Downtown Tour Gives New Students a Taste of Guelph

Get to know your home away from home

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Matthew Pecore

There’s more to student life than the night life, says Matthew Pecore, local affairs commissioner at U of G’s Central Student Association (CSA). That’s why he’s organizing a tour of downtown Guelph Sept. 5 as part of O-Week to show new students what the city has to offer.

“There’s more to having fun than just going to a bar,” says Pecore, adding that the farmers’ market and other points of interest will be featured on the tour. Students will also get a crash course in public transit, touring the city on a chartered city bus and visiting the new transit hub.

For many U of G students, Guelph is their home away from home, and it’s important for them to make the most of their time here by getting involved in as many activities as possible, both on and off campus. “It just enriches your university experience that much more because you’re not just at the university, you’re part of this bigger city, this wider community,” says Pecore.

Some of the local businesses on the tour include Hush Salon and Spa, The Works Gourmet Burger Bistro and Wyndham Art Supply, all of which are located on Wyndham Street.  “We believe strongly that local businesses need to connect with local consumers,” says Robert Murray, business success liaison at Intrigue Media, which helped co-ordinate the tour with the CSA and downtown retailers.

Quebec Street

Aside from visiting local businesses, the tour will also introduce new students to the Guelph Public Library (GPL). “It’s a great place to study,” says Pecore. Even as e-books and e-readers gain popularity, there are still those who prefer the feel of a book, says Gwynne Tucker, who works at the main branch of the GPL, located at 100 Norfolk St.

The library is also a great source of free entertainment, she adds. “It’s the best bang for your buck in town.” Students can save money by borrowing books, CDs and DVDs. Library cards are free for Guelph residents. To get a library card, bring a piece of identification such as a driver’s licence, a U of G student card and proof of address (residence or off campus).

The GPL also runs a 20-something book club once a month at a local pub, where members can meet to discuss their latest read. Library staff can help students with research both online and in person. The GPL is also one of the few libraries in Canada that provides online access to Live Homework Help, offering one-on-one tutoring in math or science to students in elementary school, college or university.

If you’re into arts and culture, check out the Macdonald Stewart Arts Centre (MSAC), which hosts a variety of events, including a monthly public art event called Fourth Fridays. “Anyone can participate by creating an event or going to the events,” says Aidan Ware, co-ordinator of education and development at MSAC. “It is focused on the downtown, aimed at creating artistic density, happenings and revitalization.”

She also organizes monthly “photo mobs” in which groups of photographers wielding cameras and cell phones show up unexpectedly at an event or venue downtown. “There’s an element of intrigue to it,” says Ware. “People aren’t expecting it.” The “mobarazzi’s” photos are then posted on Facebook, Flickr and Twitter.

Pecore hopes that 50 to 100 students will take the downtown tour, which will be led by members of the CSA executive, giving students the opportunity to get to know their representatives. “It’s always been one of our main goals: getting out there, being accessible,” says Pecore. If you’re interested in participating or volunteering, contact Pecore at csalocal@uoguelph.ca.