Atlas Obscura is organizing trips! Join us on an adventure »
Today Only: 50% off Atlas Obscura books and calendars at Barnes & Noble »

Guelph, Ontario

Naked Fountain Family

The nude sculpture on this fountain shocked conservative townsfolk when it was first unveiled, but not as much as the dead body found in it decades later. 

In the center of the small city of Guelph, Ontario, a fountain is topped with an unusual tableau: a naked family leaping into the air, while a complacent frog looks on.

“The Family” is bronze sculpture dedicated to immigrants that settled in Guelph, and the scene was specifically proposed by the Italian community who commissioned artist William McElcheran to create the fountain. The sculpture commemorates the hard work of families in building the community. The frog? Unclear.

When the fountain was unveiled by Governor General Jeanne Sauvé on July 4, 1985, it was initially met with controversy from the religious community because it displayed nudity at a major intersection. The complaints mostly died down though, and the family remained naked as ever.

The naked fountain has been the site of several local mysteries, in particular, the discovery of a dead body in 2015. A man was found floating naked in the water in the wee hours of the morning. Some suggest the fountain’s proximity to the city’s old burial ground in St. George’s Square has hexed it, but the only evidence of a curse is the repeated teenage vandalism that plagues the flying family. 

Know Before You Go

Easy street parking or access by public bus.

Contributed by
t trykyla
Edited by