After a short break, Historical Walking Tours are back! These guided tours run approximately two hours in length and explore Guelph’s vibrant cultural past through various landmarks and historic buildings. The Walking Tour season runs annually from April to October but every year the outdoor tours go on hold for the month of July in order to escape from the occasionally unbearable mid-summer heat.
A quick history: The tours got started back in 1977, led by the late Professor Gordon Couling under the sponsorship of Guelph Arts Council to celebrate the city’s sesquicentennial. Couling was a faculty member at the University of Guelph for twenty-five years where, prior to his retirement in 1974, he served as chairman of the Department of Fine Art. He was also actively involved in helping to develop civic awareness of Guelph’s architectural history as the first chairman of the City’s Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee (LACAC), holding that position until his passing in 1984. Guelph Arts Council began offering regular Historic Walking Tours shortly afterwards in 1986 in memory of Professor Gordon Couling.
Six Historical Walking Tour routes are currently offered:
Tour I: Where Guelph Began explores Guelph’s original market square area, nearly 24 acres laid out by John Galt in 1827.
Tour II: Downtown Walkabout covers the historic architecture of present downtown Guelph.
Tour III: Slopes of the Speed looks at the area close to the Speed River where many of Guelph's most distinguished historical homes are located.
Tour IV: Altar and Hearth in Victorian Guelph glimpses into churches and homes of the Victorian era, offered in two parts.
Tour V: Brooklyn and the College Hill looks at one of Guelph's early industrial sections on the south side of the Speed River, as well as the College Hill area, and includes some of the city’s best examples of masonry and stone carving.
Tour VI: Ward One Guelph reveals the rich variety of historic architecture and diversity of the residents who formed Guelph in this area, southeast of the downtown, between the Speed and Eramosa Rivers. Particular attention is devoted to residential/industrial proximity and the city’s early Italian community.
The tours are led by a fantastic group of volunteers that repeatedly devote their time and energy to ensure the longstanding series continues. Walking Tour guide Terry Crowley proudly led the first Guelph Arts Council Historical Walking Tour in memory of Gordon Couling in 1986, and is still a regular tour guide today. “The walking tours attract a greater range of people than most Arts Council events each year,” explains Terry. “They show people how architecture is art, and how fortunate this city is in its diverse architectural heritage.”
Admission to Historical Walking Tours is $5 and illustrated guidebooks are available for $5. The remaining tours will commence Sunday, August 10 and continue every Sunday until October 12. The complete 2014 Historical Walking Tour schedule is available on our online events calendar. See you there!
By Noelle Lalonde