Guelph, that Ontario town that Sat Nav’s can’t pronounce!

I have to grimace every time I hear my cars GPS try to say ‘Guelph’. It always come out as ‘Gulp’!

Guelph is a University town about an hours drive west from Toronto. I have lived here for the past three years. While investigating my new home town I found out that there are a number of well known writers both living and dead from the area.

The first famous writer I became aware of was through my grandchildren. They are or have been students at John McCrae school, on Water Street. I had heard of Canadian poet back in the UK when I was a child. When my Head Master read a poem on one Remembrance day written by a dead soldier from the First World War. What I didn’t remember was the name of the poet until the grandchildren told me.

John McCrae, was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Canadian forces fighting in France. He was a physician, author, artist and poet, best known for writing the famous war memorial poem “In Flanders Fields”. McCrae died of pneumonia near the end of the war.

Guelph has seen many writers over the years and currently has four well known names associated with the town.

Edward Butts

Is a writer and editor with a special interest in Canadian history. He is one of Guelph’s most prolific authors. Butts has published numerous books of fiction and non-fiction, and has written for several publications in Canada and the United States.

He has written a number of books for adults focusing on pirates, outlaws, and bandits of Canada, as well as Canadian battlefields.  His books include stories that would even appeal to Hollywood moviemakers, and definitely prove that Canada had an exciting history.

Jean Little

Is recognized throughout Canada and the United States for her candid and unsentimental portrayals of adolescent life. Once a teacher of handicapped children, Little herself is only partially sighted, and she uses much of her real-life experience as the basis for her books.

Robert Munsch

Is known for his exuberant storytelling methods, with exaggerated expressions and acted voices. He makes up his stories in front of audiences and refines them through repeated tellings.
His stories do not have a recurring single character, instead the characters are based on the children to whom he first told the story, including his own children. He often performs at children’s festivals and appears at elementary schools, sometimes unannounced. In 1991, some of his books were adapted into the cartoon series A Bunch of Munsch.

Thomas King

Has been writing novels, children’s books, and collections of stories since the 1980s. His notable works include A Coyote Columbus Story and Green Grass, Running Water – both of which were nominated for a Governor General’s Award – and The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America, which won the 2014 RBC Taylor Prize.
King’s writing style incorporates oral storytelling structures with traditional Western narrative. He writes in a conversational tone; for example, in Green Grass, Running Water, the narrator argues with some of the characters. In The Truth About Stories, King addresses the reader as if in a conversation with responses. King uses a variety of anecdotes and humorous narratives while maintaining a serious message in a way that has been compared to the style of trickster legends in Native American culture.

Being new to Guelph, I have found that there is a wealth of writing talent in the local area. Some of whom have been published and some like myself still on the road to their first publication.

There is a Guelph Writers group that meet on a weekly basis to help and support other writers. They have a website and blog which are worth taking a look at if you are inspired to write.

Their website is Guelph Write Now

Their blog, which list all events can be found at Guelph-Write-Now

So for a town that can’t be pronounced correctly by a piece of software, it has a glowing history and future for the written word. Long may it last!


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