Guelph Day 2: Singing, Skating, Scavengering

Today was an epic day- feels like 3 days all in one!

We started out at Central Public School, a lovely little school right at the top of what is known as “Catholic Hill”. In the photos you’ll see the huge cathedral that overlooks town- the school is across the street. This school is K-6, about 120 students. Every morning, the day starts with the singing of O Canada in a combo of French and English, as an instrumental and vocal accompaniment plays over the PA. That immediately got us all going “wow THIS is why we are exchanging- things are done differently here!”.

Our concert was really well received- the audience was amazing, and sang along joyously when we taught them “Lift Up Your Voice” and “Shine A Light on a Child”. (and yep, we left Shine buttons there for them.) 5 singers from GYS joined us too- they were amazing good sports about instantly learning our choreography and getting dragged along with us 🙂 Fab fab young people- so open. To be honest, even though we sang well, singers kept YAWNING big huge embarrassing (to me) yawns throughout the show!!!! ACK! So I know there is some jet lag going on.

Then we got changed into our winter wear- and Guelph parents have been SO amazing about shuttling our gear and garment bags around (when they heard that we would rent a bus, they insisted that they shuttle our stuff so that singers could walk and see the city by foot)- then we walked down Catholic Hill to the Guelph City Hall where the outdoor rink is. Imagine this:  GYS families found skates and helmets in all of our sizes and skate preferences, so that we could skate outside! It turned out to be a great time for all: Barry was having a ball skating up a storm, and our kids were brave about skating, even when for some, it was a brand new experience. Many had never skated outdoors before, a couple had never ever skated at all! How wonderful to experience a real Canadian winter activity that we miss out on living on the Wet Coast. The Mayor of Guelph dropped by for photos and to give us pins. Hot chocolates were delivered to the rink by our parent hosts- yum.

We walked a short ways to a beautiful little mall- yes I used the word “beautiful” and “mall” in the same sentence! It is a glass roofed enclosed historic street- the acoustics were stunning inside and they actually turned off the ambient music for us so that we could perform a couple pieces there! I had no idea that it would be so terrific to sing there, or we would have planned for more. We also ate our lunches there. Lots of comments from kids about how their families packed them nice big yummy lunches!

We walked from there back up the hill to Guelph Civic Museum where we had a slide show and docent explain about the history of Guelph. Vancouver just celebrated 125 years anniversary. Tri-Cities is 100 this year. Guelph by comparison is 186 years old! And it shows in the gorgeous limestone and brick Victorian style buildings everywhere! Picture Victorian homes- stone- with big verandas and looking like they could be in a magazine. Cost? $350,000 for a most desirable part of town. Read it and weep people. Anyway, the kids had fun scavengering around the museum. Did you know the Sleeman family- yep Sleeman Brewery, but it was originally SilverCreek Brewery- put a lot of money and infrastructure into the town. Old man Sleeman was Mayor at one time. Also, the Bell Piano and Organ factory was based here, as was Biltmore Hats. (Funny- Biltmore Hats are featured next to the Guitar store downtown! All you singer-songwriters will find that makes sense.)

THEN… we walked or got rides to the home of WW1 Doctor/ Poet John McCrae. That was terrific. Our docent was wonderful. They fed us all chunks of hard tack- the same stuff the soldiers ate. Imagine eating a hard, dry salt dough Christmas ornament. Just like that. But I think we were all hungry because it was like “mmmm hard tack! crunch crunch crunch!” They’d also made us a big vat of hot chocolate so while we drank and munched cozy-ed up on the floor of the home, with WW1 memorabilia all around us, we had time to learn about conditions in the trenches in WW1, and bits of info about John McCrae. Did you know that they have on file there, 37 different musical settings of his poem?!Our kids were truly engaged and asked intelligent questions, and made good connections. It was a valuable learning opportunity.

I have to tell you how responsible your kids have been today. Helpful at every turn, looking out for one another, nice manners, respectful, not a whine or complaint when we have been out and about, and it’s been a busy day. So pat yourselves on the back parents!!! Your kids are just wonderful to tour with!

Lots of photos taken today- some cute scenes. Angela and I will try to get them up somewhere asap.

Cheers! ~Diana