Guelph Historical Society in The Beginning

Author: Unknown

Publication Date: 1966

Edited: 2021


Contributed by: Miss Phyllis Higinbotham (Y.M.C.A. Board Room, Guelph, February 22, 1924).

The following gentlemen met here his evening to discuss the formation of a Historical Society for Guelph and Wellington County - Sheriff A. S. Allan, Messrs. Roswell Goldie, William Tytler, R. L. Mackinnon, David Allan, Alister MacAllister, Harry Howitt, William A. Cowan, Ross Alker, Austin Duignan and Norman C. Wallace.

It was the general opinion of those present that an organization should be formed, and it was moved by Mr. R. L. Mackinnon and seconded by Mr. Harry Howitt that a committee of five be appointed to call a public meeting for the organization of a Historical Society; to prepare as much information as possible to present to that gathering, and to nominate a slate of officers to be submitted to the public meeting. This was carried and moved by Mr. Tytler, seconded by Mr. Cowan, that the following compose that committee - Sheriff Allan as Chairman; as well as members, Roswell Goldie, Norman C. Wallace, David Allan, and Harry Howitt. The meeting adjourned to the call of the Committee Chairman.


City Hall, Guelph, May 9, 1924.

A public meeting was called by Sheriff Allan for 9 P.M. tonight in the council chamber of the City Hall. The following citizens were present: - Miss Keating, Sheriff Allan, Roswell Goldie, Alister MacAllister, William Laidlaw, Patrick Kerwin, J. Innes MacIntosh, J. Ranson Howitt, William A. Cowan, David Allan, and Norman C. Wallace. Sheriff Allan occupied the Chair and N. C. Wallace acted as Secretary. The report of the committee appointed at the meeting on February 22nd last was presented, and with some amendments was adopted clause by clause as follows:


  1. That the Wellington Historical Society be formed. – Carried.
  2. That the officers be one or more Honorary Presidents, a President, a Secretary and a Treasurer. – Carried.
  3. That the executive committee consist of the officers and three other
    members (After considerable discussion, this original statement was amended and subsequently moved by Mr. P. Kerwin, seconded by Mr. D. Allan).
    1. Amendment: That the executive committee be composed of the officers, and three other members, and that the Executive be empowered to form an advising committee, with representatives on it from the various municipalities in the country. –Carried.
  4. That the membership fee be one dollar annually. –Carried.
  5. That the preparation of a constitution and by-laws be left to the forthcoming executive. –Carried.
    (It was moved by P. Kerwin, seconded by J. R. Howitt, that the Warden of the County of Wellington for the time being, be ex-officio, one of the Honorary Presidents.)

The nomination committee reported that they had induced Mr. R. Goldie, after much pressure had been brought to bear on him, to allow his name to be proposed for the Presidency, and that Mr. David Allan had consented to stand for the Vice-Presidency, but that they had not been able to secure a Secretary or Treasurer.

After several nominations and many withdrawals, the following slate was proposed:


President Mr. Roswell Goldie
Vice-President Mr. David Allan
Secretary Dr. Norman C. Wallace
Treasurer Mr. J. Ranson Howitt
Executive Committee Mr. William Laidlaw; Mr. P. Kerwin; Mr. W. A. Cowan

*Honorary Presidents included: (1) The Warden of Wellington County, (2) Mr. William Tytler, (3) Sheriff Allan, and (4) Mr. George Sleeman.


On motion of Mr. R. Goldie, seconded by Mr. J. R. Howitt, the slate was adopted.


Sheriff Allan, on the election of officers, then vacated the chair, which was taken by the First President of the Wellington Historical society, Mr. Roswell Goldie, who was received with much enthusiasm. The new President, in a neat speech, thanked the meeting for the honour which had been conferred on him. He asked for the hearty support and co-operation of every member and promised to do all in his power to advance the interests of the Society. Goldie's desire was that every member should help to preserve the records of the early history of the county and, when opportunity occurred, to jot down interesting items, and if possible, write papers to present to meetings of our newly formed Historical Society. He hoped that, before long, the Executive would be able to secure a room in which the objects of historical interest that still remain could be preserved and in which the meetings of the Society would be held.

The President announced that the Ontario Historical Society (O.H.S.) were to hold their annual meeting this year in Kitchener, on June 24th and 25th, and that the Secretary of the O.H.S. had informed him that they were trying to arrange to hold one of their meetings in Guelph, probably on the evening of June 25th. It was moved by J. R. Howitt, seconded by P. Kerwin, that the Wellington Historical Society apply for affiliation with the Ontario Historical Society. – Carried. It was also moved by J. I. MacIntosh, seconded by D. Allan, that the executive would procure three hundred membership tickets. – Carried.

A general discussion took place in which the names of several of the old pioneers were mentioned, who could give interesting information regarding the early days of Guelph and vicinity.

The meeting adjourned at 10.30 p.m.


- N. C. Wallace, Secretary




The report of the organizing committee is omitted, as it is covered in the minutes.

There is also a fragment of minutes of the executive committee from November 26, 1924. The chief business was discussion of purchase of the wreckage of the Priory. Unfortunately, the fragment breaks off, just where it becomes interesting.


- GMS.