2023/01/15 – Guelph Sub (Guelph)

Good morning from east Guelph. Today I’ll be paralleling the Guelph Subdivision, otherwise known as the GO Kitchener Line to most folks. I’ll be heading down it to the City’s west side. Let’s go.

West of Watson Parkway, there’s good woodland and ravine lands north of the tracks, but no formal trail. Lots of thick brush to push through. Eventually you get to the back of a future residential subdivision, which tells me there’s a trail opportunity in the woodland buffer.

You get to a nice peak overlooking the rails and the city’s east side. Prime parkland lookout. Then there’s more pushing through brush until you meet a well worn footpath behind some flags for the woodland dripline, and it leads to the end of the aptly named Cityview Drive.

Finally, some formal parkland / open space. A trail leading from Cityview Drive takes you between the tracks and stormwater management ponds outletting to Hadati Creek. It doesn’t go all the way to Victoria Road though, you’re led onto the road to detour.

West of Victoria, I didn’t think there was a path, but saw one at the toe of the rail berm east of Stevenson. Must investigate further another time. Grove Street climbs north of the tracks until you get to the infamous 100 Steps (130 actually, I counted), that lead you back down to Elizabeth.

Going into downtown, the line has a complex crossing: two roads, the Speed River (plus associated dam structure and bridge deck), and Guelph Junction Railway’s Goderich Subdivision. Nice bridge that also marks where John Galt settled / took over of the land for Guelph.

One of the best things about this regional rail line is that it properly takes you into the heart of the city’s downtown. Rail, local bus and regional buses meet at a singular hub. Historical buildings, lively businesses, and a public square are all a stone’s throw.

There’s a handy accessible path from City Hall, through the parkade via an elevator, to the bridge crossing Gordon / Norfolk. Takes you to Kent Street, directly adjacent to the tracks.

Kent used to be my old commuter walking route. Fond memories of sunrises here. It squeezes the tracks to Glasgow, then there’s room to breathe. Former yard space west of Edinburgh has become a commercial park and an homage to the railway.

Guelph has it’s own Junction neighbourhood, this one being defined by a mainline intersected by two industrial spurs to the north and southwest. Not much to report west of Alma, other than poor and untapped connections to local parks.

Onwards in a relatively straight line along the back of Margaret Greene Park. Excellent large area. On the other side of the tracks is West Willow Creek. Two chunks of parkland, each flanked by medium-density housing, but no connection over the tracks for 1.3km. This is a problem.

Noise berms flank the last stretch of the line westwards out of town. Elmira Road is going to mark the end of pursuing the mainline through Guelph. I’m going to head south and finish up this walk paralleling a spur.

Around Fife Road is where Canadian National’s Fergus Spur enters Guelph from Cambridge. Not too much to see as it rises above a farmer’s field and over Imperial Road.

Another long gap between crossings, this time exacerbated by an intersecting highway. Makes for a long connection between trails along the Speed River, new residential areas north of the spur, and upcoming development along Silvercreek Parkway.

Relatively new park / flood control facility in a triangle bounded by Silvercreek, the mainline and the spur. That said, there’s an informal footpath into it, definitely not accessible. A little further and you get to the junction point at Alma. That’s about it for today.

Final parting shots along the mainline.

Date: January 15, 2023
Length: 18.9 km
Type: Railway / Freeway

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