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Wellington County is a county located in Southwestern Ontario, Canada and is part of the Greater Golden Horseshoe. The County, made up of two towns and five townships, is predominantly rural in nature. However many of the residents in the southern part of the County commute to urban areas such as Guelph, Kitchener, Waterloo, Brampton, Mississauga, Toronto and Hamilton for employment. The northern part of the county (compromising Minto, Mapleton and Wellington North townships) is made up of mainly rural farming communities, except for a few larger towns such as Mount Forest and Arthur. According to the 2016 Census, the population of the County was 90,932.[2]

Wellington County
County of Wellington
Coat of arms of Wellington County
Coat of arms
Vision, Valour
Location of Wellington County
Location of Wellington County
Coordinates: 43°45′N 80°24′W / 43.750°N 80.400°W / 43.750; -80.400Coordinates: 43°45′N 80°24′W / 43.750°N 80.400°W / 43.750; -80.400
Country Canada
Province Ontario
County seatGuelph (independent)
 • WardenDennis Lever
 • Land2,573.26 km2 (993.54 sq mi)
 • Total90,932
 • Density35.3/km2 (91/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
Wellington County Museum in Fergus.
The original Carnegie library in Guelph.

In 2018, the Warden of the county was Dennis Lever (mayor of Puslinch Township) and there were 14 Councillors.[3] Police services are provided by the Ontario Provincial Police.[4] Schools are operated by the Upper Grand District School Board and by the Wellington Catholic District School Board.



The County is made up of seven lower-tier municipalities (in order of population):

The City of Guelph, although part of the Wellington census division, is a single-tier city, municipally independent of the County. The primary economy outside of the city consists of agriculture and aggregate mining.[5] The County is a major supplier of sand and gravel for the western part of the Greater Toronto Area.[6]



In 1837, by an Act of the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada, the District of Wellington was formed and a court house and jail in the town of Guelph were authorized.[7] The District was named after England's Duke of Wellington and its territory formed the County of Waterloo for electoral purposes.[8] The limestony county courthouse and jail in the castellated style was built in 1842-44 and was subsequently expanded.[9]

In 1849, Wellington District was abolished, and Waterloo County remained for municipal and judicial purposes.[10] The territory of the Bruce Peninsula became part of Waterloo in 1849,[11] but was later withdrawn and transferred to Bruce County in 1851.[12]

In January 1852, Waterloo County became the United Counties of Wellington, Waterloo and Grey.[13] The new county of Waterloo was withdrawn in January 1853, and the remainder was renamed the United Counties of Wellington and Grey.[14]

In January 1854, the United Counties was dissolved, and Wellington and Grey were separate counties for all purposes.[15]

Canada West in 1857. Wellington County is marked in light yellow.

Guelph was incorporated as a City in 1879 and withdrawn from the County.[16] Amaranth, East Garafraxa, East Luther and Orangeville were transferred to Dufferin County during the period 1874-1882.[17][18][19][20]

The Wellington County Jail (in Late Gothic Revival Style) and the Governor's Residence (in Georgian style) at 74 Woolwich Street were built in 1911; they were designated by the city for "historic and architectural value" and as a National Historic Site in 1983. The property is now an Ontario Court of Justice.[21]

Historic townshipsEdit

By 1881, the County had settled into its present form, with the following townships and related towns and villages:

Historic townships of Wellington County (1881)
Township Area Description Community centres
Arthur 64,494 acres (261 km²) Opened in 1835, it was named after Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington Arthur, Kenilworth and Mount Forest
Eramosa 44,482 acres (180 km²) Opened in 1821. The name is an attempt to render in English the Indian "un-ne-mo-sa", which means dog Eden Mills and Rockwood
Erin area 70,557 acres (286 km²) Opened in 1820 Erin, Hillsburgh, Mimosa
West Garafraxa 46,950 acres (190 km²) Opened in 1821. Name is believed to be from an Indian word meaning "the place of panthers." Fergus (only partially in the township), Reading, Metz and Garafraxa
Guelph Township 35,543 acres (144 km²) Opened on April 23, 1827 by John Galt on behalf of the Canada Company
West Luther 49,830 acres (202 km²) Opened in 1821 and named after the leader of the Reformation in Germany, Martin Luther. It was said that the surveyor, a Roman Catholic, having been embarrassed by the endless swamps he had encountered declared that this was "the meanest piece of country he had seen" and named it Luther for that reason Monck, Stonywood, Damascus and Arthur
Maryborough 56,728 acres (230 km²) Opened in 1840 and named after a brother of the Duke of Wellington, Baron Maryborough Drayton, Moorefield and Rothsay
Minto 69,927 acres (283 km²) Opened in 1840 and named after the Earl of Minto, a famous pro-consul in India. Settled mainly between 1861 and 1875 Harriston, Palmerston, and Clifford
Nichol 26,996 acres (109 km²) One of the townships leased by Joseph Brant under power of attorney for the Indians of the Grand River region. The Township was granted to Hon. Thomas Clark on a lease of 999 years for 3,564, but the contract was modified by the Crown. The Township was opened for settlement in 1822. Named in honour of Col Robert Nichol of Norfolk who distinguished himself in the War of 1812 and latter in political battles Elora, Fergus, Salem and Barnet
Peel 74,525 acres (302 km²) Opened in 1835 and named in honour of Sir Robert Peel. Settled mainly between 1850 and 1853 Drayton, Glenallan, Goldstone and Alma
Pilkington 28,983 acres (117 km²) Named in honour of Lieutenant Robert Pilkington (later General Pilkington) who accompanied John Graves Simcoe to Upper Canada. Pilkington acquired 20,000 acres (80 km²) of land Elora in Nichol Township
Puslinch 58,291 acres (236 km²) Named after Puslinch, Devon, Lady Colborne's home before her marriage

In 1999, seven new municipalities (Townships) were created within Wellington County through amalgamation.[20]

From "poorhouse" to museumEdit

In 1877, the County opened the Wellington County House of Industry and Refuge, or Poorhouse as it was called, on Wellington Road 18 between Fergus and Elora. Over the years, approximately 1500 deserving poor, including those who were destitute, old and infirm or suffering from disabilities were housed here. The sixty bed house for inmates was surrounded by a 30-acre "industrial" farm with a barn for livestock that produced some of the food for the 70 residents and the staff and also provided work for them. Others worked in the House itself. According to a 2009 report by the Toronto Star, "pauperism was considered a moral failing that could be erased through order and hard work". A hospital was added in 1892. A nearby cemetery has 271 plots for those who died. In 1947 the House was converted into the Wellington County Home for the Aged and in 1975 the building reopened as the Wellington County Museum and Archives.[22][23][24]

A historic plaque was erected at the museum, indicating that the "government-supported poorhouse" was "the shelter of last resort for the homeless and destitute, who traded spartan accommodations for domestic or agricultural labour".[25]


Historic population, for the County only, excluding Guelph, are as follows:

  • 2016: 90,032 (5-year population growth: 4.9%)
  • 2011: 86,672 (5-year population growth: 1.4%)
  • 2006: 85,482 (5-year population growth: 5.3%)
  • 2001: 81,143 (5-year population growth: 7.3%)
  • 1996: 75,585

Figures below are for the Wellington census division, which combines Wellington County and the City of Guelph.[2]

  • 2016 population: 222,726
  • 2016 land area: 2,660.57 km2.
  • 2016 population density: 83.7
  • 2016 total number of private dwellings: 90,846

Community involvement and awardsEdit

In October 2008, the County of Wellington was named one of Canada's Top 100 Employers by Mediacorp Canada Inc. and featured in Maclean's newsmagazine.[26] Later that month, the County was recognized as one of Waterloo Area's Top Employers and featured in the Guelph Mercury newspaper.[27]

In 2014, the County of Wellington received Best Health and Wellness Strategy at the Canadian HR Awards. This award recognizes excellence in the area of corporate health and well-being.

in 2013 (Gold), and again in 2014 (Silver), The County of Wellington received Canada's Safest Employer in the Public Sector Award. Canada's Safest Employers Awards recognize organizations from all across Canada with outstanding accomplishments in promoting the health and safety of their workers.

In 2014 (Gold), and again in 2016 (Silver), The County of Wellington received Canada's Psychological Safety Award. Canada's Safest Employer Awards introduced a new Psychological Safety Award in 2014 to recognize organizations that are committed to employee mental health and are working towards implementing the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.

The County of Wellington in Ontario, Canada, embarked on the BR+E journey beginning in 2013. Two years later, the County has reaped significant rewards with the candle on the cake represented by two BREI awards at the BREI Annual Conference in 2014.

The County of Wellington proudly received the 2015 Employer of Distinction Award at an Award Ceremony presented by the Guelph and District Human Resources Professionals Association in Guelph.

In early 2018, Alma resident Jim deBrock received the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship for his extensive volunteer work.[28]

See alsoEdit

Travel RegionEdit

Wellington County is part of the Hills of Headwaters Tourism Association and Central Counties of Ontario, two tourism related associations.

In addition to the Museum, attractions in the County recommended by users of the Tripadvisor web site include Elora Rapids, Elora Gorge Conservation Area, the Fergus Grand Theatre and the Elora Cataract Railway.[29] Popular parks with lakes for day use include Rockwood Conservation Area and Belwood Lake.[30]


  1. ^ a b "Wellington, Ontario (Code 3523) and Ontario (Code 35) (table)". 2011 Census of Population. Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
  2. ^ a b Statistics Canada
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Wellington County OPP 2017 Annual Report". The Wellington Advertiser. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Aggregate Resources Inventory of Wellington County (1999)" (PDF). Government of Ontario - Mines and Minerals Information Centre. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  7. ^ An Act erecting certain parts of the Counties of Halton and Simcoe into a new District, by the name of the District of Wellington, S.U.C. 1837 (1st Session), c. 116
  8. ^ 1837 Act, s. 28
  9. ^ . Ontario Plaques. 1 June 2019 Retrieved 22 February 2019. In 1837 the provincial legislature established the provisional District of Wellington and authorized the erection of a court house and jail at Guelph. Construction of the two structures, designed by the noted Toronto architect Thomas Young, commenced under the supervision of a committee of local magistrates. Built by William Allan of Guelph, the limestone court house is one of the few structures in Ontario executed in the castellated style reminiscent of medieval fortifications. It was erected in 1842-44 and has been expanded many times - each addition complementing the design of the original structure. An important judicial and administrative complex, the court house continues to serve this County and in 1980-81 was enlarged and extensively renovated for use as the Wellington County Administration Centre. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ An Act for abolishing the Territorial Division of Upper-Canada into Districts, and for providing for temporary Unions of Counties for Judicial and other purposes, and for the future dissolutions of such Unions, as the increase of wealth and population may require, S.C. 12 Vic., c. 78, Sch. C
  11. ^ An Act to divide the District of Huron, in the Province of Canada, and for other purposes therein mentioned, S.Prov.C. 1849, c. 96
  12. ^ An Act to make certain alterations in the Territorial Divisions of Upper Canada, S.Prov.C. 1851, c. 5, Sch. A, par. 29
  13. ^ An Act to make certain alterations in the Territorial Divisions of Upper Canada, S.Prov.C. 1851, c. 5, Sch. A and B
  14. ^ "Proclamation". Canada Gazette. 12 (3): 75. 22 January 1853.
  15. ^ "Proclamation". Canada Gazette. 13 (1): 2–3. 7 January 1854.
  16. ^ An Act to incorporate the City of Guelph, S.O. 1879, c. 41
  17. ^ An Act to separate the Town of Orangeville and certain Townships in the Counties of Wellington, Grey and Simcoe, from the said Counties, and to erect the same into the County of Dufferin, S.O. 1874 (2nd Sess.), c. 31
  18. ^ An Act to confirm certain preliminary proceedings, and make further provision for the formation of the County of Dufferin, S.O. 1880, c. 37
  19. ^ An Act to separate the Township of East Luther from the County of Wellington, and to annex the same to the County of Dufferin, S.O. 1882, c. 38
  20. ^ a b Wellington County History
  21. ^ . Canada's Historic Places. 19 December 2007 Retrieved 22 February 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  22. ^ When 'poorhouse' wasn't only an expression, The Toronto Star
  23. ^ Wellington County House of Industry
  24. ^ The Hamilton Spectator
  25. ^ "Historical Plaques of Wellington County - Plaque 17, The Wellington County House of Industry and Refuge". Historical Plaques of Wellington County. Wayne Cook. 2015. Retrieved March 13, 2017. This is the earliest surviving example of an important 19th century institution, the government-supported poorhouse. Erected in 1877, it was the shelter of last resort for the homeless and destitute, who traded spartan accommodations for domestic or agricultural labour. With changing attitudes and the introduction of alternative forms of social assistance, its function shifted to the care of the elderly and infirm, and additions were built to respond to their special needs. Closed in 1971, this building and its history illustrate the Victorian roots of the 20th-century social security system in Canada.
  26. ^ "Reasons for Selection, 2009 Canada's Top 100 Employers Competition".
  27. ^ "Guelph Mercury, "Wellington County recognized as top employer", October 18, 2008".
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^

External linksEdit