Goldie Mill Park and ruins

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Questions and answers

Why is Goldie Mill fenced off?

The City closed off access to the ruins at Goldie Mill in 2016 as a safety precaution because of the sinkholes on the site.

Last June, the City, with support from the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA), closed a section of the park after environmental testing commissioned by the GRCA revealed chemicals in the soil may pose health risks. The City (who manages the park) and GRCA (land owner of the park and ruins) agreed it was best to close the area until more tests could be done.

Why were trees removed at Goldie Mills park?

We removed nine trees in the area where soil remediation work is being done. These trees were either identified as diseased or in decline by a third-party arborist and the City’s forestry team.

The safety of people in our community is our top priority and we’re doing what we can to save trees in the remediation area The City is taking arborist-recommended measures to limit the impact of the soil remediation work on trees including:

  • Removing contaminated soil from around tree roots and spraying roots to remove any remaining soil
  • Removing small amounts of soil at a time to prevent root damage
  • Working around and avoiding tree roots wherever possible

What are the potential health risks?

Please visit the GRCA’s webpage for details.

What did the additional environmental testing show?

Site testing has confirmed earlier results; that chemicals in the soil are consistent with those typically found based on the site’s former manufacturing activities. Historically, the Goldie Mill property was used as a sawmill, foundry, cooperage, distillery, piggery and tannery. The west side of Joseph Wolfond Park was used for furniture manufacturing operations.

Most chemical impacts were found more than 0.76 metres below the surface. However, impacts were also identified in shallower soils. There were no impacts identified in groundwater.

What is being done to address the soil condition?

The City will cap the soil at certain locations within the park to address shallow soil impacts and eliminate potential health risks. In some cases, an asphalt covering will be used (e.g. trail area). In other areas, a geomembrane—a synthetic membrane liner that prevents material getting through—will be laid down with clean soil and mulch added on top. This work will eliminate both the safety risk from the existing sinkholes and any health risk posed by the current soil conditions. Once the work is done the park will reopen for public use.

How much money will it cost to reopen the closed section of Goldie Mill Park?

The cost to address the soil condition and sinkholes is estimated to be $450,000.

How soon is this going to be done? When will the sinkholes be fixed?

The planning for this work began in 2016. The City expects to reopen the park in 2020 or 2021 (barring unexpected delays) and will resume bookings of the site, popular for weddings, for 2021.


Park features and amenities

  • Downtown Trail (Trans Canada Trail) – stone dust and asphalt trail
  • Goldie Mill ruins
  • Parking
  • Public washrooms at 75 Cardigan Street, adjacent to the ruins

Goldie Mill ruins

Virtual tour

Goldie Mill is located in Goldie Mill Park at the northeast corner of Cardigan and Norwich streets and on the west bank of the Speed River in the city of Guelph. This three-storey limestone building, now a ruin, was constructed in 1866.

Not accepting bookings at this time.

For more information, call 519-837-5678.


  • May be reserved for performances, weddings and other events
  • Hydro is available
  • Capacity: 160 persons
  • Public washrooms at 75 Cardigan Street, adjacent to the ruins

Goldie Mill on Canada’s Historic Places website

Goldie Mill was designated, by the City of Guelph, for its historic and architectural value under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law (1983)-11323).

Heritage value

The former Goldie Mill site is one of the most historic manufacturing locations in Guelph. In 1827, David Gilkison, a cousin of Guelph’s founder John Galt, built a sawmill beside the Speed River. In 1845, doctors W. Clarke and H. Orton built the “Wellington Mills.” Shortly after a fire in 1850, the mills were rebuilt in stone and renamed the “People’s Mills.” After another fire, in 1864, the land was purchased by James Goldie, who enlarged and rebuilt the stone building, in 1866. As the owner of Goldie Mill, James was considered one of the leading flour manufacturers and dealers in Ontario, and served as president of the Ontario Millers’ Association.

The flour mills continued to expand and flourish under the direction of the Goldie family until sold in 1918. The mill continued to be operated until a spring flood in 1929 carried away the dam. A fire in 1953 completely destroyed the building, and it is now maintained as a ruin by the Grand River Conservation Authority.

In the 19th century, the manufacturing complex included a foundry, sawmill, cooperage, distillery, piggery and tannery. The diverse and long-time use of Goldie Mill contributed significantly to the growth and prosperity of Guelph. The mill has been characterized as a model flour mill in Canada.

Among the unique architectural features of the masonry construction of the thick stone walls are double-reinforced stone lintels, an unusual type of construction in Ontario. The most impressive remaining section of the structure was built in 1867 with quarry-faced limestone. All stone was quarried on the mill property.

The heritage designation covers all masonry construction, which survives after the 1983 stabilization project, the 90-foot brick chimney as well as the surrounding property as purchased by Grand River Conservation Authority in March 1976.

Legal description

Part of the Mill Lands on Cardigan Street and Part of the original bed of the River Speed, in the Canada Company’s Survey of the Town, now City of Guelph, and which may be also known as part of the Saw Mill Lot in Divisions “A” and “F”.

Designated portions

  • The three-storey stone walls of the north-westerly section
  • The two-storey stone walls of the Elevator Building (middle section)
  • The brick chimney
  • The riverside wall including ruins of the boiler room windows.

The remainder of the property is designated to include:

  • Foundations which are buried to the north and northwest of the ruins
  • River willows along the riverbank of the property
  • Retention of other trees on the property is not required under this designation.

A chimney of swifts

The City of Guelph worked with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) to relocate a pair of chimney swifts to Goldie Mill’s 90-foot tall chimney.