Wellington and Dufferin Counties are largely rural areas in Southwestern Ontario. This guide covers the City of Guelph, which is surrounded by Wellington County, but is not a part of it.
- 1 Elora — well known for its 19th-century limestone architecture and the beautiful Elora Gorge
- 2 Fergus — a good base for exploring the Elora Gorge and Belwood Lake
- 3 Guelph — known for its beautiful limestone architecture, vibrant culture and a variety of festivals
- 4 Orangeville — an administrative and commercial hub for Dufferin County and the surrounding area
Wellington County is predominantly rural in nature. However many of the residents in the southern part of the county commute to urban areas such as Guelph, Kitchener, Waterloo, Brampton, Mississauga, Toronto and Hamilton for employment. The northern part of the county is made up of mainly rural farming communities, except for a few larger towns such as Mount Forest and Arthur. The Grand River and several of its tributaries flow through Wellington County, providing beautiful scenery and recreational opportunities, especially at Guelph, Conestogo, and Belwood Lakes (lakes created by dams for flood control), where camping, fishing, sailing, canoeing, and other activities can be done. Limestone is to be found in much of the county. The early inhabitants of Wellington County (settlement of the county started in 1827) used this material to build many beautiful limestone buildings, especially in Guelph and Fergus, many of which remain today. In 2016, the population of the county was 91,000.
The City of Guelph, with a population of 142,000, sits inside the county.
Dufferin County gets its name from Frederick Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, 1st Marquess of Dufferin and Ava, who was Governor General of Canada between 1872-1878. Dufferin diversified its agricultural economy to include commercial and retail businesses, industries related to residential and commercial construction (building, supplies, aggregates, real estate) and manufacturing. A portion of Dufferin’s economy still depends on agriculture but tourism is becoming more important as the county takes a more positive role in attracting visitors.
The counties are close to Toronto Pearson International Airport, which has flights from all across the country, the United States, Europe, and some from Asia and South. The Region of Waterloo International Airport and Hamilton International Airport are nearby, and have more limited flights.
Via Rail runs regukar trains to Guelph from Toronto and Sarnia, and GO Transit runs rush-hour commuter trains to Guelph from Toronto and Kitchener.
To Guelph, GO Transit runs commuter buses from Brampton.
GO Transit provides bus service to Orangeville from Toronto Monday-Friday, holidays excluded.
To Elora, on Saturdays and holiday Mondays Apr-Oct, Park Bus runs one schoolbus a day from Toronto.
From Highway 401, take exit 295 (Highway 6/Hanlon Parkway). Highway 6 runs through Guelph, Fergus, Arthur, and Mount Forest.
Guelph and Orangeville have municipal bus systems, but otherwise you will need a car or bicycle.
In Wellington County: Wellington County Museum and Archives (in Fergus), Elora Rapids, Elora Gorge Conservation Area, the Fergus Grand Theatre and the Elora Cataract Railway. Popular parks with lakes for day use include Rockwood Conservation Area and Belwood Lake.
The Art Gallery of Guelph houses an extensive collection of Canadian Art, including Inuit art, and an outdoor sculpture park. McCrae House, the birthplace of John McCrae (1872-1918), the Canadian soldier who wrote "In Flanders Fields", is a museum that commemorates McCrae's life.
Guelph is known for its Hillside Festival, 3 days of music in July on 5 stages, featuring a range of styles including hip-hop, funk, Celtic, blues and reggae. The city's jazz festival, in September, presents a innovative band improvised music. The Elora Festival attracts Canadian and international musicians for two weeks of classical music, international music, jazz and folk concerts.
The Elora Gorge attracts sightseers, campers, hikers, kayakers, zipliners and tubers. The limestone cliffs are 22 metres high and the Grand River exits frantically through the Gorge.
Credit Valley Explorer is an excursion train from Orangeville to Brampton through the Credit Valley on special occasions.
Orangeville's Art Walk of Tree Sculptures has 54 tree sculptures on municipal boulevards.
The Scottish Festival and Highland Games in Fergus in August feature Scottish-themed competitions such as the caber toss.
Go camping, canoeing, fishing, hiking, swimming or picnicking in Rockwood Park.