5 Reasons Guelph is a Hot Spot for Wellness

November 8, 2018

Guelph, a city of 130,000 in southwestern Ontario, is a great place for living wehl! Founded in 1827, Guelph is one of Canada’s first “planned” cities. Designed by Scottish novelist John Galt, it bears resemblance to a small European City Centre. The city straddles two rivers, and the downtown emerged at the meeting of these two rivers. Some people believe there are particular healing properties in a place where two rivers meet. Whether that is the case or not, Guelph has a lot to offer its residents in terms of wellness.

In this series called My Wehl in the City, we explore what it means to live (and travel) well in our cities, towns and neighborhoods. Our goal is to spark the movement of living out real-life wehlness in our everyday, busy lives – whatever wehlness means to each of us and wherever we live. We want to make it easier for all of us to incorporate holistic wehlness into our daily and weekly routines. We can support each other by sharing tips and inspiration from our experiences. Our Wehl social platform is all about collaborating to improve and maintain our wehlness, whether it be as individuals, professionals or organizations. Together, we want to inspire wehlness, make an impact, and show each other how we find wehlness in our neighborhoods!     

I’m Allison, I help support and manage the community on the Wehl platform and I’m excited to share with you about living wehl in Guelph.

Wehlness to Me Means…

As I’m learning more about wehlness I am realizing how important it is to take a holistic approach. I’m learning to see how our various components of wellness are interconnected and when we pursue wellness in one area it helps with others. For instance, when I’m physically active it encourages me to eat better and helps me pay more attention to my sleep so I can maintain routines. Pursuing these things together greatly impacts my physical, mental and spiritual health. Besides a holistic approach, I also think it’s really important for people to find what works for them; when we enjoy something and it’s realistic with our schedules this makes it much more likely that we will actually do it! I’m also realizing the importance of being in a position where I will be challenged to push myself a little more. For me this looks like joining a gym recently and attending classes that I enjoy but that I know will push me beyond what I would do on my own. Wehlness to me is a holistic approach that I can enjoy and maintain, including an edge of challenge to push me further.

I have found the pace, natural beauty, people and local business in Guelph very helpful for wehlness. I can honestly say I’m making healthier choices than before we moved to Guelph, in large part because of these influences.

Let’s dive into what makes Guelph unique.

1. LOCAL FOOD

Markets and Shops

Guelph Farmers' Market
Guelph Farmers’ Market

First and foremost, Guelph is known for its passion for local food. The first building in the new city of Guelph in 1827 was the market! The Guelph Farmers’ Market has always been in the heart of the city both physically and metaphorically. The Market has a dedicated building beside City Hall and is open every Saturday morning year-round.  Guelph’s proximity to agricultural land and its embedded culture of buying local means that thousands of people come to the market on Saturday morning year-round. The market has this to say: “Our market is about produce, but it is also about people and community, all of which come together on Saturday mornings allowing Guelphites to smile and greet friends and neighbours while obtaining some of the healthiest and most delicious food available.” It’s become a favourite Saturday morning activity for our family!

Aside from the Farmers’ Market, there are a selection of CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) where you can purchase a share for great produce all season long (for instance, Ignatius Farm CSA). Thatcher Farms has incredibly high quality meat and Tuckamore Bee Company makes delicious local honey (both of these are available at the Market!). If you are not sure where to start on your local food quest, Taste Real is there to point you in the right direction; they link all the local food vendors and offer events to connect you to local food in the area.

Guelph boasts great places downtown to buy nutritious and local food the rest of the week. You can get all your baking supplies, including locally grown and milled flour, at The Flour Barrel (I get great flour for making sourdough bread here) or stop by The Stone Store for a great selection of healthy food and supplements. Market Fresh and Goodness Me are great for fresh organic and local produce and a variety of local and health-oriented products.

Eating Out

The passion for local food extends right through the restaurants in Guelph with so many fantastic places featuring local food. Borealis is a great neighborhood restaurant with a map featuring all their local vendors and demonstrating their commitment to sourcing local food. Enjoy the pizza at Bread Bar with the most perfect crust or try one of their seasonally inspired menu items. Miijidaa, which means “let’s eat” in the Ojibway language, aims to offer “a very modern take on, and mélange of, our northern gastronomic history.”  

If you are more in the mood for Pub style atmosphere, head to The Woolwich Arms or known by locals as “The Wooly” where your pub favourites feature local specialties. I often dream about their Nachos featuring Barrie’s Asparagus Farm tortilla chips mmm… Cadence is a great little vegan spot and Guelph boasts two cold pressed juice shops – Galt Juice Company (named for Guelph’s founder) and [re]Fresh.

2. NATURE AT YOUR DOORSTEP

Royal Recreation Trail

Now that you are fuelled up on great local delicacies, there are so many great places to explore in the natural environment nearby and Guelphites take great advantage of the hiking trails, bike routes and conservation areas nearby. Grand River Parks and Conservation Areas will get you started with great places for hiking, swimming, kayaking and more. There are hiking trails both in the city and off the beaten path to accommodate a variety of skill levels and interests. The rivers that run through the heart of the city have great trails alongside that are used for walking, biking and commuting!

McCrae Bridge

Right in the heart of the city you can rent a canoe or kayak at the Boathouse and take a paddle to explore Guelph’s historic bridges or paddle a few minutes upstream and forget you are in the middle of a city at all! And when you are done you can grab an ice-cream at the Boathouse; look out for local Blue Water Creamery’s delicious vegan ice-cream. For a healthier boost with your vegan ice cream try “Golden Milk” made with coconut and turmeric.

3. SPORTS OPPORTUNITIES

When I moved to Guelph I couldn’t believe how many of the people we met played sports recreationally. Whether you curl, golf, lawn bowl, play ultimate frisbee, volleyball, beach volleyball, softball, frisbee golf, ice-skate, skateboard or hockey, there are opportunities available. Ask anyone you meet and they will tell you what they or their friends play! These teams are as much about social community as they are about being active and many teams go out together after. The University of Guelph makes their facilities available to teams from the community, for what I affectionately call “intramurals for grownups.”  It’s the perfect mix of physical and social wehlness after work or on the weekends and playing on a softball team continues to be a highlight for our family in the summer.

4. WEHLNESS IN BUSINESS

Guelph has a long history as a hub for agriculture and sustainability, so it’s not surprising that it’s becoming a hub for business leaders and entrepreneurs who want to make the world a better place through business.

Several of those companies are in the health and wellness space like Lucky Iron Fish and Cupanion or The Neighbourhood Group, a certified “B Corp” that operates MiijidaaBorealis and The Wooly Pub. Each of the restaurants in The Neighbourhood Group is committed to sourcing local food and championing its producers and they try to do good in all they do whether it’s how they treat and pay their employees, to caring for the environment or reducing food waste (following a recent study and after implementing some changes, they were able to reduce waste from 1.3 pounds per guest to 0.7 pounds per guest, and still improving). In serving about 7,000 people per week, they are able to set an inspiring example in the community!

5. PEOPLE LOVE LIVING IN GUELPH

Speed River

Whether it’s the slower pace, the friendly residents or the opportunities to be active and eat well, people that live in Guelph love living in Guelph – myself included! What could be better for wellness than living in a place where everyone loves to live?!

SUPPORT FOR LIVING WEHL

For more healthy ideas and inspiration to live well in your city and to share your ideas with others, join us on Wehl!      

For me, Wehl helps me to realize the impact of the choices I’m already making for my health and inspires me to continue trying new things and making adjustments to my lifestyle. Wehl gives me a place to hold myself accountable (if I posted about it, I better keep it up!) I appreciate the positive culture where perfection and a glossy image is not what’s valued but it’s about people making everyday choices for wellness and encouraging each other to live better. I hope you will join me on Wehl so we can inspire and support each other to live Wehl!

Join Me on Wehl. Let’s support each other to live Wehl! You can sign up for free at wehl.com and you can follow me @allison

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