Historical Context


            This postcard is one of many in the George Sleeman Archival collection. The building on the front of the post card is the first house in Guelph, built in 1827 and owned by John Gault (Shelley, 2016). The house was originally located beside the Speed River on Macdonell street, Guelph (Search Term Record: Priory, 2016). It was known as the Priory in Guelph and then transformed into St. George Canadian Pacific Railroad Station (Shelley, 2016). However, most people, even during its time as the train station refer to it as the Priory. Since this building was known as the Canadian Provincial Railroad station of Guelph between 1887 and 1911. However, the picture was taken around the 1900, as the building would have looked like this, with the overgrown vines on the building, from the colour of the plants around the house we can assume that it was taken in the spring or the summer.

            The train station was used as transportation of food, clothing and other items, as well as people. As the first intercity transportation system introduced to Guelph it would have had a major impact on their city lives. The people of Guelph could be introduced to new foods, clothing and can sell products at a greater scale. This would have been specifically useful for George Sleeman to expand his beer brewing company even farther.

            Although the postcard itself may be hard to tie to Sleeman, the Priory building has some notable connection to him. In 1911, the house was beginning to decay and was proposed to be torn down. George Sleeman proposed to relocate the Priory to Riverside Park after it was suggested to be demolished. However, the cost to move the structure was too expensive for the council. So, Sleeman purchased the Priory and persuaded the Canadian Provincial Railway to allow it to be moved. However, the building was deconstructed and moved but never rebuilt until after world war two when only part of the original wood was available. (Shelley, 2016).

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