Guelph is a city of 132,000 people (2016) in Southwestern Ontario on the banks of the Speed River less than an hour's drive west of Toronto. Guelph is known for its beautiful limestone architecture, vibrant culture and a variety of festivals.
It is nicknamed "the Royal City", as its name comes from the imperial House of Guelph that once ruled Great Britain. It is considered one of the most liveable cities in Canada, with a low crime rates, a clean environment and a relatively high standard of living. The city is home to Sleeman Breweries Ltd.
The city is home to the University of Guelph, established in 1964. The Ontario Agricultural College (OAC), the oldest part of the University of Guelph, began in 1874 as an associate agricultural college of the University of Toronto.
- City of Guelph Tourism Services: ☏ .
Before colonization, the area was home to a First Nations (Indigenous) community called the Attawandaron who lived in longhouses surrounded by fields of corn. The majority of this nation, about 4,000 people, lived in a village near what is now the Badenoch area of Puslinch, near Morriston.
John Galt, the first Superintendent of the Canada Company, was hired to help colonize Upper Canada. He selected Guelph as the headquarters of this British development firm. Galt was a popular Scottish poet and novelist who also designed the town to attract settlers and farmers to the surrounding countryside. His design intended the town to resemble a European city centre, complete with squares, broad main streets and narrow side streets, resulting in a variety of block sizes and shapes which are still in place today. The street plan was laid out in a radial street and grid system that branches out from downtown.
The town was named to honour Britain's royal family, the Hanoverians, who were descended from the Guelfs, the ancestral family of George IV, the reigning British monarch; thus the nickname "the Royal City".
In 1827, the first houses and the first Guelph Farmers' Market were built. The population growth was very slow until the Grand Trunk Railway reached it from Toronto, en route to Sarnia, in 1856; the town was also served soon thereafter by the Great Western Railway branch from Harrisburg.
Guelph was home to a major correctional institution from 1915 until 2001, the Ontario Reformatory, after 1972, Guelph Correctional Centre.
From Highway 401:
- Take exit 295, Highway 6 North, the Hanlon Expressway; for downtown, exit at Wellington St., to Wyndham; for University of Guelph, exit at Stone Road, or College Road to Gordon St.
- Alternately, take exit 299, Brock Rd. (also known as "old Highway 6") north through the village of Aberfoyle, becomes Gordon St at the Guelph city limits. The University of Guelph will be on your right after Stone Rd.; Gordon Street becomes Norfolk St. in downgown Guelph. This route is more direct and more scenic; however, it's slower than taking the Hanlon.
From Highway 6, Hamilton and Niagara, alternatively continue through the village of Morriston; then, either take Highway 401 West to exit 295, or take Brock Rd. north as above.
Two other surface highways run through Guelph — Highway 7, that links Guelph with Kitchener-Waterloo and Stratford in the west and Brampton and the GTA in the east, and Wellington Street/Eramosa Road (formerly Highway 24), which links Guelph with Brantford and Cambridge in the south and Erin and Caledon in the north.
- 1 Guelph Central Station (Guelph Central GO), 79 Carden St (corner of Wyndham St). This is a combined train/bus station used by VIA Rail and GO Transit. The station is in an attractive, railway heritage structure built in 1911.
- GO Transit. GO Transit runs several commuter trains weekdays (excluding holidays) in the morning rush hours to Toronto returning during the evening rush hours. There is also an afternoon train and an evening train running both ways between Toronto and Kitchener on weekdays stopping at Guelph. A GO train trip to Toronto takes about 1 hour 40 minutes, and is cheaper than by VIA Rail. GO trains from Toronto can be crowded; there is no reserved seating. GO fares can be paid by Presto card. GO Transit refers to station as "Guelph Central GO" on both train and bus schedules.
- VIA Rail, toll-free: . Via Rail operates trains through Guelph, between Sarnia and Toronto. At Toronto, you can transfer for access from the rest of the VIA system. There are 2 trains per day in each direction; one train travels between Toronto and London, and another between Toronto and Sarnia via London. Trains to Guelph take about 75 minutes from Toronto, 2 hours from London, and 3 hours from Sarnia. Windsor can be reached by transferring at London.
The following carriers operate from Guelph Central Station:
- GO Transit operates direct buses to/from Bramalea GO station (Brampton), Mount Pleasant GO station (Brampton) and Mississauga Square One. Few GO buses run direct to/from Toronto (route 31); usually one must change GO buses in Brampton or at Square One. On weekdays mid-day (excluding holidays), you can also take a GO train to Mount Pleasant GO station and transfer there to a GO bus to Guelph. Trip times from Toronto take about 2-3 hours depending on route. GO Transit fares can be paid by Presto card.
- GOST connects Guelph to Owen Sound.
From the airport
- The Red Car Service provides front door service from Guelph and surrounding areas to and from Toronto Pearson International Airport, Region of Waterloo International Airport, Hamilton International Airport and Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
While Guelph is starting to experience some urban sprawl, especially in the south of the city, it is still a fairly compact city and traffic is rarely too busy. So, travelling by car is generally a fast option. There is ample parking in the downtown (city-owned lots are on Baker, Macdonell, and Wilson Streets, and there is lots of street parking) that is free on evenings and Sundays and reasonably-priced at other times (the lots charge $1.50 per hour M-F 8AM-6PM, and a flat rate of $2 on Saturday).
Walking or cycling are also reasonable options for destinations within walking or cycling distance.
Guelph Transit operates buses within the city. The hub of the transit network is St. George's Square in Downtown Guelph. Buses on most routes depart from the Square on the hour and 20 and 40 minutes after the hour Monday to Friday from 5:40AM to 6:20PM, and run on a 30-minute service evenings and weekends, departing from the Square at 15 and 45 minutes past the hour. Cash fare is $3; day pass costs $8 (as of 2018).
Guelph has 2 main cab companies:
- Canadian Cab (88 Macdonell Street, ☏ )
- Red Top Taxi (77 Macdonell Street, ☏ )
- 1 Timberframe pedestrian covered bridge (near Wyndham St S & York Rd). Built in 1992 by 400 Timber Framers Guild volunteers. A 120 ft (37 m) pedestrian lattice covered bridge over the Speed River.
- 2 Basilica of Our Lady Immaculate, 28 Norfolk Street. Stands high above the streetscape, overlooking the city. Built of local limestone in Gothic Revival style. Construction began 1877, completed in 1926.
- 3 McCrae House, 108 Water St.. 1–5PM daily (closed Saturdays in December–June). This small limestone cottage, the birthplace of John McCrae, author of "In Flanders Fields", is now a museum that interprets McCrae's life. A National Historic Site.
- 4 Art Gallery of Guelph (MacDonald Stewart Art Centre), 358 Gordon Street. Public art gallery houses an extensive collection of Canadian Art, including Inuit artists, as well as an outdoor sculpture park.
- 5 Guelph Civic Museum, 6 Dublin Street South. Highlights Guelph's history from pre-settlement to present. Also houses the Rogers Yahoo! Hi-Speed Internet Growing Up in Guelph Children's Museum.
- 6 Locomotive 6167, Farqhuar Street (east of Wyndham St S, across the tracks from the railway station). Preserved "Northern"-type locomotive 6167 on static display.
- 7 Petrie Building, 15 Wyndham St N (at Mcdonnell St). Built in 1882, the Petrie Building has an ornamental, stamped-metal façade, and is last remaining example of such metal cladding in Canada. The zinc metal was painted to resemble brownstone. The building has been restored.
- 1 The Bookshelf, 41 Quebec St., ☏ . Downtown rep cinema shows slightly more unusual movies than elsewhere and also has a cafe, restaurant, bar (eBar), and bookstore in the same building.
- 2 University of Guelph Arboretum, Arboretum Rd (350m east of E Ring Rd; bus 1a or 1b). 165 hectares (408 acres) with 8.2 km of trails.
- Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival. Avant-garde choreography performed by high-calibre dancers.
- Guelph and District Multicultural Festival. Celebrate the city's diversity with performances, food, crafts and more.
- Hillside Music Festival. This 3-day, 5-stage event had an eclectic mix of musical genres from folk to hip-hop, blues to reggae, Celtic to Funk in a refreshingly non-commercial environment.
- Guelph Jazz Festival. Innovative jazz and creative improvised music in a community setting.
- College Royal. The largest university open house of its kind in North America.
- 3 River Run Centre, 35 Woolwich Street. Guelph's premiere performing arts centre in the heart of downtown. Features an exciting line-up of professional performances as well as community arts events.
- Guelph Arts Council - Historical Walking Tours. Trace Guelph's history and view its beautiful architecture with five popular, award-winning tours. Tours run on selected Sundays from April to October. Companion booklets of each tour are available at The Bookshelf for $5.
- 4 Victoria Park East Golf Club, 1096 Victoria Road South. One of the region's finest championship-length golf courses.
- 5 The Sleeman Centre, 50 Woolwich Street. Guelph's largest and most modern sports and events arena, featuring seating for 4000, private suites, VIP seating areas, 300-seat full-service sports bar and restaurant.
- 6 Guelph Lake Conservation Area, 7743 Conservation Drive. Camping, hiking, fishing, swimming and sailing are only some of the activities you can take part in at Guelph Lake, part of the Grand River Conservation Authority.
- 1 IF Footwear Boutique, 42 Wyndham Street North. Top designer shoes and boots for every foot in every season. And handbags.
- 2 Creative Edge, 9 Quebec Street, ☏ . Rustic gifts and furniture, many unique pieces by local artists.
- 3 Old Quebec Street Shoppes, 55 Wyndham St N (at St. George's Square). An interior mall with shop façades resembling old two-story buildings lining a narrow "street".
- 4 Wyndham Art Supplies, 125 Wyndham Street. Art supplies, classes for all ages and more.
- 5 Stone Road Mall, 435 Stone Road. Guelph's largest mall, housing over 140 different shops and services and a large food court.
- 6 Guelph Farmers' Market, 2 Gordon Street. Sa 7AM-noon. Open year round. Local meats, vegetables, dairy products, local and organic foods, unique arts and crafts, and a great sense of community all in one place. Over 180 years old.
- 7 Simply Wonderful Toys, 10 Paisley Street, ☏ . In the Royal Plaza. Toys for every age.
- 8 Wild Rose Consignment Clothing, 23a Macdonell St (Down the road from the famous Church of Our Lady), ☏ . Daily. Woman's consignment clothing. Funky to formal casual to career. Readers Choice award winner, Guelph Mercury and Tribune.
Guelph is in the heart of Southwestern Ontario's agricultural country, so many of the local restaurants and pubs emphasize cooking with local foods in season. Guelph's vibrant multicultural community is represented by several local eateries, making Guelph an excellent spot to sample ethnic foods.
- 1 Artisanale French Country Cooking, 214 Woolwich St, ☏ . Upscale local, seasonal, organic fare with a French twist.
- 2 The Cornerstone, 1 Wyndham Street North. Has vegetarian food, beer and coffee.
- 3 The Boathouse Tea Room, 116 Gordon Street. Traditional high tea. Ice cream parlour. Lovely setting next to the Speed River.
The vast majority of Guelph's drinking establishments are in a compact area in the heart of downtown, meaning that it's really easy to switch venues once you get bored.
- 1 The Wooly Pub (Woolwich Arms & Arrow), 176 Woolwich Street, ☏ . Noon–1AM. It's in a beautiful former Victorian house. This pub emphasizes local brews. Cozy atmosphere. Was listed on All About Beer magazine's list of 125 places in the world where you should have a beer before you die.
- 2 The Albion Hotel, 49 Norfolk Street. It's in an 1856 hotel built of limestone, and holds the second-oldest liquor licence in Ontario.
- 3 Frank & Steins, 12 Wyndham St S, ☏ . Pub
- 4 Doogie's & Pablo's (Doogie's), 37 Wyndham St N, ☏ . Night club.
- 5 Manhattans, 951 Gordon St, ☏ . Italian restaurant with cocktails and music.
- 6 Royal Electric (Jimmy Jazz), 52 Macdonell St, ☏ . Bar
- 7 TABU Nightclub, 96 Macdonell St, ☏ . The website covers four night clubs in downtown Guelph — Palace, Trappers Alley, TABU and TapHouse.
- 8 McCabe’s Irish Pub & Grill, 9 Wyndham St N, ☏ .
- 9 The Ebar & Greenroom (The Bookshelf), 37 Quebec St. Restaurant and bar
- 10 Bobby O'Brien's, 90 Macdonnell Street (in downtown), ☏ . Irish pub with wide selection of beer on tap and wonderful kitchen of fantastic eats.
- 11 Stampede Ranch (The Ranch), 226 Woodlawn Rd W. This is Guelph's local bar, and is a must-see. It's an authentic country bar on the north end of town near Guelph's "suburbs". Thursday and Saturday nights are the big nights.
Guelph offers a wealth of places to stay. From familiar large chain hotels to cozy bed and breakfasts you'll be able to find a comfortable place to hang your hat.
Hotels and inns
- 1 Best Western Royal Brock, 716 Gordon Street. Next to the University of Guelph and government offices. Renovated ballroom, meeting rooms, bold new lobby. Guest facilities include Gordon Restaurant, Library Lounge and outdoor swimming pool. Pets welcome.
- 2 Comfort Inn Guelph, 480 Silvercreek Parkway. Free breakfast, free wireless internet, common room with patio and barbecue. Pets welcome.
- 3 Days Inn Guelph, 785 Gordon Street. Free Continental breakfast. Wheelchair accessible rooms available. It's near the University of Guelph.
- 4 Delta Guelph Hotel and Conference Centre, 50 Stone Road West. Across the street from the University of Guelph. Deluxe king and luxury suites available. Licensed restaurant with outdoor patio, wheelchair accessible rooms available, conference facilities with wireless, pets welcome.
- 5 Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, 35 Cowan Place. In the Hanlon Business Park, just off Highway 401. Free high-speed internet, free continental breakfast, 24-hour business centre, lounge, meeting space, pool with waterslide, whirlpool and fitness facilities. Wheelchair accessible rooms available.
- 6 Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton, Guelph, 725 Imperial Road North. In the North end of Guelph near Elora, Fergus, St. Jacobs and Elmira. Attractions packages available for African Lion Safari, Wings of Paradise and more. Romantic getaway packages available as well. Free hot breakfast, 32" flat panel LCD TV in all guest rooms, banquet/meeting space for 150, business centre, fitness centre, indoor heated saltwater swimming pool, Jacuzzi spa, free high-speed Internet.
- 7 Holiday Inn Express - Hotel & Suites, Guelph, 540 Silvercreek Parkway North. Free hot buffet breakfast. Indoor pool, hot tub, fitness and business centre, free high-speed internet access. It's near Elora, Fergus, St. Jacobs/Elmira. Wheelchair accessible rooms available.
- 8 Holiday Inn Guelph, 601 Scottsdale Drive. Full service hotel, with free high-speed internet and business centre. Indoor swimming pool, whirlpool, sauna and fitness facilities available. Executive floor with king beds, microwaves, minifridges and other amenities. Gazebo's restaurant and lounge. Near University of Guelph and Stone Road Mall. Pets welcome.
- 9 The Maples Inn II, 25 Wellington Street West. Fully furnished suites for short or long term needs. Reasonable rates without a lease. All suites have a fully equipped kitchen and 5-piece bathroom. Pets welcome.
- 10 Staybridge Suites Guelph, 11 Corporate Court. In the Hanlon Business Park, just off Highway 401. Extended-stay executive hotel. Fully-equipped kitchens, free hot/cold buffet breakfast, 24-hour business centre, free wired/wireless internet. Movie theatre, free guest laundry, heated indoor pool/fitness, grocery service, golf putting green, barbecue. Wheelchair accessible rooms available. Pets welcome.
- 11 Super 8 Motel Guelph, 281 Woodlawn Road West, ☏ . Complimentary hot and cold breakfast, wireless high-speed internet, room service, fridge and microwave, queen and king size beds. Whirlpool suites available. Wheelchair accessible rooms available. Pets welcome.
- 12 [dead link] Royal Inn & Suites, 106 Carden Street, ☏ . Downtown. Free deluxe continental breakfast. Apartment-style units for long-term rentals. Onsite meeting facilities. Free downtown parking.
Bed and Breakfasts
- 13 Norfolk Guest House, 102 Eramosa Road, ☏ . Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. Six rooms include some with en suite bath. Children welcome. Internet service provide. Parking available. Vegetarian meals available.
- 14 [dead link] At Wakefield House Bed & Breakfast, 11 Graham Street, ☏ . Near the University of Guelph and historic downtown. An affordable alternative to hotel lodging. Beautifully appointed rooms and scrumptious breakfasts.
- 15 London House Bed & Breakfast, 80 London Road West, ☏ , toll-free: . Beautifully renovated heritage home in a historic neighbourhood with views overlooking Exhibition Park. Bountiful breakfast with many wholesome specialties, including handmade breads and house preserves.
- 16 Lyon's Den Bed & Breakfast, 18 University Avenue East, ☏ . Across the street from the University of Guelph, backing onto the Cutten Club Golf Course. Air conditioned, wireless internet, parking, TV.
- Guelph Lake Conservation Area, 7743 Conservation Road, ☏ , toll-free: . 4000-acre park with camping, hiking and other activities. 5-km-long lake is great for fishing, swimming and sailing.
Guelph Lake rents canoes in the summer. There is also canoe and kayak rental at the Speed River, next to the boathouse. The beautiful Elora Gorge is nearby, as is the Rockwood Park. There are spectacular trails through the city, and a free summer series of concerts downtown.
The Jazz Festival takes place the first week of September.
|Routes through Guelph|
|Sarnia ← Kitchener ←||W E||→ Georgetown → Toronto|
|London ← Cambridge ←||W E||→ Milton → Toronto|
|Owen Sound ← Fergus ←||N S||→ Hamilton → Port Dover|
|Sarnia ← Kitchener ←||W E||→ Acton → Markham|
|END ← Kitchener ←||W E||→ Acton → Toronto|