City of Guelph founded, incorporated

On today’s date in 1827, the city of Guelph was founded in central Ontario; fifty-two years later, in 1879, the city was incorporated.

In 1977, the Sherrit Mint struck a trade dollar in commemoration of the city’s 150th anniversary (1827-1977).

When Guelph was still a town, its council adopted a crest to prepare for its upcoming proclamation as a city in 1879.

The original coat of arms depicted on its left side an axeman standing beside a tree stump, representing John Galt’s felling of a mighty tree to establish Guelph. On the right side is Britannia, with gown, helmet and shield, representing Guelph’s links with the U.K., with a cornucopia containing the city’s bounty. In the centre, as Guelph’s arms, was a shield with the symbolic white running horse of Hanover, the ancient principality in Germany where the Guelph royal connections go back 1,000 years. On top, again representing Guelph’s link with the British Royal family, was the supposed Guelphic crown with a lion on it. The inscription was in Latin and read “Fides, Professio, Fidelitas.”

For nearly 100 years the coat of arms was used extensively and considered handsome and historically correct. However, it was unofficial and known to be flawed from a heraldic point of view.

Guelph celebrated its sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) in 1977. To commemorate the occasion it was decided to redesign Guelph’s official arms and crest.

Well-known artist Eric Barth, a graduate of Heidelberg University in Germany, agreed to redesign the official arms. He was assisted by a panel of local historians.

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