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Historic carousel and miniature train entertain at Riverside Park

July 2022

Riverside Park is a jewel of a park for the residents of the medium-size city in Guelph, Ontario, known as “The Royal City.” The park opened in 1905, then spanning only 14.5 acres, as a stop on the Guelph Radial Railway streetcar line.

Situated along the Speed River, the now-80-acre park has many amenities, including a bandshell, three baseball fields, a disk golf course, a rock garden, an ice cream stand, walking trails and lots of open land for relaxing, picnics and quality family time. Of course, it also has a playground for the kids, just like one that can be found in any neighbourhood park, but that’s not all there is to entertain the kids.

A historic carousel and mini-train can be found right beside the ice cream stand and playground structures.

The carousel was designed by Allan Herschall and has been in operation since 1919. The Allan Herschell Company was a prominent manufacturer of carousels and other amusement park rides. Over 3000 Herschall hand carved wooden carousels that were shipped worldwide.

The Riverside Park Carousel was purchased by the City of Guelph in 1970 from Conklin & Garrett, known as North America’s traveling amusement corporation, and moved to Riverside Park. It is one of only 148 antique wooden carousels still in existence in the United States and Canada today. It was briefly closed from 1976-1979, due to being in disrepair. A community campaign was launched to raise money for its restoration, which was completed by Guelph Correctional Centre inmates, using a colour scheme developed by local artist Ken Danby, who along with Guelph solicitor John Valeriote, led the restoration campaign.

Right beside the carousel is the Riverside Express miniature railway. Passenger cars are pulled by a miniature replica of a 1950s-era locomotive along a 650 foot triangular-shaped track. In an average season, the train sees approximately 17,000 rides.

The carousel and miniature railway operate from late May until early October, with tickets just under $3 per ride. Check their web site for times and specific dates – Riverside Park carousel and miniature train – City of Guelph.

Sources: Riverside Park (Guelph) – Wikipedia, Carousel Mural – City of Guelph, Enhancements planned for ‘iconic’ Riverside Park mini train ride – Guelph News (guelphtoday.com), Riverside Park carousel and miniature train – City of Guelph.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

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