety of outdoor attractions, including Guelph Lake, the University of Guelph Arboretum, Riverside Park, York Road Park, Hanlon Creek Park, Royal City Park, and Wellington Street nature sites.

Festivals in Guelph, Ontario

Guelph hosts a number of festivals throughout the year, including the Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival, Guelph Pride and Winter Pride, Guelph and District Multicultural Festival, Hillside Festival, Guelph Jazz Festival, Guelph Ribfest, Guelph Festival of Moving Media, Guelph Film Festival, and Vegfest Guelph.

Arts Facilities in Guelph, Ontario

Guelph, Ontario is home to several arts facilities, including The Art Gallery of Guelph, The Bookshelf Ebar Art Space, Ed Video Media Arts Centre, River Run Centre, and Guelph Youth Music Centre.

Twin Cities of Guelph, Ontario

Guelph, Ontario is twinned with Castelfranco Veneto, Italy; Riese Pio X, Italy; Quetzaltenango, Guatemala; and Cusco, Peru.