Take a Walk Through History at Woodlawn Memorial Park

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With a history spanning over 100 years, Woodlawn Memorial Park has watched Guelph grow into the city it is today. As a Guelph landmark, the team at Woodlawn Memorial Park believes it is important to celebrate and share the history of this great community with visitors. With the support of our dedicated volunteers, Charlotte Mackie and Judy Steele, we are able to offer public walking tours that will give you the opportunity to take a trip back and time and learn more about a piece of Guelph’s history.

Charlotte Mackie has been a volunteer at Woodlawn for many years. Starting as a secretary at Woodlawn in 1986, Charlotte has since retired but continues to volunteer at Woodlawn. As a genealogist and historian, Charlotte dedicates her time to helping research and develop our historical walking tours, including the Mayor’s Tour. Conducting the research necessary to organize a historical walking tour is no easy task, but someone has to do it!

Charlotte came up with the idea for a Mayor’s Tour after finding an article about the Guelph Mayors in the July 20th, 1927 Centennial Edition of the Guelph Evening Mercury and Advertiser. Building on this article, the Genealogy Society had recorded and indexed all of the monuments present at Woodlawn Cemetery during that time. Using this index and the dates of death listed on the monument register, Charlotte located each burial and cross referenced these with our burial register.

The next step was to research microfilms of Guelph newspapers at the Guelph Public Library and to copy the obituary or funeral notice for each mayor. It was through these that Charlotte gathered the information needed to write biographies for the 53 mayors that are interred in the Woodlawn Cemetery. You can find these in our tour brochure. During her research, Charlotte discovered that there are additional Guelph mayor burial sites located in the United States, Manitoba, Marymount, St. Mary’s and in St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Guelph.

The Mayor’s Tour was the first walking tour that was held at Woodlawn Memorial Park, taking place on July 12, 1988. Due to it’s success, we’ve held walking tours almost yearly since that time. What is interesting to see is how technology has changed since we first held the tour all those years ago. When conducting the research necessary to organize these tours in the past, our volunteers had to spend copious amounts of time flipping through microfilm documents. Today, the advent of the internet has helped our volunteers access a wider range of information more efficiently, helping us make our tours as accurate and informative as possible.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out our Mayor’s Tour, we highly suggest you add it to your summer activity list. If you have and are interested in a different tour, you’ll be happy to know that we have many ideas for future tours, including ones focused on past Woodlawn Memorial Park keepers, Physicians & Healers, Interesting & Famous Women, and Brewers and Innkeepers to name a few.

To learn more about the history of Woodlawn Memorial Park or to take a tour, visit: https://www.woodlawnmemorialpark.ca/guelph-memorial-park-family-events/guelph-memorial-park-walking-tour/

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