New banners celebrate every year in Guelph since 1867

Banners on downtown Guelph streetlights highlight every year since 1867. The idea of the project was to show people, events and places that have shaped the city.

Each of the 151 banners highlight different events, buildings and people

Some of the banners that have gone up on streetlights in downtown Guelph this summer. (CBC)

Guelph is celebrating its history this summer with streetlight banners in the city's downtown.

There are 151 banners and each highlights a different person, event, milestone, news headline or building specific to each year since 1867.

Sam Jewell, events co-ordinator for the Downtown Guelph Business Association, came up with the idea as a way to mark Canada's 150 years.

"I like the people ones. There are some people, I think, who are drawn to the architecture. I personally, I wanted to make sure when I was working with the curator of this, I wanted to make sure we had as many faces as possible," Jewell said.

Pacifists, beer and children's books

The banners include highlights such as:

1878: Mary Leslie publishes the controversial book The Cromaboo Mail Carrier.

1916: Pacifists arrested in downtown Guelph.

1933: Sleeman's licence to brew is revoked after charges of bootlegging.

1967: Guelph Civic Museum opens in the Farmers' Market.

1979: Robert Munsch publishes his first children's book.

1996: Gwen Jacobs' topless walk acquittal brings forth legislation equalizing laws in Canada.

2017: The iconic Petrie building is restored.

"I like the Iggy Pop one," Jewell said of the 1971 banner where a concert at the University of Guelph was shut down because it kept the headmaster awake. "It's such a great picture and it's a great story."

The banners are meant to tell the story of the city from 1867 to today. There are 151 unique banners. (CBC)

'Events that shaped Guelph'

There has also been some controversy over the 1986 banner, which features the four Wood brothers who were convicted in the murder of Karen Thomson.

Antonio Bertocchi, who was involved with the banner project, wrote a public Facebook post saying the banners are in no way celebrating what the Wood brothers did.

"We're recording events that shaped Guelph, regardless of how 'happy' they are," he wrote.

"Hiding our warts, our failures, our injustices, and our tragedies tells a Disney-fied version of Guelph which is unfair to all of us, and isn't a real history."

Website features longer stories

The banner project also has an online component, so people can learn more about the story behind each banner.

"They've all got these great stories that you just couldn't get onto a banner," Jewell said.

"We thought we've got to follow it up with more information on a website so people who can't make it downtown to actually go along and look on their phones and whatnot as they walk downtown, people who are from Guelph but don't live here anymore — everyone gets the opportunity to see this project," Jewell said.