Guelph Ontario offers several attractions for the cultural traveller. Come explore them with me in this mini tourist guide to this historic university town in Southern Ontario.
If you want to get to know Guelph, one of the best places to start is the Guelph Civic Museum. It used to be a convent (home for nuns) but was converted to a local history museum.
The former convent stands next to a gorgeous church, the Church of Our Lady Immaculate, built by the famous architect Joseph Connolly and considered to be his best work. It has towered over the city since 1888 and it still dominates the downtown skyline.
For art lovers, the Art Gallery of Guelph (formerly called the MacDonald Stewart Gallery of Art) is not far away. It has temporary shows only.
The grounds have been made into a sculpture garden, with some amazing pieces of art.
This bear appears to be panhandling for bus fare at the local transit stop. (Times are rough these days, even for bears, I guess.)
Perhaps he's a student on his way to the University of Guelph campus? You don't have to be a student to visit the grounds of the school and explore their famous arboretum (a fancy word for tree museum).
Guelph Ontario has several famous residents, and one of the most popular is John McCrae, a local poet who penned "In Flanders Fields". McCrae was a doctor who wrote poetry in his spare time and had other works published during his brief lifetime, but none gained the fame of this single piece. You'll find it chiselled in a stone book in a memorial garden outside his childhood home, McCrae House, which is now a museum.
The museum features a couple of "period rooms", a temporary exhibit
area, a room devoted to the Second World War, and many memorabilia
associated with the man, including his war medals, his sketchbook (he
was also an amateur artist) and -- my favourite -- many family photos.
I got a real sense of McCrae as a real person and a well-rounded Renaissance Man of many talents. He was also an animal-lover and you learn about his friendships with dogs and horses over the years.
Downtown Guelph has many boutiques.
You could easily while away half a day here poking about in the shops. There's a really cute covered street called the Quebec Street Mall. Inside you'll find eateries, shops and an artisans' gallery. For a mall, it's actually very attractive, meant to resemble a street rather than a typical covered box. The skylight and the design of the fronts of the buildings along with the use of brick makes a big difference.
Guelph has many restaurants and cafes but surely the most scenic has to be the funky Boathouse Tea Room, facing the river.
The food is reasonably priced, and they offer a good selection of herbal teas as well as coffee. Look through the door in the photograph above and you can see how close the river is -- just off the patio of the restaurant. They rent canoes too if you want to work off some of your meal. There's an ice cream parlour attached to the restaurant.
Guelph is a city that invites frequent visits. Like an old friend, she gets better with familiarity.
Other interesting destinations nearby: