It used to be a field, rows of crops lined the fertile soil, and through the middle of it, the Speed River meandered its way across the pastoral countryside. In 1976 the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) completed the 700-yard long Guelph Dam, which flooded 360 hectares of the field behind it to create Guelph Lake in the province of Ontario in Canada.
The purpose of the dam was to provide flood control and low-flow augmentation for the Grand River watershed. But the lake behind the dam also opened up a deluge of recreational activities and has delighted day visitors and campers for almost 35 years now.
Located on Township Road 6, about a half-mile north of the city of Guelph, the conservation area offers plenty of activities for a day trip or weekend retreat. Swimmers and sunbathers are attracted to the two sandy beaches at the lake. Windsurfing, canoeing, kayaking, and sailing are also popular at the lake. However, there are no motorized crafts allowed so visitors can enjoy the area peacefully and safely.
You can rent canoes, kayaks and boats on an hourly basis as well as by the day. Fishing draws its share of visitors to the park as well, with large and Smallmouth Bass and Northern Pike commonly being caught. You can get hydrographic maps that show the varying depths of the lake so avid fishermen can figure out where the big fish may be hiding.
Each year, events draw more and more visitors to the park. This includes the Hillside Festival, which is a three day musical event that’s held every summer that features a wide variety of local musical talent. The music is pretty diverse as it ranges from folk to Afro-Cuban jazz. There are also other festivals held throughout the year as well as several triathlons for those who like to stay active.
Visitors who want to stay for longer than just a day can arrange for a camping site. The camp has about 250 unserviced sites with no electricity and water. It also has just over 100 serviced sites. Campers can take advantage of activities offered by the visitor services program such as hayrides, movie nights, baseball games, and camp fires.
For children, there are activities such as Nature Hikes, Coloring Contests, Scavenger Hunts, and Sand Sculpting.
Guelph Lake isn’t the only GRCA Park in the area as others include Bellwood lake in the town of Fergus, Conestogo Lake in the town of Drayton, Elora Gorge in Elora, Laurel Creek in Waterloo, and Shade’s Mills in Cambridge. They’re all ideal spots to spend a summer day in the great outdoors.