To my surprise and a bit to my dismay, when I bought my first house it was not in The Ward. I always thought I would end up there because I believe it’s a great neighbourhood to buy property in terms of value and personality.
When my parents moved to Guelph, shortly after moving to Canada, they purchased a home on Stevenson Street. I only lived there until I was 5 or 6, but I still consider myself as someone who grew up in the neighbourhood. Mico Valeriote Park was my stomping ground and it was a hub for the Polish community (in addition to the large Italian community).
My sister purchased her first home on Alice St., where I lived in her basement apartment for most of my 20’s. When it was time to move out of the basement, I moved to Wheeler Avenue until I moved out of province.
Shortly after I returned to Guelph, my husband and I began searching for our first home. Naturally, I had the Ward in my sights. I had a price point and a stipulation to be within walking distance of downtown. There are many reasons why I thought I’d buy my first and subsequent properties in the Ward, but value for money and the amazing community personality were my main two.
The number one reason why I love The Ward is its community. It’s truly one of those neighbourhoods where people watch out for one another. They respect each other’s privacy and the right to the enjoyment of their property. The sense of community that I feel at parties hosted by my friends in The Ward is amazing, as evidenced by the numerous neighbours and young families that come together on those occasions.
This leads me to the second reason I love the Ward; the amazing indoor and outdoor recreational activities. There are many walking, running and biking trails; most notably the Royal Recreation Trail and its parks, including Lyons Park, York Road Park, and Eramosa Park. I also enjoy the community gardens and little free libraries scattered throughout the neighbourhood.
The Ward also boasts a great arts scene. One of my favourite Guelph art programs includes the “Open Field Collective”; a collection of art exhibits on residential lawns which can be found at 64 Toronto St., 60 McTague St., 116 Johnston St., and 30 Brockville Ave. The Ward is also home to “Art in The Ward”, Ed- Video and Studio 404. I must also mention the Guelph Little Theatre that puts on amazing plays throughout their season.
Architecture is another great aspect of the Ward. Some beautiful buildings include the Holy Protection Mother of God Ukrainian Church (St. Mary’s), Tytler School, St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church on Short St., Sacred Heart School and Church as well as many other Churches, homes, and art exhibits. If you’re interested in Guelph architecture, you should check out the “Ward One Walking Tour”. The self-guided tour information can be found here.
If you’re from Guelph and have attended weddings, stag and does, or conferences, there’s a good chance that you have been inside the Italian Canadian Club, The Polish Community Hall, or the Red Chevron Club. These halls offer great value and a great experience… and if you live in the Ward, you can walk home after the event!
There are also awesome businesses that add flavour and personality to the Ward. The Cafe Greek Garden, Na Ha Thais, The Guelph Grotto, The Ward Skate Park, Delicately Yours, Royal City Brewery, Robinson’s Flowers, York Road Kitchen, Elizabeth Street Eatery, and Laz A Catering… just to name a few.
The last point, and from a real estate perspective – maybe the most important, is the value that you can get in the Ward. The lot sizes available in The Ward are unheard of elsewhere in Guelph. The homes are generally older and, if you have the time to put a little work into updating, you can create equity.
Value is also evident in the revitalization of the neighbourhood. It began with the old Len’s Mill Store being rejuvenated into The Mill Lofts. Now we see the Old W.C. Woods factory being turned into the MetalWorks Condos, not to mention all of the condos being developed on the Wyndham/Wellington corridor. Most exciting to me is the development happening in the interior of the Ward, including The Biltmore Towns and 120 Huron.
I can understand that the Ward is not for everyone; some people don’t like the proximity to downtown and see potential problems in older homes. I see a vibrant loving community, filled with great architecture, art, businesses, outdoor and indoor recreational activities; and most importantly great people.