In September 2013 my family packed our bags and moved from Milton to Guelph. My husband had found a job at Lakeside Church, and although we knew very little about Guelph at the time, we made plans to make this new city our permanent home.
I remember driving through the streets of Guelph with our little family, exploring new neighbourhoods, parks, and restaurants, and feeling like everything was new and foreign. I had never lived anywhere outside of the Greater Toronto Area, and it took a long time for me to get used to living in what felt like a smaller town.
Moving to a brand new city also meant that we didn’t know anyone. I had no friends, no family, and no history in this new place. I didn’t understand the culture or language of Guelph, and felt like an outsider often.
For awhile I dreamed of moving back to what felt like home. I missed Milton, and I missed my mom’s neighbourhood in Burlington. Whenever we visited I wished we could stay longer, savouring what felt familiar and right.
Everything in Guelph felt so old. There were lots of bumpy roads and overgrown parks. We would drive past abandoned strip malls and I’d long for the new and fresh look of brand new big box malls.
It took time, but finally I decided to give Guelph a chance. I made friends at my local church, and started asking questions about their favourite places in Guelph. We moved around a lot at first, starting off in the North end of Guelph, moving to the East end, and finally settling at Exhibition Park. It wasn’t until we moved to our third home that we really started to feel settled in our city.
Now that we live by London Road, we spend our days exploring the streets near our house. We’ve fallen in love with the character and history of our neighbourhood, and made many friends in our area.
My children visit Exhibition Park and splash in the wading pool a few times a week. When we are looking for a change we head to Sunny Acres to play. We go to the Arboretum to look at the beautiful flowers, and when it’s rainy or too hot we walk around Stone Road Mall.
On weekdays when we are too lazy to cook we pick up pizza on Speedvale at Little Caesars, or sometimes we make the extra drive to Pizza La Villa. When we want to splurge for a date night we go to Baker Street Station, or the Woolwich Arrow. We’ve learned to love local food because of Guelph. We try and support our local grocery stores by shopping at Market Fresh, and making the drive to the Wellington Country Market on weekends.
We support our local events as well. Every year we go to the Multicultural Festival and Ribfest at Riverside Park. Some weekends we walk around Downtown Guelph and take the kids to the splash pad by City Hall. Afterwards we head over to Sweet for a small ice cream.
We never seem to have a shortage of fun places to visit, and when all else fails we just spread a blanket on our front lawn and enjoy conversation with our neighbours passing by.
My daughters don’t know anything else but Guelph. Two of our three children were born at Guelph General. We love our local school, and can’t imagine sending our children anywhere else. We dream of staying in this neighbourhood forever, and continuing to make friends in our area.
I’ve changed a lot since landing (not so gracefully) in Guelph almost four years ago. Today I fit right in with the rest of the Guelphites. I may not have as long of a history of others, but we love writing our story in this beautiful city that still feels like a small town to me.
Are you an original Guelphite? Tell me a bit about your story in the comments below!