What’s In a Name: Mo, Moe or Mole Hill?

January 26, 2016

Tradition and names matter in local culture and history.  Urban myths abound in Guelph, whether it be the ghost at the Albion (yes, she exists) or whether John Galt really put his hand on a tree stump when he designed the city (no, he didn’t).

We even have our own Guelph pronunciations – it’s “Del-HI” Street and “AR-kul” Road. Here in Ward 5, there’s a favourite local hill off Municipal Street. You all know it. It`s Mo(e)Hill. Or is it Mole Hill?

I have heard two different versions of Mo(e) Hill and Mole Hill. The conundrum is that both versions come from valid primary sources – residents who were there and participated in the naming – who swear by their version.

Let’s settle it once and for all…

Mo(e) Hill

The hill was created from fill and debris during construction of the nearby neighbourhood, as well as Centennial CVI and arena in the 1960s.  A group of local children living in the Maplewood Drive, Lockyer Street and Oriole Drive adjoining the park often gathered at the hill to play.  They joked about the hill and wondered aloud if it was a mountain or a hill.  “It’s a mountain!”, some proclaimed.  “No, it’s a hill”, said others.  In the spirit of compromise, they decided it’s both – it’s a Mo Hill.  And the name stuck.  The local children called it Mo Hill for many years until gradually the name spread beyond the neighbourhood.

Source:  Sophie Wilson, former resident of Maplewood Drive, and eyewitness/participant in the naming

Mole Hill

Given that the hill was a human-made feature comprised of fill, waste and debris from neighbouring construction, it was home to a high population of moles.  Moles tend to live underground in meadows and pasture, which is what the land in the development area was comprised of prior to being excavated.  In the early years of its existence, local children enjoyed looking for moles and mole tunnels in and around the hill until the ecosystem stabilized.  The local children began calling it Mole Hill.  “Hey, I’m meet you later at Mole Hill”….

Source: Craig Piper and brothers, who recall the plentiful mole supply 

Both versions are plausible and there is likely truth in each one.  I suspect the two names were used concurrently by different groups of local children.  Perhaps the accepted spelling of Moe Hill is actually a hybrid of both names?

Have you heard a different story of the naming?  Which version do you prefer?  Let’s get this name settled once and for all….