In late 2015, Lynn Broughton made the decision to highlight the culture and cuisine of Downtown Guelph by launching its first ever guided cultural and culinary walking tour known as Taste deTours.
A Guelph resident for twenty years, Broughton has been long passionate about the Downtown core. Prior to launching her own independent business in 2015, Broughton worked for the Downtown Business Association, working in their events, marketing and communications department.
After spending some time in Chicago training in food tourism, Broughton was ready to jump in and launch her own walking tour in Guelph.
“I launched in October 2015, which is a funny and untraditional time to launch a walking tour,” said Broughton.
Although the winter months are typically quiet for walking tours, Broughton was determined to use the knowledge she had learned in Chicago and apply it at home.
“I’m so glad I started when I did. I learned so much during those first months,” said Broughton.
Since starting the business only four months ago, there has been a lot of interest in her walking tour.
“I still have people coming on my walking tour in the dead of winter,” she laughed.
Broughton is natural storyteller, enjoys meeting people in her community and forming lasting relationships.
“Guelph was a natural place to have launched this [walk]. Tasting the culture of Guelph through food, but also our heritage comes through in the walk,” she said.
She runs her tour weekly on both Fridays and Saturdays.
The main tour is called “To the Core” and runs for three hours, covering about 2 km around the downtown core. There are variety of businesses to stop at, including Eric the Baker, Ouderkirk & Taylor, Atmosphere Café, Wellington Cakes, just to name a few.
Each stop includes the history of the shop, often shared by the shop owner or manager, including information about food sourcing.
“Between each step I talk about the history of the buildings, our city has a very cinematic history that many don’t know about,” said Broughton.
Broughton says that launching her new business has given her a chance to re-invent herself in different ways. Whether it’s collaborating with other independent businesses, running special events around the city, or even helping other businesses grow through marketing and social media, she enjoys doing it all. She has a passion for everything local.
When visiting any of the shops that Broughton partners with, a simple mention of her name brings an immediate smile.
“I trust you if Lynn sent you,” said a smiling Spencer Mullins, General Manager of Ouderkirk & Taylor.
If you ask Broughton what her favourite story is to share on the walk, she pauses and tells you there are too many wonderful stories to share only one.
If pushed, she will tell you a carefully crafted and exciting story about the spot where each tour begins: at the statue of John Galt, the founder of the city of Guelph. The story highlights Galt’s boisterous personality and the ceremonious chopping down of the first tree when he decided to settle on the land that is now Guelph. During the “felling of the first tree,” Galt had a group of 28 men with him. In that group, was Felix Hanlon. They would be among Guelph’s founders.
At the end of each tour, with bellies full, a tour group heads into the cozy building that houses Wellington Cakes, on Douglas Street. It’s there where they have their final “bite” that includes a taste of a luxurious macaroon. They are then introduced to the shop’s owner and baker-in-chief, Anne Forestell. This meeting brings the tour full circle as Forestell's great, great, great, great grandfather was Felix Hanlon.
It is the perfect ending to the walk. From first step of the tour to the last, this is a story of Guelph’s history, woven from one of the founding fathers to his modern day descendent.
It’s a story of a profound and enduring legacy right in the heart of the great city of Guelph.
Find out more about Lynn’s tours here.