Lynn Broughton has taken many detours on her way to Guelph and picked up a wealth of cultural and culinary experience in the process.
“I love eating with strangers,” said Broughton. “I really like meeting people and finding out their stories, sort of digging for those hidden gems.”
Broughton is the founder of Taste Detours, a business that offers walking tours of Guelph restaurants and shops.
“We don’t walk far but we take a long time and in between stops I am talking about history, architecture and culture in the city,” she said. “When all is said and done and they have had a taste or a sip or all the above, they will hopefully have a little insight into the streets of Guelph and the stories.”
When Broughton started Taste Detours most of her customers were locals but that changed after Trip Advisor started posting reviews about the tours.
“I have toured 1,071 people to date,” she said. “They have come from 61 Ontario cities, eight provinces, seven US states and eight countries including Qatar and Tasmania.”
Broughton was born in Winnipeg the youngest of three siblings.
“The bulk of my childhood was spent in Toronto with a little bit of Africa and a little bit of England,” she said. “My dad is an engineer and he had a three-year contract in Zambia so, when I was just eight we moved there.”
They lived in Zambia from 1974 until 1977 when her parents sent her and her brother and sister to school in England.
“All of my relatives are from Scotland and Northern England,” she said. “That probably helped with my parents’ decision to put us in a school for the year prior to returning to Canada.”
She first came to Guelph in 1984 to study at the University of Guelph.
“I started at U of G and finished at the University of Victoria in women’s studies and English,” she said.
While in Victoria she worked at the YM-YWCA running daycares and preschool programs.
“I have a wildly varied employment history,” said Broughton. “I tend to always work within communities in different ways. I have worked in restaurants since I was in high school. It is like a passport having restaurant experience. You can always pick up a job here and there.”
She moved back to Guelph in 1995 when her mother became ill.
“I still had lots of friends here and support and I always loved Guelph,” said Broughton.
“So, I came back here and worked at the Bookshelf for five years.”
She also got involved with the arts community doing contract work for Ed Video and volunteering with different boards including the Hillside Festival, River Run Centre and the city’s tourism advisory committee.
“I kind of got into that and then I got a job at Downtown Guelph,” she said. “It was called the Downtown Board of Management when I got hired in 2005. I was with them about eight years. I did all the marketing and communications and events.”
She freelanced for a few years after that before starting Taste Detours in October 2015.
“I am sole proprietor so everything to do with this company is me hustling and running,” said Broughton. “My husband Kerry will tell you he is the vice president and he is integral in the idea making and has starred in videos I’ve had produced.”
The online videos made by Guelph company Ward 1 caught the eye of producers at Bell Fibe TV1 and they recently shot a series of episodes featuring Broughton, Taste Detours and 12 local food businesses that are scheduled to air at the end of June.
Broughton has plans for other collaborations and to expand the tours beyond downtown and even to other cities.“There is tons of potential,” she said. “Sure we are with a bunch of strangers but we are doing something that everyone around the world does is break bread together and share food and it’s a lovely thing to do.”