The City of Guelph
Greetings! Welcome to WRX Property Group’s website and blog. Today, we’ll be talking about the crown jewel of Southern Ontario. Is it Ottawa, the nation’s capital? What about Kingston, which even has ‘king’ in its name?
Neither: It’s Guelph, the so-called ‘Royal City!’ Let’s set out to see what sets Guelph apart from all the rest, what makes it tick, and how it earned its regal nickname.
Guelph in a Glance
Guelph is located in southwestern Ontario, around 50 kilometers northwest of Lake Ontario. It’s roughly a 30 minute drive from the bustling urban hub of Kitchener–Waterloo, and just over an hour away from downtown Toronto.
As of Canada’s 2016 Census, Guelph has a population of over 131 000, making it the 23rd largest population centre in the country. It’s also the fifth fastest-growing city in Canada. Its name comes from the House of Guelph (officially, the House of Welf), the family of the reigning British Monarch at the time it was founded (King George IV).
This is where ‘the Royal City’ nickname comes from. Guelph is both the first, and seemingly only, place of its name.
Guelph, as we know it, dates back to the early-mid nineteenth-century (1827, to be exact). A Scottish novelist and poet by the name of John Galt founded and served as the first superintendent of the Canada Company, a royally-approved British land development firm tasked with populating southern Ontario (at that time, Upper Canada).
Galt, along with his sidekick ‘Tiger’ Dunlop (a fellow Scotsman, and a legend in his own time famous for a prank involving a porcupine and a barrel of nails), oversaw many development projects. Despite moving first to Toronto (at that time, York), Galt decided the area that is now Guelph would serve both as the company headquarters and his home.
He and Tiger Dunlop organized the site to resemble a grid-shaped European city, attempted to attract settlers, and constructed the main office building (Tiger also chopped down a maple tree). It would turn out that Galt was a better writer than an accountant, though, and he ended up being kicked out of the company and all the way back to Europe in disgrace (the community of Galt, now part of Cambridge, is named after him).
Tiger remained in Canada, but he decided he preferred war and practical jokes to business. Despite being abandoned by its founders, though, Guelph itself persisted. It grew slowly at first, but after a major railway line reached it, connecting it to Toronto, its population exploded (almost tripling in a twenty year period).
Guelph was incorporated as a city in 1879.
In short, Guelph has a great economy. Because of its diverse range of employers, unemployment is consistently one of the lowest in all of Canada. It’s considered one of the best places to move if you’re looking for a job, and it can even outshine Kitchener-Waterloo in this regard.
Manufacturing is a major sector of employment in Guelph, but other robust industries include education (especially the University of Guelph), agriculture and biotechnology, and health services. Coupled with low rates of unemployment, Guelph is also distinct in its frequently low crime rate, particularly amongst young offenders.
The two primary school boards that serve Guelph are the Upper Grand District School Board, which has schools in Guelph, Wellington County and Dufferin County; and Wellington Catholic District School Board, which serves Guelph and Wellington County.
WRX will be commencing its series on Guelph secondary schools shortly, so stay tuned for that!
In terms of post-secondary opportunities, Guelph does indeed have a reputation as a university town (in a good way). Conestoga College has a Guelph Campus (located in northwest Guelph), which runs a very highly regarded program in the motive power trades (specific programs include: Automotive Service, Heavy Construction Equipment Operation, Pre-Apprenticeship Truck and Coach/Heavy Duty Equipment Technician, and more).
Additionally, Conestoga’s Guelph Campus offers a range of Business programs (such as Office Administration, and Human Resources Management [Optional Co-op]), academic upgrading, and career-focused programs.
The heart (or perhaps the brain) of Guelph, though, is the University of Guelph. Since being established in 1964, the University of Guelph has become one of the top Comprehensive Schools in all of Canada. Maclean’s 2018 rankings placed it at number 4 overall, and number 2 in Ontario (second only to the University of Waterloo), and it has consistently ranked as one of the top 3 over the past two decades.
Perhaps even more impressively, its Veterinary Science program was ranked number 4 in the whole world, according to QS World University Rankings by Subject 2015 (Quacquarelli Symonds). The University of Guelph has an excellent reputation within Canada and beyond, with numerous departments empowering faculty and students to conduct research on a variety of subjects (for example, a University of Guelph research team created the Yukon Gold potato!).
It has over 25 000 students, and it consistently ranks highly in terms of student satisfaction. The University of Guelph is linked to both Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo, offering such exciting opportunities as the Tri-University Graduate History Program; the Guelph-Waterloo Physics Institute; and the Tri-University Group of Libraries, which enables students to utilize the library resources of all three institutions.
Verily, the corridor stretching from Guelph to Kitchener-Waterloo is an educational wonderland.
First things first: one of Guelph’s assets, and part of the reason so many people are choosing to move to Guelph, is that it’s got great access to Toronto, but it’s smaller and more affordable than Toronto itself.
Guelph has both rail and bus connections to and from Toronto, and its GO service runs back and forth from the crack of dawn to the middle of the night (more specifically, from around 5 a.m.
to after midnight). Service to and from Kitchener-Waterloo is available, too, as well as to and from several other cities. Trains and buses run out of the lovely (and historic) Guelph Central Station, and for those of you interested in historical tidbits, Guelph is the first and only municipality in the entire British Commonwealth to own its own railway line (the Guelph Junction Railway).
Guelph: keeping it rail since 1884.
Guelph has an attractive downtown area, with Victorian architecture and historic sites. There are also museums, natural sites (including the popular Guelph Lake), several sports teams (including the OHL’s Guelph Storm, who’ve won the J. Ross Robertson Cup three times since forming in the 1991-92 season), and more.
Guelph also has shows at the Sleeman Centre, and every year residents look forward to the three-day Hillside Festival. The Hillside Festival’s popular outdoor, summer event that features a kids’ stage, four non-kids’ stages, and some great musicians, artists, and workshops (past performers include Arcade Fire, Gord Downie, and Sarah McLachlan).
Written by Will Kummer