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Guelph, Ontario (Canada)

Last modified: 2018-07-05 by rob raeside
Keywords: guelph | ontario | canada |
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[Guelph, Ontario] image by Peter Orenski, 17 November 2012
based on research and information provided by James Croft and Kevin Harrington


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Guelph

Guelph is a city in southwestern Ontario, Canada. Known as "The Royal City", Guelph is roughly 28 km east of Kitchener and 100 km west of Toronto. It is the seat of Wellington County, but is politically independent of it.


Current Flag

Text and image(s) from Canadian City Flags, Raven 18 (2011), courtesy of the North American Vexillological Association, which retains copyright. Image(s) by permission of Eugene Ipavec.

Design

The flag of the City of Guelph is a horizontal bicolour, red over white. In the upper hoist is the head of a Hanoverian horse in white, facing the hoist. In the lower hoist is an “ancient”, or open, crown of three visible points, in red. Both figures are outlined in black, with black details.
John M. Purcell, Canadian City Flags, Raven 18, 2011

Symbolism

The colours come from the city’s coat of arms and allude to the national colours of Canada. The horse head and crown are simplified depictions of the horse and crowns on the arms, which symbolize the royal family of Hanover, descended from the Guelfs of Germany and Italy. John Galt, the settler who cut down the first tree to found Guelph in 1827, gave it that name because the king of the United Kingdom at the time was George IV, a member of the Brunswick-Hanover line, and hence a descendant of the Guelphs (as the British spell the name). Guelph is therefore known as Canada’s “Royal City”. Moreover, on 24 April 1879 Mayor George Howard declared the municipality to be a lawful city, after which Alderman MacMillan raised the royal standard on the flag-staff of the speakers’ platform, symbolizing the “Royal City”.
John M. Purcell, Canadian City Flags, Raven 18, 2011

Selection

On 20 November 1993 the Canadian Heraldic Authority registered an earlier grant of arms from the English Garter King of Arms (1977) and granted a new flag and badge.
John M. Purcell, Canadian City Flags, Raven 18, 2011 

Designer

Darrel Kennedy, a resident of Guelph; he later became Assiniboine Herald, Canadian Heraldic Authority.
John M. Purcell, Canadian City Flags, Raven 18, 2011

More about the flag

The flag is not a banner of arms in the traditional sense, but uses key elements of the arms in its design. Because Guelph also has a true banner of arms flag (see below), which represents the city’s government, this flag is known as the “citizens’ flag”. Although adopted in 1993, it was finally first waved (by hand) on 24 October 2001 by former mayor Norm Jary and raised at an official function for the first time on 23 April 2002 at City Hall during the city’s 175th anniversary in the presence of the lieutenant governor of Ontario.
John M. Purcell, Canadian City Flags, Raven 18, 2011

This flag is that of the citizens of Guelph. There is also an official flag for the mayor.
Peter Allen Devries, 16 July 2004


Banner of Arms

[Guelph, Ontario] 1:2 image by Eugene Ipavec
Source: Canadian City Flags, Raven 18

The city’s second flag, still used as the governmental flag, is the banner of arms created as a result of the grant of arms from the English Garter King of Arms, for which Darrel Kennedy was the agent between the city and Windsor Herald at the College of Arms. A carving was produced in 1977 by Eric Barth, assisted by local historians, for the city’s sesquicentennial. However, it had been based on preliminary art and omitted material from the final blazon. The grant of arms was issued on 8 May 1978 and the Letters Patent were presented to the city on 28 September 1978 by York Herald. A number of heraldic errors in the first arms were corrected. The new arms retain the white horse, but it is now of the Hanoverian breed; the green bars are reduced in width to stripes; and in the white field at the top are two ancient red crowns, with a third centred in the shield’s lower third, all alluding to royal connections. The banner of arms places the charges from the shield on a white flag that is nearly square, 10:9. The colours date from 1879 and derive from the arms of the County of Kent, England. 
John M. Purcell, Canadian City Flags, Raven 18, 2011


Banner of Arms Variant

[Guelph, Ontario] 1:2 image by Eugene Ipavec
Source: Canadian City Flags, Raven 18

A variant of the banner of arms is also sometimes used, having been approved only by the city council. This flag, in 1:2 proportions, has GUELPH and CANADA inscribed in black serif letters on either side of the lower crown. Hence, Guelph has the unique distinction of having three city flags in use simultaneously.
John M. Purcell, Canadian City Flags, Raven 18, 2011

The flag for the City of Guelph, Ontario can be seen at http://mayorsblog.guelph.ca/2008/11/11/rembrance-day-recognizing-service, where it is described as the City of Guelph flag.
Valentin Poposki, 9 July 2011


Former Flag

[Guelph, Ontario] 1:2 image by Eugene Ipavec
Source: Canadian City Flags, Raven 18

A 21 July 1965 article in the Daily Mercury cited noted vexillologist Rev. D. Ralph Spence’s comment that Guelph’s (first) city flag was a “horrible city flag”. In response to that Verne McIlwraith wrote that while the flag was originally his idea, which he had thought a good one, he acknowledged that it had been “shot down” by Spence’s remark. Nevertheless, it remained in use until 1977.

The flag, in proportions of roughly 2:3, has a medium blue field with the city’s first coat of arms edged in white, about half the flag’s width, in the centre. Beneath the arms is GUELPH – CANADA in white, running two-thirds the length of the flag. The arms show a simple white shield with two green horizontal bars, one in the lower half of the shield’s upper third, and the other in the upper half of the shield’s lower third. Two narrow white horizontal stripes separate the green bars from a red field that makes up the centre third of the shield. On the red field is a white horse, galloping toward the hoist. On the left is a woodsman (John Galt) holding an axe over his shoulder. On the right is Britannia holding a cornucopia with assorted fruit and leaves. Against her right leg leans an oval shield, bearing the flag of Britain used in 1827. The crest has what was earlier, and erroneously, thought to be the Guelphic royal crown, to show a connection to the British royal family, topped by a lion headed toward the hoist, right front paw raised, looking toward the viewer. In reality, it was the royal crest for the sovereign of the United Kingdom, as used in England. The heraldic ribbon is divided in three parts inscribed FIDES FIDELITAS PROGRESSIO, one word on each part. It is not known when the earliest flag was first used, but the original coat of arms dates to 1879.
John M. Purcell, Canadian City Flags, Raven 18, 2011
 
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