The city of Guelph was named by founder John Galt in 1827 to honour the British Royal Family, the Hanoverians, who were descended from the House of Welf (Also known as the Guelfs or Guelph), one of the great political factions in late medieval Germany and Italy, and the ancestral family of the reigning British monarch at the time George IV.
The origin of the city’s name is also why you might hear Guelph referred to as “The Royal City.” The spelling has been changed to today’s “Guelph” — but it’s pronounced just as it was over 170 years ago: gwelf (rhymes with self).
Did you know?
- Guelph was founded on St. George’s Day, April 23rd, 1827.
- Galt chose the town’s name to honour Britain’s royal family as it apparently had never been used as a place name before.
- During the First World War, King George V was prevailed upon to change the royal family’s surname to Windsor, because Saxe-Coburg sounded too German for a king whose country was at war with Germany.
- Founder John Galt’s bosses, the directors of the Canada Company, objected to the name Guelph. They couldn’t envision Galt’s settlement on the Speed River speed growing into a prosperous metropolis, and insisted that the royal tribute be reserved for more advantageously located town. They suggested the name Goderich instead.
- There are only 3 other places in the world that have or had the name Guelph. All are or were located in the United States of America. Guelph, North Dakota was founded in 1886 by Guelph, Ontario resident Silas R. Dales as a station for the Great Northern Railway. There was a place in Clark County, Nevada named Guelph, however, there is little information on where within the State it was located. In Kansas, there is a Township named Guelph in Sumner County. The name, from around 1870’s, was also a now discontinued Postal Office within the County.
- There are numerous streets and roads named after Guelph. Several are located within Ontario including places like Fergus, Rockwood, Halton, Kitchener, Cambridge, Startford, Burlington, Hamilton, and Acton. There are also many Guelphs across Canada. In British Columbia there are 4 streets and even a park named after Guelph. Vancouver has Guelph St and Guelph Park, in Pentiction there is Guelph Avenue, and in Prince George there is Guelph Crescent and Guelph Place. Saskatoon, Winnipeg, and in Woodstock in New Brunswick round out the rest of Canada. There are also places around the world with the street name Guelph including North Branch, Michigan, Liverpool and Norwich in the United Kingdom and Even Australia with a street named Guelph near Melbourne and one in Regents Park, New South Wales. In Italy, there is Via Guelfa.
- There is only one other city in Canada that uses the ‘Royal City’ nickname. That would be New Westminster, British Columbia . Both cities had a feud over which city rightfully should be called the Royal City. You can read about that here.
- The Guelph Treasure is a collection of medieval ecclesiastical art originally housed at Brunswick Cathedral in Braunschweig, Germany. The Treasure takes its name from the princely House of Guelph of Brunswick-Lüneburg.