As its title proclaims, Guelph's 50th Anniversary by A.E.L. Treleaven is a celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Guelph, Ontario on April 23, 1827.  After tributes to the town's founding father, John Galt, and two of his colleagues, William "Tiger" Dunlop and Charles Prior, and a bow in the direction of British royalty, the poem "take[s] a retrospective glance / Over the then and now" (25-26) of the town's built environment and its inhabitants' principal occupations and achievements.  Treleaven announces the poem's conclusion by returning in its final stanzas to Galt and then brings it to a close with a gracious tribute to Queen Victoria and a solemn imprecation that Guelph may "Long. . .in our memories ring, / Fragrant as the breath of May" (119-20).

In his later novels of emigration and settlement, Lawrie Todd (1830) and Bogle Corbet (1831), as well as in his subsequent Autobiography (1833), Galt provides detailed and highly influential accounts of the ceremony of cutting the first tree that Treleaven briefly describes in his opening stanzas.  On April 23, 1827, the tree chosen was "a large maple" (Autobiography 2:59) whose stump, as Harold Kalman observes, became "the focus of the town plan, which featured a series of streets radiating from it in a fan-like arrangement" in which "[i]mportant sites were reserved for a large triangular market-place and several churches" (1:644-45).  (See illustration and Explanatory Notes, 2.)  Although Joseph Connolly's spectacular Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception (1876-1926) was barely begun in 1877 when Treleaven's poem was published, Guelph then boasted several impressive ecclesiastical, educational, and municipal buildings, including St. George's Anglican Church and the First Baptist Church (see Explanatory Notes 33), the Ontario Agricultural College building (see Explanatory Notes 45), and Thomas Young's castellated Wellington County Courthouse (1842-1844).

In choosing to cast Guelph's 50th Anniversary in eight-line stanzas, Treleaven wisely avoided ottava rima and its disposition towards humour, intentional or otherwise.  Instead, he chose a loosely rhymed combination of four- and three- stress lines (a4b3c4b3d4e3f4e3) whose tendency to break into two quatrains assists in giving the poem a ballad-like quality that is not entirely inappropriate to its theme of heroic civic achievement.


The Present Text


The present text of Guelph's 50th Anniversary is based on the microform of the first edition of the poem in the collection of the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions (27724).


Works Cited


Galt, John.  Autobiography.  2 vols.  London: Cochrane and McCrone, 1833.


Kalman, Harold.  A History of Canadian Architecture.  2 vols.  Toronto: Oxford UP, 



"Plan of the Town of Guelf, Upper Canada, Founded by the Canada Company 1827"


"Plan of the Town of Guelf, Upper Canada, Founded by the Canada Company 1827," engraved by J. and C. Walker and reduced by F. Caltlin in Joseph Bouchette, The British Dominions in North America (London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, 1831) (facing 1:118).