Incredible Historic Sites Around Rockwood
When living at Rockwell, the only thing that separates you and a world of Canadian history is a bike ride or short drive. In the time it would take you to read John McCrae’s biography on his Wikipedia page, you could actually drive to the house he was born in. Likewise, you would be waiting longer to board a bus on many of the TTC’s routes than it would take to board a vintage TTC streetcar at the Halton Country Radial Railway. Whether your interests are as broad as the history of Canada, or as specific as late 19th century Canadian architecture, there is a historical site to fit every niche when you’re living at Rockwell Residence Estates.
Arguably the most prominent of all of Guelph’s historical sites is the Roman Catholic Minor basilica and parish church, Basilica of Our Lady Immaculate. Built between 1875 and 1883, this breathtaking example of the Victorian Gothic architectural style is brimming with fine art. From its stained glass windows to its relief carvings and sculptures, the basilica has something for everyone. Originally built on the point of the city with the highest altitude, Guelph city by-laws continuously ensure the visibility of the basilica, with it being against the law today to construct a new building taller than the basilica. Today, the Basilica of Our Lady Immaculate is a must-see destination for anybody in the area, as well as a celebrated source of local pride for every Guelphite.
It would be difficult to find a location with roots deeper in Canadian history than the birthplace of Canada’s very own John McCrae. Born in 1872 at 108 Water Street in Guelph, McCrae was an author, poet, physician and soldier, best known as being the man who penned the famous World War I poem, In Flanders Fields. The McCrae house is home to a collection of over 30,000 items pertaining to local and national history, with some of the oldest being almost 300 years old. For a more historically enriching experience, guests can coincide their visit with one of the many live lectures and workshops hosted by the McCrae House; with topics ranging from fairy tales and fantasy to the World Wars and the history of the Canadian immigration experience. Visitors of all ages are sure to find something to take away from their trip to McCrae House.
There is no better place to commemorate the academic contributions the University of Guelph has made than to visit its oldest surviving building. Constructed in 1879, the wooden building was constructed to serve a less than glamourous purpose, to act as carriage house for the principal of the Ontario Agricultural College, today known as the University of Guelph. Since its construction, the building has undergone several re-purposings and renovations, being used at different times as a storage area, an event meeting place, an auction house, and even a sheep barn. In 1987 the building was renovated and designated the university’s Alumni House: international headquarters for all University of Guelph graduates. Today, the exterior of Alumni House stands as a striking example of timber-framed rural Canadian architecture, as well as a reminder of the university’s origins and importance its alumni have had in the world.
Located at 13629 Guelph Line in Milton lays the Halton Country Radial Railway, Canada’s first and largest electrical railway museum. This must-see destination for transportation enthusiasts and casual commuters alike boasts a unique collection of historic streetcars and radial cars, as well as an engaging compilation of other memorabilia pertaining to the world-renowned Toronto Transit Commission. Once visitors have toured the HCRR Museum and brushed up on some Ontario interurban history, they can relax on a vintage streetcar that runs along a scenic two-kilometer track. The Halton Country Radial Railway is sure to be an interactive trip the whole family can enjoy and learn from.
Sitting at the junction of York Road and Gordon Street on the Eramosa River Trail sits one of Guelph’s premier tourist destinations: The Lattice Covered Bridge. The bridge, one of only two lattice covered bridges in Ontario, was hand-constructed in 1992 by over 400 members of the Timber Farmers Guild using only blueprints authentic to 19th century architecture. Today, cyclists and pedestrians crossing the 44-meter-long bridge can take advantage of the perfect photo-op the bridge allows, thanks to the scenic Speed River below and the abundance of natural light filtering through the lattice style covering.