The role of faith communities in modern society will be explored from a cultural perspective, recognizing that church buildings are one of our most vulnerable architectural heritage assets.  Demolition, unsympathetic reuse and demolition by neglect of heritage churches is a wake up call and an opportunity for regeneration.   Join the conversation.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

10:00 am – 3:30 pm

Multi-faith Centre

569 Spadina Ave., Toronto


Poster with details attached.

Our ACO-Guelph & Wellington website will soon be moving to the domain name (or you can continue to access us at will soon lead to a brand new site to celebrate Guelph’s rich and unique places, people and stories.  The new site will be your portal to heritage events, organizations, news, photos and more.

Want to help?



Name of Organization: Guelph-Wellington Branch of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO)

Event: “Developing the Past for the Future of Guelph”

Speakers: Including Kirk Roberts & Tom Dowd

Date: April 21, 2016, 7:00 – 9:00 pm

Place: Heritage Hall (former BME Church)
83 Essex Street, Guelph

Contact: Susan Ratcliffe Email:

Admission: No charge for ACO members
$5 charge for non-members

Developing the Past for the Future of Guelph

Who better to lead off on this topic than Kirk Roberts of Tyrcathlen Partners, owners of the Petrie Building, and Tom Dowd, owner of the Alma Block. The central portion of the 1868 limestone Alma Block (the H&R Block) was designated in 2006 for its cultural and historic value and has been in continuous use as a downtown commercial building for over 140 years.

Now much in the news, the 1882 Petrie Building was designated by the National Trust of Canada as a top ten endangered historic building. Saved from demolition by neglect by Tyrcathlen Partners, the Petrie Building is now undergoing a massive rehabilitation. For its part, ACO has begun a fund-raising campaign to restore the galvanize sheet metal façade – likely the only one of its kind left in Canada.

Guelph’s Heritage Planner Stephen Robinson will also add his expertise to the mix.


Name of Organization: Guelph-Wellington Branch of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO)

Event: Public Talk: “The Mystery of Mary Mink”

Speaker: Guylaine Petrin, genealogist & historical researcher

Date: Thursday, February 18, 2016 7:00 – 9:00 pm

Place: Heritage Hall (former BME Church)83 Essex Street, Guelph

Contact: D’Arcy McGee Email:

Admission: No charge for ACO members
$5 charge for non-members

The Mystery of Mary Mink

In celebration of Black History Month, genealogist, author and librarian Guylaine Petrin will explore the story of Mary Mink, daughter of James Mink, a successful Black businessman in 19th century Toronto. Mary was sold into slavery in the Southern United States by her white husband and then rescued by her father in a daring expedition. A movie filmed in Canada in 1996 was based on “historical records,” but what was the real story?

Which brings us to Heritage Hall. As a church, it was a place of refuge for the Underground Railroad U.S. slaves. The Guelph Black Heritage Society now owns and operates the Hall and makes it available to other civic groups – including Guelph-Wellington ACO. This will be our primary location for future meetings. What better locale for our February program during Black History Month! This special recognition of Canada’s black citizens was created in 1995 on a motion by the Hon. Jean Augustine, MP, first black woman elected to parliament.

Join us to learn more about the story of Mary Mink, also featured in Guylaine’s article in the Spring 2016 issue of Ontario History.


Name of Organization: Guelph Wellington Branch of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario

Event: The Basilica of Our Lady – Guided Tour and Talk

Speaker: Roberto Chiotti, Restoration Architect

Date: Wednesday, November 18, 7:00 – 9:00 pm

Place: The Basilica of Our Lady, Guelph

Contact: D’Arcy McGee,

Admission: Free to members; $5 charge for non-members

A Visit to Our Lady

If you missed the excitement when the newly restored facilities of the Basilica of Our Lady reopened, now’s your chance to catch up. You’ll be met at the front door of the building by knowledgeable members of the congregation who will guide you through. Restoration architect Roberto Chiotti will be waiting on the beautifully repurposed lower level to describe how all this was brought about.

Mr. Chiotti is Principal of Larkin Architects, Inc. In addition to his architectural training, he holds a Master’s degree in Theological Studies from St. Michaels College of the University of Toronto. Mr. Chiotti has completed over 100 projects for parishes and religious communities in southern Ontario.

Basilica Tour Coordinator Agnes Nagy and her expert guides have a wonderful evening planned, including a visit to the organ loft and musical director Joe Carere, and ending with coffee.


Name of Organization: Guelph-Wellington Branch of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO)

Event: Public Forum: What Value Urban Forests?

Panel members:

Brian DePratto, Toronto Dominion Bank, Toronto

Toni Ellis, Ontario Urban Forest Council, Ontario Heritage Tree Program, Elora

Timea Filer, Urban Forestry Field Technician, City of Guelph


Tuesday, October 20, 2015 7:00 – 9:00 pm


Wellington County Museum 0536 Wellington Road 18 (between Fergus & Elora)

Contact: D’Arcy McGee Email:


No charge for ACO members

$5 charge for non-members

What Value Are Urban Forests?

According to a study by TD Bank’s Chief Economist Craig Alexander, the value of Toronto’s urban forest is estimated to be $7 billion, or about $700 per tree. For every $1 spent to maintain the urban forest, Toronto is returned $1.35 to $3.20 worth of benefits for the residents of that city. According to this report, therefore, each mature tree cut down represents a loss of $700.

Those trees and the shrubs and plants that grow in our yards and parks and line the streets of our towns and cities also represent an important investment in our environmental condition, human health and societal wellbeing. Their significance to our cultural landscapes cannot be overstated.

Meanwhile, all this greenery is busy throwing oxygen into the air, filtering out dust and pollutants, sheltering birds and other wildlife while improving our neighbourhoods with its beauty. Join us at the Wellington County Museum on October 20 to hear more.

Next ACO Event: Tour of the Basilica of Our Lady with architect Roberto Chiotti, Wednesday November 18. Details to follow.