UGDSB Communities

The region is rich in culture, architecture, parks and riverside and green spaces, and our Southwestern Ontario climate boasts four greatly varied and visually striking seasons: autumn, winter, spring and summer. Many outdoor and indoor recreational and leisure activities and opportunities are available throughout the year. The Grand River Conservation Authority has twelve parks and facilities in and around the city of Guelph and towns of Fergus and Elora.

There are also numerous museums, arts centers, theatres and renowned music festivals in our district, in both the County of Dufferin and the County of Wellington.


The population of Dufferin County is about 57,000 people, with 97.5% reporting English as the main language spoken at home.

The County of Dufferin is in a rural area that includes the town of Shelburne and the city of Orangeville – the second largest city in the Upper Grand District School Board region. Dufferin County’s economy is largely dependent on agriculture but also has numerous commercial and retail businesses, as well as industries related to residential and commercial construction and manufacturing. Tourism is also a thriving industry, with many beautiful lakes, rivers, campsites and trails.

Three of the eleven schools in our district that offer the International Student Program are in Dufferin: Orangeville District Secondary School and Westside Secondary School in Orangeville, and Centre Dufferin District High School in Shelburne.


Orangeville is a large town, the second largest community in our district, and is just an hour’s drive from Toronto. In the annual “Great Places in Canada” contest, Orangeville’s main street was voted the best main street in Canada. With a dynamic youth theatre company, a cinema complex, a sports centre with a swimming pool and two ice rinks, arts and food festivals, and so much more, Orangeville is the cultural hub for the surrounding small towns and rural communities.


Shelburne is the northernmost community in our district, a small, thriving town that is central to the rural area. It is home to the Dufferin County Museum and Archives, a recreation centre that provides year-round sports activities and hosts community and cultural events, and the Hockeyworks World Hockey Centre – an international ice hockey camp has been attended by more than 20 NHL players since it began in 1999. The town and surrounding areas provide a full spectrum of outdoor sports and activities, including golf, skiing, hiking, fishing and camping.


Wellington County has a population of about 280,000, with 90% of homes reporting English as the main language spoken at home.

Maclean’s magazine has deemed the County of Wellington the safest community in Canada! The county includes the city of Guelph and the towns of Fergus, Elora, Erin, Palmerston and Mount Forest, as well as expansive rural areas. There are a number of leading research companies and institutions in the county, as well as numerous recreation and sports complexes, historic architecture, museums and vibrant arts communities with theatre and dance companies, cinema houses, community gardens and more.

Eight of the eleven high schools in our district that offer ISPs are in Wellington County: Centennial Collegiate Vocational Institute, Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute and John F. Ross Collegiate Vocational Institute in the city of Guelph; Centre Wellington District High School in the town of Fergus; Erin District High School in the town of Erin; Norwell District High School in the town of Palmerston; Wellington Heights Secondary School in the town of Mount Forest.


The primary urban community in our district, Guelph is a vibrant city with a population of close to 122,000, located about 100 kilometres from Toronto. The city is consistently ranked among the top ten places to live in Canada – as one of the safest cities and “smartest” communities. An annual labour report for 2016 indicates Guelph is the best city in Canada to find a job, and Reader’s Digest ranks Guelph as one of the top three cities in Canada to raise a family. A daily transit system gives students access to everything the city offers: numerous shopping malls, movie theatres, recreation and sports complexes, performing arts centres and educational institutions, including Conestoga College and one of Canada’s top twenty universities – The University of Guelph.

Guelph is also consistently ranked very high as one of Canada’s best cities:

Best Places for New Canadians 2016

Guelph chosen as top city in Canada to buy real estate

Huffington Post: Canada’s Best City To Find A Job? Guelph, Ontario, According To BMO

Global News: Canada’s best cities for full-time jobs

Canada’s top cities to buy real estate in 2017


The town of Fergus is an old Scottish settlement located 22 kilometres north of Guelph, and adjacent to the village of Elora. Both of these picturesque and historic communities are situated on the banks of the Grand River and have some of the original stone houses built in the 1800s. Among its charming shops and eateries, Fergus boasts a performing arts theatre and a dynamic community and sports centre with an ice rink, a 25-metre indoor swimming pool and a year-round schedule of sports and leisure activities. Elora is a cultural hub and home to many artists and crafts people, with a movie theatre, two annual music festivals and a range of sports from cycling on the Trans-Canada Trail to zip lining and canoeing.


Erin is a small town in a lovely rural area, and is the closest in our district to Toronto – just 75 kilometres from the CN Tower. The town is unique in Ontario in that Erin District High School is located in a multi-facility community centre called Centre 2000, which is a dynamic hub of activity and the heart of the town. The complex also houses a nursery school and a senior centre, as well as the public library, an arena, a recreation centre, a community theatre, a dental office and a physio-fitness centre.


Palmerston is the westernmost town in our district, located in a vast rural landscape dotted with farms, and is one of four towns that make up the greater community of Minto. The area offers numerous extracurricular activities and year-round sports through a community recreation complex with an ice rink and swimming pool, as well as cultural events and opportunities through such institutions as the Drayton Festival Theatre, Norgan Theatre and Palmerston Railway Heritage Museum.


The town of Mount Forest is located within a thriving farming community, while also being on a main highway with easy access to nearby urban communities. Students have access to numerous sports and leisure activities in Mount Forest, many of them at the community centre, which is a cultural hub for the town. There are also year-round outdoor sports and leisure activities in the area, including camping, hiking and fishing.

For a nominal fee, our ISP students can participate in a monthly extracurricular program  that offers trips, tours of universities, sightseeing and cultural activities throughout our  region and the province of Ontario.

The UGDSB provides a superior and affordable education to our international students,  with attentive, personal service and a safe and nurturing environment.