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History of Guelph

Guelph was founded on St. George’s Day, April 23rd, 1827 with the ceremonial felling of a large maple tree by John Galt.

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”

John Galt, the Company’s Superintendent in Canada and a popular Scottish novelist at the time, chose the location and designed the downtown to resemble a European city centre. Galt’s plan was quite imaginative, based on a series of streets radiating from a focal point at the Speed River, which included squares, broad main streets and narrow side streets, resulting in a variety of block sizes and shapes.

Although the directors of the Canada Company had actually wanted the city to be named Goderich, Galt chose the name Guelph for the new town to honour Britain’s royal family, the Hanoverians, who were descended from the Guelfs, the ancestral family of George IV, the reigning British monarch.

The name Guelph comes from the Italian Guelfo and the Bavarian-Germanic Welf. The family of King George IV was from the House of Hanover, a younger branch of the House of Welf, which was a European dynasty that has included many German and British monarchs from the 11th to 20th century and Emperor Ivan VI of Russia in the 18th century.

The family name had apparently never been used as a place name before and Guelph soon became known as “The Royal City”.

Guelph remained a village 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 limestone, which today gives a visual unity to the older parts of the City.

In 2006, the community of Guelph proclaimed the first Monday in August, John Galt Day – various celebrations take place in the downtown core.

The New Resident Guide is a local partnership between Venture Guelph Publications Ltd., Lawless Creative, and GuelphBugle.ca - Content and editorial services provided by Heather Grummett. For further information or to request copies for distribution, please |Contact Us|

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