The City of Kitchener is a city in Southern Ontario, Canada. Located approximately 100 km west of Toronto, Kitchener is the seat of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo. It was the Town of Berlin from 1854 until 1912 and the City of Berlin from 1912 until 1916. The city had a population of 219,153 in the 2011 Census. The metropolitan area, which includes the neighbouring cities of Waterloo and Cambridge, has 507,096 people, making it the tenth largest Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) in Canada and the fourth largest CMA in Ontario. The city is adjacent to the smaller cities of Cambridge to the south, and Waterloo to the north. Kitchener and Waterloo are often referred to jointly as "Kitchener-Waterloo" (K-W), although they have separate municipal governments. Including Cambridge, the three cities are known as "the tri-cities".
The City of Kitchener covers an area of 136.86 square kilometres.
On June 10, 2012, the city of Kitchener celebrated 100 years of cityhood. Activities took place throughout 2012 in honour of this milestone.
In 1784, the land that Kitchener was built upon was an area given to the Six Nations by the British as a gift for their allegiance during the American Revolution; 240,000 hectares of land to be exact. From 1796 and 1798, the Six Nations sold 38,000 hectares of this land to a Loyalist by the name of Colonel Richard Beasley. The portion of land that Beasley had purchased was remote but it was of great interest to German Mennonite farming families from Pennsylvania. They wanted to live in an area that would allow them to practice their beliefs without persecution. Eventually, the Mennonites purchased all of Beasley's unsold land creating 160 farm tracts. By 1800, the first buildings were built, and over the next decade several families made the difficult trip north to what was then known as the Sand Hills. One of these Mennonite families, arriving in 1807, was the Schneiders, whose restored 1816 home (the oldest building in the city) is now a museum located in the heart of Kitchener. Other families whose names can still be found in local place names were the Bechtels, the Ebys, the Erbs, the Weavers (better known today as the Webers), the Cressmans and the Brubachers. In 1816 the Government of Upper Canada designated the settlement the Township of Waterloo.
Much of the land, made up of moraines and swampland interspersed with rivers and streams, was converted to farmland and roads. Wild pigeons, which once swarmed by the tens of thousands, were driven from the area. Apple trees were introduced to the region by John Eby in the 1830s, and several grist- and sawmills (most notably Joseph Schneider's 1816 sawmill, John and Abraham Erb's grist- and sawmills and Eby's cider mill) were erected throughout the area. Schneider built the town's first road, from his home to the corner of King Street and Queen Street (then known as Walper corner). $1000 was raised by the settlers to extend the road from Walper corner to Huether corner, where the Huether Brewery was built and the Huether Hotel now stands; a petition to the government for $100 to assist in completing the project was denied.
Immigration to the town increased considerably from 1816 until the 1870s, many of the newcomers being of German (particularly Lutheran, and Mennonite) extraction. Some were from Switzerland, like the founder of The Arthur Pequegnat Clock Company. In 1833 the town was renamed Berlin because of the recent German immigration from the Breuckmann family, and in 1853 Berlin became the County Seat of the newly created County of Waterloo, elevating it to the status of Village.
The extension of the Grand Trunk Railway from Sarnia to Toronto (and hence through Berlin) in July 1856 was a major boon to the community, helping to improve industrialization in the area. Immigrants from Germany, mostly Lutheran and Catholic, dominated the city after 1850 and developed their own newer German celebrations, and influences, such as the Turner societies, gymnastics, and band music. Anti-German sentiment during the First World War led to the abandonment of much of this heritage. For example, churches switched to English-language services. In 1916, following much debate and controversy, the name of the city was changed to Kitchener; named after the late British Field Marshal The 1st Earl Kitchener. After the war, local historians and civic groups promoted a new heritage that emphasized the county's Pennsylvania Dutch roots. Illustrated souvenir books, a popular novel, and site markers celebrated this simplified, nationalistic version of the founding.
On June 9, 1912, Berlin was officially designated a city. And then, after 69 years, on September 17, 1981, the first-ever "blue box" recycling program in the world was launched in Kitchener. Today, more than 90% of Ontario households have access to recycling programs and annually they divert more than 650,000 tonnes of secondary resource materials. The blue box program has expanded in various forms throughout Canada and to countries around the world such as the United States, United Kingdom, France and Australia, serving more than 40 million households around the world.
The "Demographics" and "Economy" sections of Kitchener, Ontario are also of interest.
The primary source for basic documents (vital statistics, land records, wills) for people who lived in the Province of Ontario is the Archives of Ontario, 134 Ian Macdonald Blvd, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M7A 2C5.
Civil registration did not begin in the province until 1869. Before then there may be church records of baptisms and burials. For the most part these are still held by the denomination who recorded them. Copies of marriage records made pre-1869 had to be sent by individual clergymen to the registrar of the county in which the marriage took place. These marriage records are available through Ontario Archives, on micorfilm through LDS libraries, and on paid and unpaid websites, but because they were copied at the registrars' offices, they cannot be considered a primary source.
Vital Records after 1869
Birth, marriage and death registrations are not open to the public until a specific number of years after the event occurred. Births to 1914 are now available [October 2012]; dates for marriages and deaths are later. Birth and death registration was not universally carried out in the early years after its adoption. Deaths were more apt to be reported than births for several years. The more rural the area, the less likely it would be that these happenings were reported to the authorities.
Land Records and Wills
Information on how to access land records and wills is best sought on the Archives of Ontario website. An ancestor's land holding might be found on Canadian County Atlas Digital Project if he was in occupancy circa 1878.
Association for the Preservation of Ontario Land Registry Office Documents (APOLROD). A list of Land Registry Offices for all Counties of Ontario.
The original censuses are in the hands of Library and Archives Canada. All of the original census (1851-1911) images are online with the exception of that for 1861. Not all of them are indexed. Later censuses are not yet available. Census divisions were redrawn as the population increased and more land was inhabited.
E-books and Books