Guelph Region

Nestled in a rich agricultural region, the city of Guelph is filled with lush greenery and gorgeous buildings constructed with local limestone. Known as the Royal City, Guelph was founded in 1827 by Scottish novelist John Galt, but long before that—around 9000 BCE—the ancestors of Indigenous peoples, including the Neutral peoples, settled the region. With its 19th-century charm and excellent beer, Guelph is a fantastic place to spend a couple of days.


Day One


Credit: James M.

 

DAY 1 – 9:00 AM: STEP INTO THE GUELPH ARBORETUM TO BE TRANSPORTED INTO ANOTHER WORLD.

Established in 1970, the Arboretum is full of diverse plant life, with manicured flowerbeds, acres of natural woodlands, a Japanese garden with a stone bridge and reflecting pool, and over nine kilometres of trails. Take your time to walk around and learn about all the different kinds of trees on site. If you’re hungry after all that walking, grab lunch at one of the many spots nearby.

DAY 1

EXPLORE THE GUELPH ARBORETUM – 9:00 AM


Photo Credit: Art Gallery of Guelph

DAY 1

VISIT THE ART GALLERY OF GUELPH AND OUTDOOR SCULPTURE PARK – 1:00 PM

DAY 1 – 1:00 PM: SPEND THE REST OF YOUR AFTERNOON AT THE ART GALLERY OF GUELPH’S SCULPTURE GARDEN

Formerly known as the MacDonald Stewart Art Centre, the Art Gallery of Guelph features an extensive collection of Canadian and international works, including a collection of Inuit drawings from 1960 to the present. The expansive Sculpture Park surrounding the Art Gallery of Guelph is also a must-see. With 39 pieces of sculpture on view, make sure not to miss the Begging Bear, a seven-and-a-half foot bronze emblem of Canadiana by artist Carl Skelton.

DAY 1 – 5:00 PM: DITCH THE CAR AND WALK AROUND GUELPH’S VIBRANT DOWNTOWN CORE

Market Square and City Hall form the nucleus of downtown Guelph, summoning locals and tourists alike, no matter the season. In the summer, kids splash around in the wading pool, and in the colder stretches, you can go ice skating. There are plenty of curved stone benches to rest on before setting off in search of Guelph’s other delights.

Avid readers should take note of the Bookshelf¾ a community hub of sorts, where you can buy books, watch films, eat, and enjoy a cocktail all under one roof.

Downtown Guelph has several architectural gems, including the Petrie building, which is currently home to Brothers Brewing. The metal façade on Wyndham Street has been around since 1882, when local entrepreneur A.B. Petrie operated a pharmacy from its ground floor. The nearby Family Fountain, unveiled in 1985, is dedicated to the immigrants who settled in Guelph. The figures’ nudity, typical of Italian Baroque style, caused quite a stir among the locals; while there were early rumours that the sculpture was cursed, it’s rarely a point of contention anymore.

Tip: Craft beer lovers should try a local brew made from OAC 21, a strand of barley first made at the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph in 1903.

DAY 1

CHECK OUT THE LOCAL SCENE IN DOWNTOWN GUELPH – 5:00 PM



Day Two


DAY 2 – 10:00 AM: BY NOW, YOU’VE PROBABLY NOTICED THE GIANT CHURCH TOWERING OVER THE CITY.

The Basilica of Our Lady Immaculate was built between 1876 and 1888 using local limestone. It features twin towers, pointed arches, and rose windows, all in the Gothic Revival style. The basilica was recently restored and was awarded the 2015 Award of Excellence by the Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals.

Walk right next door to the Guelph Civic Museum to learn more about the city’ history, from its earliest human settlement and up through colonial times. Housed in a renovated Loretto convent, the Museum is another place to check out the region’s distinct limestone architecture.

DAY 2

VISIT THE FAMOUS BASILICA AND THE CIVIC MUSEUM – 10:00 AM


Photo Credit: City of Guelph.

DAY 2

VISIT THE HOME OF JOHN MCCRAE – 1:00 PM

McCrae-House
The famous poem made material. Credit: Lx 121.

DAY 2 – 1:00 PM: YOUR LAST STOP OF THE DAY IS MCCRAE HOUSE, THE CHILDHOOD HOME OF JOHN MCCRAE, WHO WROTE THE FAMOUS WARTIME POEM “IN FLANDERS FIELDS.”

His poem helped make the poppy an enduring symbol of Remembrance Day and the sacrifices it commemorates. Learn about John McCrae’s life and achievements before visiting the beautifully landscaped Memorial Garden nearby. There’s a monument there, carved in local limestone, with a cast bronze book inscribed with the words of McCrae’s famous poem.

Need a Map?


Events in the Area


Related Articles


Nothing found.

This guide represents a weekend-long experience, highlighting one of the many wonderful destinations in the area. To suggest a destination for a future guide, please contact us.

The City of Guelph provided information and assistance for the creation of this guide. All editorial decisions were made at the sole discretion of Ontario Culture Days staff. This guide was written by Esther Lee.