Travel Guelph, Ontario: Appreciating Art the Dog Way at the old/new sculpture park

vic and school desk

Vic gets schooled on Verne Harrison’s “Dual School Bench”

It was a great idea to take my schnoodle Victor to the outdoor art park … until it wasn’t.

(My apologies to artist John Greer – apparently his three large stone ‘Grains of Wheat’ to a dog looks like, well three large rocks.)

We’re hanging out at the Guelph Art Gallery (formerly the McDonald Stewart Art Centre) sculpture park on the University of Guelph campus in Guelph, Ontario. There’s no going into the gallery today, though, and not just because of the dog. The gallery was closed until September 17, 2015 for renovations that altered the front entrance – and name – of this art centre, which originally opened in 1980 (six years before I attended U of G, affectionately known as Moo U.).

The Donald Forester sculpture park (and city) has evolved a lot since its inception when the inverted sculpture “Mask” by Evan Penny landed on the grounds face down – or face up depending on your perspective. It’s hard not to notice this piece at the corner of Gordon Street and College Avenue; it’s the anchor to what’s evolved into a 40-piece outdoor collection of realistic and abstract sculptures, the largest of its kind  in Canada (by number).

Vic checks out Cynthia Short's

Vic checks out Cynthia Short’s “Lightmare”

Evan Penny's

Evan Penny’s “Monad”

This park holds a nostalgic place in my heart. I spent the better part of six and a half years at my alma mater (two degrees folks, I’m not that slow) and the sculpture garden was a welcome sanctuary from campus energy.

Here I am, back in town decades later, and what better way to bond with my little Vic than let him explore some of my favourite art – Cynthia Short’s “Lightmare” – and some I haven’t seen before – Verne Harrison’s ‘Dual School Bench?’ Anything outdoors (on my authority) is dog-friendly, especially if there’s grass involved. Art and dogs – awesome combination, right?

susan detwiler's camp

Vic (not peeing) at Susan Detwiler’s “Camp”

As you might guess, Victor’s commentary was predictably (to everyone but me) canine:  he peed. Frequently. (Hey, maybe marking his favourites is his highest form of flattery.)

I glance frantically about hoping no one noticed our indiscretions. Fortunately, on this quiet spring day we had the place to ourselves, and passing traffic. Hopefully, it’ll rain tonight and erase the evidence.

Next, we’re headed quickly to the Hanlon dog park in Guelph – all dog, no art … more on that later.

In the meantime,read about our adventures in Peterborough here.

Love dogs and art? Checkout this cool but heart-warming piece by Dean Russo here.


  1. […] Check out our Guelph Art Gallery dog experience here. […]

  2. […] maybe not welcome at ZimArt but tolerated. (Check out Victor’s Guelph sculpture park experience here). Are dogs allowed to enjoy the privately owned outdoor sculpture park? I ask curator and owner […]

  3. […] sculptures dotting the property seem ideal for strolling a leashed dog (check out Victor’s other art adventures), yet my dog wasn’t allowed. No dogs are […]

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