For Immediate Release - May 8, 2019
Storytelling Tours – Season Launch Friday May 17
“I like to think of it as live theatre with no overhead. An actor reciting text while nature takes care of the sounds, lighting and scenery,” says Jay. “Live theatre with no carbon footprint. Personal, intimate storytelling tours featuring unusual tales, told where they happened.”
JayWalking Guelph storytelling tours run May through September. There are currently two tours to choose from:The Brooklyn Tour which leaves the Boathouse Tea Room every Tuesday at 7pm and The Unfortunate Man Tour which begins at The Red Brick Cafe every Friday at 7pm.
The Brooklyn Tour explores the area between the Gordon Street Bridge and Gow’s Bridge including the neighbourhood in and around Royal City Park. “I spent the last two summers down by the river in that neighbourhood with Backyard Theatre at McCrae House. I fell in love with the area, its architecture and history.” During the Brooklyn Tour patrons are introduced to the Town Lattice Bridge, a building which was once home to the Radial Railway, the House of Heads and other unique masonry work by Matthew Bell, river lore, and yes, plenty of scandalous stories about abductions, weddings, and life in the late 1800s.
Friday evenings, it’s the Unfortunate Man Tour that recounts the story of William Harvey who in 1889 was hanged at the Wellington County Courthouse. This walking tour departs from The Red Brick Cafe and patrons stroll up and down historic Douglas Street. We see where William Harvey worked: The World Publishing Company, operated by Guelph’s first millionaire James Walter Lyon. North is St George’s Church, where William Harvey was a well-respected superintendent of the Sunday School. Look south and you can see where Bond’s Hardware store used to be, the place where Harvey bought the pistol. And finally, across the street, the Wellington County Courthouse, where he was hanged.
The story of William Harvey gripped the Dominion of Canada and for a time all eyes were on Guelph, The Homewood Retreat, and William’s only surviving son, young Willie.
“People are still divided regarding the guilt of William Harvey, dubbed ‘The Unfortunate Man’ by The Globe in 1889,” says Jay. “I’m going to try to lay out the story as best I can and let you decide.”
With over 40 years experience in theatre, Jay is a seasoned storyteller. He was introduced to Guelph history through the Guelph Arts Council’s Historic Walking Tour, with which he still volunteers. “The Arts Council’s historic walks feature architecture. They were started by Professor Gordon Couling in reaction to what he saw as the decimation of local architecture when in the 1970s downtown banks destroyed their limestone structures. Guelph was about to celebrate 150 years (1977) and citizens rallied around these walks and lectures. They were immensely popular at the time and the fact that 40 years later they’re still going strong speaks to the interest in Guelph history. Jay now hopes to dig deeper and recount some of the more scandalous tales that lie buried beneath the bedrock.
Tours are limited to 12, keeping the experience personal. Admission is $20 and includes an ice cream at the Boathouse (Brooklyn Tour) or a gift from the Red Brick Cafe (Unfortunate Man Tour).
“Those who go on the Brooklyn Tour may crave sweets after their walk. Those who take part in the story of William Harvey may prefer a strong beverage after their experience,” says Jay.
Please note, these stories are not for children.
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