"The tree fell with a crash
of accumulating thunder, as if ancient Nature were alarmed at the entrance
of social man into her innocent solitudes with his sorrows, his follies,
and his crimes. I do not suppose that the sublimity of the occasion was
unfelt by the others, for I noticed that after the tree fell, there was a
funereal pause, as when the coffin is lowered into the grave; it was,
however, of short duration for the doctor pulled a flask of whiskey from
his bosom, and we drank prosperity to the City of Guelph"
This passage, recorded by John Galt in his Autobiography, describes the
felling of the tree on April 23, 1827 that signalled the beginning of the
City of Guelph.
was founded on St. George’s Day, April 23rd, 1827 with the
ceremonial felling of a large maple tree. Guelph is considered to be
one of the first planned towns in Canada and was chosen as the
headquarters of a British development firm known as the "Canada
Company". The location was picked by the Company’s Superintendent in
Canada, a popular Scottish novelist named John Galt who designed the
town to attract settlers to it and to the surrounding countryside.
plan was quite imaginative, based on a series of streets radiating
from a focal point at the Speed River, and resembles a European city
centre, complete with squares, broad main streets and narrow side
streets, resulting in a variety of block sizes and shapes. Galt
chose the name "Guelph" for the new town because it was one of the
family names of the British royal family, and it had apparently
never been used as a place name before. Hence the current use of the
term "The Royal City" for Guelph.
John Galt’s grandiose plans, Guelph did not grow beyond village size
until the Grand Trunk Railroad reached it from Toronto in 1856.
After this time, many of Guelph’s prominent buildings were erected,
a number of which were designed by high profile Toronto-based
architects, but most of which were the product of a talented group
of local architects, builders and stone carvers who effectively used
Guelph’s locally quarried, warm-hued limestone which today gives a
visual unity to the older parts of the City.
Read about the
History of Guelph
Our thanks to the Mayor, the Corporation
and the Citizens of Guelph for letting us post this book on our site. Guelph: A
People's Heritage (.pdf file 2.2Mb)