A Short Account of Guelph’s Earliest Fairs
Publication Date: 1964
The earliest Guelph Fair took place on August 12, 1827, but was not very successful. The second one held here on the first Monday in May 1828 was a little better than the previous one. At that time half a dozen cattle owned by Lazarus Parkinson of Eramosa were offered for sale. They were purchased quickly. It was during that fair that a near-riot took place between the old country portion of the inhabitants and the 'Native' population (those who had arrived in this area earlier than those newly immigrated). The reason for the fight was that the old countrymen contended that they were being charge extra prices by the Natives. During the fight a horse belonging to Mr. Absolom Shade of Galt was mutilated. Several 'Yankees' – or members of the Native population were beaten mercilessly. Many of the participants lost nearly all they owned in resultant lawsuits.
In spite of this poor beginning fairs were held in town semi-annually, in May and November. The township early took the lead in cattle raising. In 1834, Rowland Wingfield imported and sold Shorthorns. Other famous cattle, sheep and hog importers and breeders were John Howitt, Mr. Arkell, Mr. Iles, F.W. Stone, and Thomas McCrae.