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Library photo contest winner shows glimpse into Guelph's hidden past

Winning photograph depicts an auto mechanic's business on Cork Street likely taken in the 1920s
The winning photograph submitted by Sylvia Markle-Craine, shows a family garage business located at 40 Cork St. – likely taken in the 1920s.

Guelph Public Library is excited to announce the winner of its “Guelph’s Hidden Past” photo contest.

With a keen interest in local history and strong Guelph roots, contest judges Bonnie Durtnall, Cameron Shelley and Ed Butts rose to the challenge of unlocking Guelph’s hidden past by choosing an entry that best captured a sneak peek into the city’s heritage from over 75 submissions.

The winning photograph, submitted by Sylvia Markle-Craine, depicts a family car garage business located at 40 Cork St. in Guelph – likely taken in the 1920s.

The photograph captures and highlights the importance of transportation in everyday life as well as demonstrating the significance neighbourhood garages held at the time.

As more people began to own vehicles, the rise of small businesses, like Craine’s Garage, provided much needed trusted services for tires, repairs and replacement parts.

Did you know in 1921 the Motor Vehicle Amendment Act was updated to ensure vehicle owners felt safe about who worked on their automobiles? Before this, there were no standards for automobile repairs nor did garages require licenses.

With this new stipulation on motor vehicle services, more people were becoming educated as mechanics as the automobile industry was booming.

Interestingly, there are some individuals with the last name Craine listed as mechanics in the city of Guelph directories found in the library’s archives.

The urban and rural landscapes of Guelph were changing to accommodate the evolution of automobiles – which were here to stay – and ultimately, gave way to new business opportunities in the city.

“Early photographs of Guelph automobiles and businesses are hard to come by,” said Guelph Public Library’s archivist, Darcy Hiltz. “I really enjoyed receiving the numerous entries for the Library’s Archive collection. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about Guelph.”

Thank you to everyone who submitted photos and to the contest judges for sharing their expertise. Learn more about the Guelph Public Library’s Archives at or book an appointment with the archivist at 519-824-6220.



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