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The City of Guelph, Ontario, Canada
The History of Guelph


"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.
 

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.

Galt’s 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.

Despite 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)


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