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Anonymous history in your area
Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Guelph Group's 50th Anniversary- A Report
April 1st, 1996, is a happy and historic occasion for Alcoholics
Anonymous in Guelph and the surrounding area. In observing
its 50th A.A. Birthday, anything that might be considered
a "long form" account dating back to 1946 will
be the work of our dedicated volunteers in the archives.
Tonight's meeting will also form part of our history, and
we are pleased to have Joe C. (Willowdale Group) as our
honored guest speaker. Joe was very much a part of the picture
in the early days of A.A. in Guelph. I can recall one of
our oldtimers, Dave P., from Hespeler (South Waterloo Group,
Scout House, Preston) mentioning in his talk that Joe was
one of the first speakers, if not the first, when the old
Guelph Group had its meetings at Homewood. I believe that
some simple research would confirm that Dr. Baugh, a longtime
friend and supporter of A.A., was director of Homewood at
that time. A Sister Isadore from St. Joseph's Hospital often
referred to Dave P. asher bald-headed son and on one occasion,
when Dave was being admitted after another battle with John
Barleycorn, the only room she had for her son was the flower
is almost impossible to list the many good friends of A.A.
in the outside community. These were the doctors, pastors
(who allowed us to meet in their churches and to makefull
use of their kitchen facilities), hospital staff and yes,
even the police! This group had its closed discussion meetings
at the downtown police station for a considerable time and
their consideration and cooperation is well remembered and
the earlier days, prior to answering services, doors were
open in the community for those who were active in Twelfth
Stepping. The local Y.M.C.A. building on Quebec Street (Park
Mall now) was a residence for many who came to their first
meetings, who had no place to call home. This tied in, at
the same time, with two other very helpful establishments.
One of these was the Minute Lunch, also on Quebec Street
and the dear lady at the City of Guelph Welfare Office,
Mrs. Cadwell. She issued lunch tickets to deserving clients
and these were honored at Greg's Minute Lunch. A hot beef
sandwich was 45¢ at Greg's at that time.
could go on and on with writing down recollections, occurrences
and some very special days and times from our yesterdays
and this would be a labor of love. For our special meeting,
a "brief" history must, in fairness, be just that.
first member in Guelph, Clair McC., brought A.A.here from
Toronto. It wasn't long before he attracted another and
then others came. Meetings were held in homes then and our
present archivist has material and old members' cards (with
sobriety dates) dating to those early beginnings.
of the early meeting places was at the "Five Points,"above
the tinsmith's shop on Woolwich Street. The stairs were
numbered 1 to 12 going up and at the top was a clock with
the 12 letters of our slogan Remember When. This
was the old Alano Club.
quite a few years the Guelph Group met at Downtown Knox
Church. This is where Punchy and so many others came to
their first meeting. Reverend D.Crawford Smith was Pastor
(and Padre) and was a great friend of Alcoholics Anonymous.
group had two meetings a week, one open and the other a
closed discussion. In later years, the discussion meeting
was held at the Delhi St. Rec. Centre. This group evolved
into what is now Pathfinders, which meets Sunday mornings
at the Homewood.
other groups in the area had their roots in the Guelph Group,
including Acton Mobile and the old Elora Group (meeting
was across from St. Mary's R.C. Church, in the little school
house) and those early members and their groups kept very
close ties. There was a lot of visiting between Kitchener-Waterloo
and Guelph, i.e. the Highland Road Group and also North
of our members started the inside group (Serenity Seekers)
at the Ontario Reformatory, Guelph in 1949. This meeting
has been continuous there over the years and the founding
member's widow, Alice (in her 90's) and the old superintendent's
widow, Greta (in her 80's) have been honored as guests at
the annual one-day Round-Up, which happens every September.
These special people are a link, a connection, to where
we've come from.
is so much more that will be recorded for those who follow
after us. But here we are, by the Grace of God, and mindful
of our co-founders Bill W. and Dr. Bob and the great movement
that many believe was inspired by a Higher Power.
we take the liberty of saying that this is a family birthday
for all A.A.'s in this area and our deep gratitude goes
out to those who walked the walk and had the courage to
start A.A. in Guelph, not seeking or desiring recognition
of any kind.
of us were fortunate enough to share with Joe at the Willowdale
Group of A.A. on the occasion of his 50th A.A.birthday last
year. Thanks Joe, to you and your dear wife, for carrying
the message all those days ago and our heartfelt appreciation
for making the trip to share in our 50th tonight.
The author wrote that since this history was written,"it
has become apparent that the Guelph Group was `exported'
here from Toronto and the first meetings began in 1947,