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Did you Know… GUELPH

Whether it’s your first time visiting Guelph or a resident ‘Guelphite’, there’s always more to learn about our great city! This list of 52 fun facts can act as a guide to get out and explore Guelph each week this year – and boost your trivia knowledge while you’re at it!

  1. Architect Joseph Connelly was inspired by the design of the Cologne Germany Cathedral for the plans of the Church of Our Lady Immaculate. It took 11 years to build structure with nine stained-glass windows imported from Europe and altar statue of the Virgin Mary was crafted of pure Italian marble. Over 120 years later, now designated as the Basilica of Our Lady, the structure continues to overlook Guelph from its gorgeous hilltop.
  2. First opening its doors in 1973 The Bookshelf is more than just a bookstore! It’s also a café, movie theatre, and entertainment bar!
  3. There are over 15 km of trails at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre that are great for year-round activities! Get out and hike, run, snowshoe or ski the 10 different designated trails.
  4. The 7 ½ foot tall Begging Bear sculpture stands its ground in front of the Art Gallery of Guelph, but also has quite the digital following at @thebeggingbear on Twitter. The bear can often be found decorated or dressed up, making it a must-see for passersby on Gordon Street.
  5. Team Mo(e) or Team Mole? There’s a hill in Guelph that has had a long-running name debate for over half a century. Regardless of what you call it, it’s a great spot for some tobogganing!
  6. Fill your water bottle from the tap! Guelph is one of Canada’s largest cities that relies entirely on groundwater for its drinking water supply. For part of the year, water from the Eramosa River is pumped to an engineered filtration pond where it soaks into the ground. Follow the Eramosa River along one of Guelph’s trails!
  7. College Royal is the largest university open house of its kind in North America. A University of Guelph tradition since 1925, this 12-day free family event attracts over 20,000 visitors each year.
  8. Heritage Hall (previously named the British Methodist Episcopal Church) was built in 1880 and became the centre of Guelph’s black community. Today, the building continues to operate under the Guelph Black Heritage Society
  9. The Market Square on Carden Street is a contemporary interpretation of the original downtown Market Square of the 1800s that would have surrounded city hall. Enjoy the space in every season – skate or splash at the winter rink and summer fountain!
  10. The Covered bridge on the Eramosa River Trail was built in 1992 by 400 volunteers from the Timber Framers Guild, using an 1880s design. This picturesque bridge is great for a walk, bike or perfect photo spot!
  11. The best place to find up and coming talent on the Canadian arts scene is at Kazoo Fest! Whether at its annual spring festival or year-round during Kazoo’s monthly series, you’re sure to find your next favourite artist.
  12. 2019 celebrates the 240th birthday of the City of Guelph’s founder, John Galt. The Guelph Civic Museum is commemorating #Galt240 with a trip to Scotland and a theatrical production here at home.
  13. The Guelph Farmers’ Market was one of the first places planned by John Galt when the city was first developed in 1927. Over 190 years later, the market still runs every Saturday with local produce and artisans.
  14. A must-see at the University of Guelph, “Old Jeremiah” The Cannon has over 300 layers of paint (a number which continues to grow!)
  15. There’s lots of green space to explore! Guelph has 1000 hectares of parks and open space with over 70 km of trails.
  16. The 2Rivers Festival celebrates 2 definitive features of the Guelph landscape – the Eramosa and Speed Rivers. There are plenty of activities and events that run through May and June to learn more about these water lifelines.
  17. On April 23, 1827, John Galt set out into the woods to plot the land for what would become Guelph. He and his accomplices got lost, in the rain, stumbling across a cabin where a Dutch shoemaker was able to redirect them. Finally, with the ceremonial felling of a large maple tree, the foundations for Guelph were set. Today, a plaque commemorating this spot can be found in Downtown Guelph. Can you find where it is?
  18. The bronze Gryphon statue that welcomes you to the University of Guelph was first unveiled in 2014 for the university’s 50th anniversary. Explore the grounds of the university with a self-guided U of G Historic Walking Tour!
  19. 2019 is the inaugural season for Guelph’s new basketball team, the Guelph Nighthawks! As a member of the Canadian Elite Basketball League, the Nighthawks are sure to entertain with exciting games at the Sleeman Centre. Get the full courtside experience with season tickets!
  20. From humble beginnings, the Hillside Festival started in 1984 at the bandstand in Riverside Park with a promise of an “11 hour music celebration for all ages”, and has grown to a staple summer festival held over multiple days on Guelph Lake Island with musicians, spoken word performers, artists and more!
  21. The word “miijidaa” comes from the Ojibway language meaning “let’s eat”. It makes sense, then, that Miijidaa Café + Bistro in Downtown Guelph has become one of the most popular spots to experience one-of-a-kind Canadian meals!
  22. Cats and lattes! Guelph is home to Ontario’s first cat café, My Kitty Café, where you can enjoy a warm drink with a kitten curled up beside you. Over 600 cats have been adopted from the café!
  23. Guelph is home to Canada’s oldest independently owned microbrewery. Wellington Brewery marched on to the beer scene in 1985 and continues today making award-winning well-balanced beers that bring people together. Make sure to ‘try a Welly on’ when you’re in Guelph!
  24. The Mustang Drive-In Guelph brings back the nostalgia of a vintage drive-in with the most popular movies of the summer!
  25. The Albion Hotel holds Canada’s second oldest liquor license, so why not go down and have a drink and enjoy the local arts scene
  26. Baker Street Station was featured on You Gotta Eat Here in 2015 and continues to be one of Guelph’s most popular gastro-pubs with a large beer menu!
  27. Known as Canada’s “most photographed locomotive”, Locomotive 6167 carried over 40,000 passengers between 1960 and 1964 across Canada before finding its home in Guelph where you can still see it by Guelph Central Station!
  28. You can rent a canoe or kayak from Speed River Paddling and have some ice cream – all in one spot! Paddle along the Speed River and upon your return, treat yourself to a sweet treat from The Boathouse (just look for the building with the pink trim!).
  29. In 1905, a there was a contest to name one of Guelph’s new parks. Priest William Carroll won the contest with the name “Riverside Park”. Today, the park is a bustling place of activity with an operational vintage carousel and miniature train as well as a floral clock and the beautiful Speed River Trail.
  30. Though he wrote 28 poems in his lifetime, none would be so popular for John McCrae, as In Flanders Fields. McCrae was born in Guelph and visitors flock from around the world to visit his birth home, the McCrae House, which is now a museum.
  31. From thriving agriculture to flavours from around the world – culinary roots run deep in Guelph. It makes sense then that the University of Guelph is home to one of North America’s largest cookbook collections with over 17,000 publications!
  32. The ruins of the 150 year old Goldie Mill have become home to wildlife in the Goldie Mill Park. The Downtown trail runs alongside the area where the ruins can still be observed.
  33. You can kick back with one of your favourite games at AfterLife video game lounge. You may have gotten rid of your old Nintendo 64 or Playstation 1, but here you can practice those skills again – with a cocktail! Time to level up!
  34. In 2017 The Making-Box launched Guelph’s first storefront comedy theatre and improv training centre.
  35. Spots on Douglas Street used for filming locations of the Canadian TV hit Murdoch Mysteries, most recently in 2017 at St. George’s Anglican Church. Guelph’s architecture lends to the turn of the century atmosphere.
  36. The Petrie Building in Downtown Guelph was built in 1882 with its iconic pestle and mortar top for the pharmacy that occupied the first floor of the building. With full restorations completed in 2018, it is said to be the last remaining machine-stamped metal clad building in Canada by the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario. Today, the main floor is home to Brother’s Brewing Company where you can enjoy a pint and take in the detail of this piece of Guelph’s heritage.
  37. Opening in 1994, the Guelph Grotto was one of the first climbing gyms in Ontario.
  38. With its inaugural year in 2018, The Holy Smokes Music Festival is dedicated to showcasing women-identifying and non-binary performers at the forefront
  39. In 1851 John H. Sleeman opened the Silver Creek Brewery in Guelph. Though the craft was passed down through generations, the family was forced to stop brewing during prohibition. That is until 1988, when John H. Sleeman’s great-great grandson, John W. Sleeman, was able to re-establish the family business as Sleeman Brewing and Malting Company. Schedule a tour of this Guelph brewery during your visit.
  40. Speed River Bicycle offers many pre-planned bike routes throughout Guelph! Why not try a trek from downtown out to the Guelph Lake Conservation area?
  41. The University of Guelph’s Arboretum was modelled after the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. With 400 acres of plant collections, walking trails, gardens, meadows, woodlands and wetlands, it is an immersive experience when visiting Guelph.
  42. You can have a drink and defeat a kingdom all in one evening at The Roundtable. As Guelph’s first board game tavern, The Roundtable offers meals, games and even a Robin Hood themed Escape Room!
  43. Guelph Little Theatre first opened to the public in 1935 with a playbill of ‘Yellow Sands’, ‘The Boor’, ‘Price of Coal’, ‘Checkmate’, and ‘Outward Bound’. The theatre still thrives as a great spot to catch a show!
  44. It’s a one-woman show running Guelph’s splendid Taste Detours. Lynn Broughton offers unique tours in Guelph’s historic downtown through the flavours of some of Guelph’s best food finds.
  45. Starting in 1984, the Guelph Film Festival is one of the oldest documentary festivals in the world.
  46. There’s 100 steps from the Ward to St. George’s Park – believe us, it’s worth the climb.
  47. A footbridge was first installed over the Speed River in 1881. The original was replaced in 1914 with the current Heffernan Street Footbridge. Walk this bridge by St. George’s Anglican Church for a unique view of the Speed River.
  48. The work of the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada has given protection to over 222 equines with a lifelong home, just outside of Guelph. Bring the family for a visit and fall in love with each donkey’s special character.
  49. The Donald Forster Sculpture Park, at the Art Gallery of Guelph, is the largest outdoor sculpture collection at a public gallery in Canada.
  50. Guelph Storm’s mascot name is Spyke! Spyke and the team put on a great home show at the Sleeman Centre during Storm’s OHL games.
  51. In 2018 a new collective for beer lovers hit the Guelph scene. Guelph.Beer is currently made up of Wellington Brewery, Fixed Gear Brewing, Sleeman Brewing, Brothers Brewing, and Royal City Brewing Co. – Take yourself on a beer tour of these establishments or join them on the Guelph.Beer Bus (coming soon)!
  52. Guelph’s own Riot Axe is a proud founding member of the National Axe Throwing Association. As the only axe throwing facility in Guelph with this accreditation, Riot Axe has become a popular spot for parties and gatherings.

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