Hello there loyal Historically Guelph Readers!

Please join us on our new blog, Guelph: Then and Now, where we will be posting all kinds of great content about our Royal City both present day happenings and historical tidbits. As always, we will highlight some of the great programs, resources and services available at your Guelph Public Library.  Check it out: https://guelphthenandnow.wordpress.com/

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A Christmas tree for the season

F45-0-5-0-0-296You might be wondering why I am writing about Christmas trees. I am sure many of us in Guelph are familiar with them and even acquire one for the Christmas holidays. They can come in different shapes and sizes, but are generally green in color and often end up decorated.  The photograph on the left was taken in 1983 by the Guelph Mercury showing Howard Smith among Christmas trees.  When I came across this photograph I could not help but write about them.

Although an Archivist Librarian by trade, I have some first-hand knowledge of Christmas trees. To this day I usually help my father cut them in the fall of the year. What many of you probably do not know about my Christmas tree is that it is shipped to me in a box. Yes a box, much to the amazement of my colleagues. Shipped by my parents from Nova Scotia it is probably the best gift ever.  To learn more about Christmas trees check out the book Christmas tress by Kathryn Stevens at your library.

I know it seems a little early, but happy holidays.

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Poets of 19th century Guelph

A new book entitled Guelph versifiers of the 19th century by David J. Knight rediscovers many Guelph poets of the 19th century. If I were to pick a favorite poet from those mentioned in David’s work I would probably choose A.E.L Treleaven.  In 1877 he wrote a poem entitled Guelph Fifteenth Anniversary. I will reproduce the first stanza, but the complete poem can be found in the above work.

Just fifty years ago to-day,
Noble Galt and Dunlop stood-
With brandy flask and powder horn-
Within a pathless wood;
An Indian cabin nestled there,
Offering shelter from the storm:
Gladly they sought its humble shade,
To rest each weary’d form.

I think what caught my attention is the line within a pathless wood. I can only imagine what Guelph must have looked like when Galt and others arrived in the area. Pathless suggests a kind of difficult transverse. I can imagine forests, thick bush, swamps, and or cliffs which might impede one’s movement.  It reminds me of exploring my father’s woodlot, which in places, consist of a mixture of swamp and bush.

This picture shows John Smith a 19th century Guelph poet.

This picture shows John Smith a 19th century Guelph poet.

There many more poets mentioned in David’s work.  James Gay is one, but also included is John Taylor, Thomas Murphy, and John Smith.  Interestingly John Smith was a mayor of Guelph who also established the Guelph and Galt Advertiser.  If you like poetry and a bit of history check out this book.

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Early photographers of Guelph

C24-0-0-0-0-24Guelph had a number of early photographers who set up studios in the area.  Based on Chas Corke’s article entitled Early Photography and Photographers in Guelph and Area, William Burgess opened a studio on lower Wyndham Street in 1859.  It was later carried on by his son.  William’s work was mostly portraiture as can be seen in the example on the right.

Chas Corke’s research includes others such as Thomas Smith and Willard Marshall.  Thomas Smith’s studio was called the Victoria Gallery which operated on St. George’s Square.  His business later moved to the corner of Wyndham and Market Square.  Willard Marshall opened a studio in 1860-61.  In 1875 his operation was located at 95 Wyndham Street.

To learn more about early photographers in Guelph consult Chas Corke’s work “Early Photography and Photographers in Guelph and Area.” Historic Guelph: The Royal City (1978): 55-68.  As I started writing this post I could not help by smile.  After all someday we may be writing and reading about some of Guelph’s early digital photographers.


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Who was John “Jock” Clark?

F70-0-2-0-0-3Guelph’s floral clock is perhaps one of city’s most recognizable attractions. Based in Riverside Park the clock has no doubt seen its fair share of wedding photographers and newlyweds. An article published in the Guelph Mercury dated March 26, 2002, indicates that the original floral clock was built in 1949, and then rebuilt and mechanized in 1955. According to various sources such as Guelph: a People’s Heritage 1827-2002 and Guelph: Perspectives on a Century of Change 1900-2000, the floral clock design or concept was the mastermind of John “Jock” Clark who was influenced by his hobby of collecting old clocks. He managed the city’s parks from 1948 to 1973. The above Mercury article wrote that he spent three years planning the clock. The photograph on the right shows the clock as it appeared in 2012. “August 12, 2012 Diamond Jubilee” is written on the clock’s face. A plaque can also be seen in this photograph crediting John for its design.

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Famous Guelphites and soldiers of the First and Second World Wars

CenotaphDuring the last couple of months the Guelph Public Library has been researching the lives of Guelph soldiers from the First and Second World Wars using the names found on the city’s War Memorial or Cenotaph.  The cenotaph sits at the corner of Woolwich Street and Eramosa Road.  The aim of this project is to personalize the names found on the cenotaph.

Various records were used in creating the profiles such as attestation papers, circumstances of Casualty documents, and death certificates often available through the library’s subscription to Ancestry.  Other tools provided valuable information and they included The Canadian Virtual War Memorial, the Canadian Great War Project, and Service Files of the Second World War . Photographs from the library’s holdings (if available) were also used to supplement the textual components.

Although there are still more names to be added, it has been wonderful to discover a little something about these individuals to help keep their memories alive.  To view the soldier profiles check out the  Famous Guelphites portal.  If you are interested in learning more about how to use the resources above just ask.



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Vertical Files (Newspaper Clippings)

The Guelph Public Library has an extensive collection of vertical files composed of newspaper clippings, collected between the 1960’s to about the early 2000s. There may be some articles that date prior to the 1960s. Many of these clippings were taken from the Guelph Mercury, Guelph Tribune, and possibly other newspapers such as the Guelph Guardian. Although the library no longer actively clips from these newspapers, the clippings are still accessible.

This photograph shows a camera being lifted at the location of the Guelph Mercury.  The camera is used during the process of producing the paper.  IT seemed a fitting photograph for a discussion about our vertical files collection.

This photograph shows a camera being lifted at the location of the Guelph Mercury. The camera is used during the process of producing the paper. It seemed a fitting photograph for a discussion about our vertical files collection.

The newspaper clippings, often containing articles of local historical interest, have been organized alphabetically into subject headings with see and see also references.  These files are useful to anyone researching a Guelph related topic. Even family historians might find these clipping files useful.

The vertical files are only for in-library use at the Central Library and cannot be interlibrary loaned.  To view the actual clippings you must ask a staff member at the information desk.  Customers will need to provide identification to use the files.  The information desk is where you will also find the subject headings used to organize the files.

You may also wish to consult the biographies and industries indexes.  Similar to the vertical files these indexes will list relevant newspaper articles with dates of publication for well-known or newsworthy Guelph residents or Guelph based companies, industries, and manufactures.  After consulting these indexes you would then need to view the relevant microfilm.

The next time you are in ask about these resources and we can help you get started.






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