Ontario Reformatory Heritage Conservation District Study

Guelph Reformatory District

About the study

The City of Guelph is conducting a heritage conservation district study for the Ontario Reformatory area of Guelph.

The Ontario Reformatory or “OR” opened in 1911 and served as an innovative correctional facility for the first half of the 20th century. From 1970 through to its decommissioning in 2001, parts of the Reformatory site were repurposed and operated as the provincially run Guelph Correctional Centre.

In 2016, Infrastructure Ontario indicated the Province of Ontario’s intention to sell the property. In preparation for the future property sale, Council approved a heritage designation by-law for 785 York Road in 2021 and also directed staff to initiate a heritage conservation district study for the Ontario Reformatory area.

Community engagement

We encourage the community to follow this project. Please visit the engagement page to ask questions, post comments, watch recordings of public open houses, and learn about future opportunities to provide feedback.

Project phases

This project is divided into two phases. Each will include a mix of technical and engagement tasks:

Phase 1: Heritage Conservation District Study

We will assess the historical, design and contextual value of the study area; identify contributing and non-contributing properties and resources; review the existing policy framework in the area; and define boundaries for the cultural heritage landscape. Phase 1 also includes community engagement to help the project team further understand the community’s experience of the area, and to inform the proposed Heritage Conservation District boundaries.

The study area consists of the lands south of York Road, west of Watson Parkway South, north of Stone Road East and east of the Guelph Junction Railway tracks on the west side of the Eramosa River.

The detailed map shows the study boundary and locates highlight features within the Ontario Reformatory cultural heritage landscape such as buildings, stone walls, bridges, ponds and the quarry area.

Map of study area (PDF)Detailed map of study area and highlight features

Phase 2: Heritage Conservation District Plan

Based on the outcomes of Phase 1 and Council’s approval, we will build on the recommendations of the study. The plan will provide guidelines for managing change in ways that highlight the distinct character of the area.

For more information

Stephen Robinson
Senior Heritage Planner
Planning Services
519-837-5616 extension 2496
[email protected]


Ontario Reformatory

Ontario Reformatory, c,1930 Courtesy of Guelph Museums (1977.33.1)

Entrance to Ontario Reformatory

Entrance to Ontario Reformatory, c.1929 Courtesy of Guelph Museums (1991.32.5)