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Spirit Walk talks a stroll to Guelph circa 1867

A mayor, doctor and female farmer among the spirits to be visited Sunday at Woodlawn Memorial Park
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A former mayor, a farmer and one of Guelph’s earliest brewers will be among the spirits visited in Woodlawn Cemetery on Sunday at the annual Spirit Walk.

Spirit Walk 1867 focuses on six individuals who lived roughly 150 years ago in Guelph, said Sarah Ball, community relations coordinator with Guelph Museums.

“We wanted to capture what was going in in Guelph around that time,” Ball said. “It was a very important time not only for Canada but also for Guelph.

“There are just so many stories to tell really.”

Five separate 90-minute walking tours leave from the mausoleum at Woodlawn Memorial Park with the first one set for 1 p.m. Sunday and the others at 20 minute intervals.

The tours will be conducted by Guelph Museums staff.

The event sells out each year. Tickets are $20 and available online through www.guelphmuseums.ca.

The event is a partnership between Guelph Museums and Woodlawn Memorial Park volunteers who gather the information for the tours from their archives.

Ball said there are lots of regulars who come every year.

“It’s got quite a following and the Woodlawn Park is such a beautiful atmosphere,” Ball said.

This year’s spirits are:

  • Dr. Thomas Parker (1829-1868): A former mayor of Guelph and prominent physician who died when he fell from a railway bridge.
  • Hannah (Watson) Harland (1816-1858): the daughter of a poor farmer who gives a glimpse of what average life was like in that time period. Harland died after slipping on railway tracks while changing trains on a trip and losing both of her legs.
  • Henry Orton (1802-1869): a farmer-turned-physician who was prominent for his work in Guelph, Hespeler and Fergus.
  • Elizabeth McCrea (1778-1855): came to Guelph to farm with her husband after receiving land through the Canada Company, only to see her husband pass away a year after arriving in Guelph. Went on to continue farming for over 30 years.
  • James Hodgert (1795-1855): initially a weaver, Hodgert switched his business to a brewery that was later rented by John Sleeman.
  • John Thorp (1800-1865): a builder and hotelier who oversaw the construction of many homes and churches in the city.


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