Building Stories Podcast: Guelph Civic Museum

Friday, November 22, 2013

Guelph Civic MuseumWATERLOO, November 22, 2013 – On Monday, November 25, 2013 the seventh episode of the Building Stories Podcast series will be released. The episode will feature the Guelph Civic Museum in Guelph, Ontario and tell the story of how the Sisters of Loretto Convent was transformed into the current museum.

The podcast includes interviews with Paul Sapounzi, senior partner with the Ventin Group, who worked on the restoration and conversion of the convent to the museum, and Susan Ratcliffe, past President of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO) and member of the Guelph-Wellington County Branch of the ACO. In fact, it was the threat of demolition to the convent that urged a small group of citizens in Guelph to restart the Guelph-Wellington County Branch of the ACO in 2006.

Catholic Hill, where the Guelph Civic Museum is located, is also the site of the Church of Our Lady, a National Historic Site. The convent, built in 1856, actually predates the Church by 30 years. Both Sapounzi and Ratcliffe tell additional stories about the history of the Hill including its rumoured involvement with the Sleeman Brothers during prohibition.

The podcast will be available to listen to on the Building Stories website at under the ‘Publicity’ tab. It will also be attached to the Building Stories entry for the Guelph Civic Museum, a featured location on the website’s home page. The first six episodes of the podcast series focused on the London Life Insurance Building in London, Victoria Hall in Cobourg, Keefer Mansion in Thorold, the Stratford Historical Plaque Program, Victoria Jubilee Hall in Walkerton, and Camp 30 in Bowmanville. They are also available to listen to on Building Stories.

The Guelph Civic Museum is just one of the many interesting buildings included in a book that the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario has released to celebrate their 80th year. Titled “80 for 80: Celebrating Eighty Years of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario”, the book tells the stories of 80 buildings that the ACO has saved or helped saved. It is now available for order on the ACO’s website at

Building Stories is a website and mobile application that enables Canadians to take a direct role in identifying important community heritage assets. Building Stories is an incredible new on-line resource making thousands of original documents, photos and historical records available online from a wide variety of communities. The website engages the public in a way that has never been done before to help explain the importance of heritage in communities across Canada.

Dr. Robert Shipley, Director of the Heritage Resources Centre, states: “Through being able to use the inventory tool in a web-based and interactive way, it will allow communities and individual citizens to take a direct and active role in identifying the significant and valued structures that make up such a vital part of the country’s heritage assets. There has never been anything like this and the result will be to magnify and expand both interest in, and understanding of our built environment.”

Currently, the website includes entries from every province and territory in Canada. However, Building Stories will continue to grow into new communities, as new collections and archives are added to the fully searchable database, and as individuals comment on existing listings and contribute their own sites with stories, memories, digital artifacts, and photographs.

Building Stories has been developed by the Heritage Resources Centre (HRC) and the Computer Systems Group, both at the University of Waterloo, and the Centre for Community Mapping (COMAP).

The development and creation of The Building Stories Podcast series have been made possible by the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario and the Government of Ontario. The podcasts have been written, produced and hosted by Amy Barnes, a Heritage Consultant from Cambridge, Ontario.


For more information please contact:

Melissa Davies
Building Stories Project Manager
Heritage Resources Centre, University of Waterloo
519.888.4567 ext. 36921