Place:Kitchener, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Alt namesBerlin (until 1916)source: Family History Library Catalog
Coordinates43.45°N 80.5°W
Located inWaterloo, Ontario, Canada
See alsoWaterloo (township), Waterloo, Ontario, Canadatownship surrounding Kitchener until 1973
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Kitchener is a city in the Canadian province of Ontario, about west of Toronto. It is one of three cities that make up the Regional Municipality of Waterloo and is the regional seat. Kitchener was known as Berlin until a 1916 referendum changed its name. The city covers an area of 136.86 km2, and had a population of 256,885 at the time of the 2021 Canadian census.

The Regional Municipality of Waterloo has 575,847 people, making it the 10th-largest census metropolitan area (CMA) in Canada and the fourth-largest CMA in Ontario. Kitchener and Waterloo are considered "twin cities", which are often referred to jointly as "Kitchener–Waterloo" (K–W), although they have separate municipal governments.


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Prehistory and protohistory

The archaeologist Gary Warrick dates the expansion of the Neutral people to the Kitchener-Waterloo area to the 1300s.

A history states that at least two "aboriginal settlements from the 1500s can now be identified near Schneider and Strasburg Creeks" with some artifacts having been found under the city from a thousand years ago. The Iroquoian people grew crops such as corn, beans and squash. The finds include the remains of a First Nations village, estimated to be 500 years old, discovered in 2010 in the Strasburg Creek area of Kitchener. The inhabitants are thought to be ancestors of the Neutral Nation; artifacts found include the remains of longhouses, tools made of bone and of stone and arrowheads. One archaeologist stated that they discovered "artifacts going back as far as 9,000 years". In 2020, a site at Fischer-Hallman Road was found to include artifacts from a "Late Woodland Iroquois village" that was inhabited circa 1300 to 1600. Archeologists found some 35,000 objects including stone tools and a 4,000 year old arrowhead.

Early European settlement

German Company Tract

Kitchener stands on a part of the Haldimand Tract, lands in the Grand River valley purchased in 1784 by the British from the Mississaugas in order to grant it to the Six Nations for their allegiance during the American Revolution. Between 1796 and 1798, the Six Nations sold 38,000 hectares of this land to loyalist Colonel Richard Beasley. The portion of land that Beasley purchased was remote, but 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.

Many of the pioneers arriving from Pennsylvania, known as the Pennsylvania Dutch or Pennsilfaanisch-Deitsche (Deutsch; German-speaking mainly from Switzerland and the Palatinate, not modern Dutch), after November 1803 bought land in a 60,000-acre section of Block Two from the German Company, which was established by a group of Mennonites from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The tract included most of Block 2 of the previous Grand River Indian lands. Many of the first farms were least 400 acres in size. The German Company, represented by Daniel Erb and Samuel Bricker, had acquired the land from previous owner Richard Beasley; he had gotten into financial difficulties after buying the land in 1796 from Joseph Brant, who represented the Six Nations. The payment to Beasley, in cash, arrived from Pennsylvania in kegs, carried in a wagon surrounded by armed guards.

The first settlers in the area of what would become the village of Doon (now a suburb of Kitchener) arrived in 1800. They were two Mennonites from Franklin County, Pennsylvania who were also brothers in law, Joseph Schoerg (later called Sherk) and Samuel Betzner, Jr. Joseph Schoerg and his wife settled on Lot 11, B.F. Beasley Black, S.R., on the bank of the Grand River opposite Doon, and Betzner and his wife settled on the west bank of the Grand, on a farm near the village of Blair.

The homes built by the next generation of these families still stand as of March 2021, on what is now Pioneer Tower Road in Kitchener and have been listed as historically important; the John Betzner homestead (restored) and the David Schoerg farmstead (not yet restored) were erected circa 1830.

By 1800, the first buildings in Berlin had been built, and over the next decade, several families made the difficult trip north to what was then known as the Sandhills. One of these Mennonite families, arriving in 1807, was the Schneiders, whose restored 1816 home (the oldest building in the city) is now a National Historic Site and museum 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 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 gristmills and sawmills were erected throughout the area, most notably Joseph Schneider's 1816 sawmill, John and Abraham Erb's grist- and sawmills, Jacob Shantz's sawmill, and Eby's cider mill. Schneider built Berlin's first road, from his home to the corner of King Street and Queen Street (then known as Walper Corner). The settlers raised $1,000 to extend the road from Walper Corner to Huether Corner, where the Huether Brewery was built and the Huether Hotel now stands in the city of Waterloo; a petition to the government for $100 to assist in completing the project was denied.

Settlement before Ebytown (1804–1806)

Members of the Eby family, most notably Benjamin Eby, began migrating to the German Company Tract lands in the first decade of the 19th century. The Ebys were an old Swiss Mennonite family with an association with religious non-conformist movements in Europe going back possibly as far as the Middle Ages, and who were early followers of Anabaptism.[1] Jacob Eby, an ancestor of the Ebys who migrated to Upper Canada, was a Mennonite bishop in the Swiss canton of Zürich in 1683. The family first migrated to the Palatinate, then to Pennsylvania, settling in Lancaster County. In Lancaster County, members of the family, such as Peter Eby (1765–1843), continued to act as Mennonite religious leaders.[1] The Ebys became involved in early land settlement of the German Company Tract, with a number arriving between 1804 and 1807 and taking up farming plots.

Two brothers, George and Samuel ("Indian Sam") Eby, arrived in 1804 and settled on Lot 1 of the German Company Tract, near the area of what would become downtown Kitchener.[2] George Eby's farmstead was located one mile southeast from the future Berlin town core. It was later owned by Jacob Yost Shantz, who built a large farmhouse there in 1856 at what became the corner of Maurice and Ottawa Streets. Samuel Eby settled on the northwest part of Lot 1 and soon became a close associate of the Mississaugas who lived in the area, selling whisky to them.

Ebytown to Berlin (1806–1852)

Later named the founder of Berlin, Benjamin Eby (made Mennonite preacher in 1809, and bishop in 1812) arrived from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in 1806, and purchased a large tract of land consisting of much of what would become the village of Berlin, so named in 1833). The settlement was initially called Ebytown, and was at the south-east side of what later became Queen Street. Eby was also responsible for the growth of the Mennonite church in Waterloo County.[3] By 1811, Eby had built a log Mennonite meeting house first used as a school house, but later also housing religious services. A new meeting house, known as Eby's Versammlungshaus, near Stirling Avenue, replaced the log house in 1834, while a schoolhouse was built on Frederick Street about the same time.

Benjamin Eby encouraged manufacturers and craftsmen to relocate to Ebytown. Jacob Hoffman came in 1829 or 1830, and started the first furniture factory. John Eby, druggist and chemist, arrived from Pennsylvania in about 1820, and opened a shop to the west of what would later be Eby Street. At the time, settlers commonly formed a building "bee" to help newcomers erect a log home.[3] Immigration from Lancaster County continued heavily in the 1820s because of a severe agricultural depression there. Joseph Schneider, from that area, built a frame house in 1820 on the south side of the future Queen Street after clearing a farm and creating a rough road; a small settlement formed around "Schneider's Road", which became the nucleus of Berlin. The home was renovated over a century later and still stands.

The village centre of Ebytown was established in 1830 by Phineas Varnum, who leased land from Joseph Schneider and opened a blacksmith shop on the site where a hotel would be built many years later, the Walper House. A tavern was also established here at the same time, and a store was opened.[3] At the time, the settlement of Ebytown was still considered to be a hamlet.[4]

Friedrich Gaukel, another prominent early local figure, purchased the Varnum tavern site in the early 1830s, along with other lands around the growing village. In a November 1833 transaction, he purchased lands located along the village's main street (later known as King Street) from Joseph Schneider. The deeds of sale for this transaction are the earliest recorded use of the name Berlin to refer to the community.

The 1826–1837 cholera pandemic affected Bridgeport in 1832 and Berlin in 1834. Hamilton, then a significant port of entry for immigrants to Canada, was linked to the 1832 outbreak, which also affected other nearby settlements such as Guelph and Brantford. At Bridgeport, two English families who had recently arrived from Suffolk contracted the disease after passing through Hamilton, and several died after arriving at the community. They also spread it to an already-settled family, the Hemblings, a number of whom also died, including adults. Orphaned children from these families were later adopted by local Mennonites.

The Smith's Canadian Gazetteer of 1846 describes Berlin as: "... contains about 400 inhabitants, who are principally Germans. A newspaper is printed here, called the "German Canadian" and there is a Lutheran meeting house. Post Office, post twice a-week. Professions and Trades.—One physician and surgeon, one lawyer, three stores, one brewery, one printing office, two taverns, one pump maker, two blacksmiths." The Township of Waterloo (smaller than Waterloo County) consisted primarily of Pennsylvanian Mennonites and immigrants directly from Germany who had brought money with them. At the time, many did not speak English. There were eight grist and twenty saw mills in the township. In 1841, the township population count was 4,424.

The first cemetery in the city was the one next to Pioneer Tower in Doon; the first recorded burial at that location was in 1806. The cemetery at First Mennonite church is not as old, but contains the graves of some notable citizens, including Bishop Benjamin Eby, who died in 1853, Joseph Schneider, and Rev. Joseph Cramer, founder of the House of Friendship social service agency.

County seat (1853)

Previously part of the United County of Waterloo, Wellington, and Grey, Waterloo became a separate entity in 1853 with Berlin as county seat. Some contentious debate had existed between Galt and Berlin as to where the seat would be located; one of the requirements for founding was the construction of a courthouse and jail. When local merchant Joseph Gaukel donated a small parcel of land he owned (at the current Queen and Weber Streets), this sealed the deal for Berlin, which was still a small community compared to Galt. The courthouse at the corner of the later Queen Street North and Weber Street and the gaol were built within a few months. The first county council meeting was held in the new facility on 24 January 1853, as the county officially began operations.

The Waterloo County Gaol is the oldest government building in the Region of Waterloo.[5] The Governor's House, home of the "gaoler", in a mid-Victorian Italian Villa style, was added in 1878. Both have been extensively restored and are on the Canadian Register of Historic Places.[5]

"Busy Berlin" (late 19th century)

Arrival of the railways

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. In 1869, Berlin had a population of 3000.

In the late 1880s, the idea of a street railway connection to Waterloo was promoted, resulting in the construction of the Berlin and Waterloo Street Railway in 1888. It was electrified in 1895, making it the first electric railway in Berlin, though not the first in the county, as the Galt and Preston Street Railway had opened with electric operation in 1894. This was followed by the construction of the Preston and Berlin Street Railway in 1904, which connected Berlin to Preston (now a part of Cambridge) to the southeast.

House of Industry and Refuge

In 1869, the county government built a very large so-called poorhouse with an attached farm, the House of Industry and Refuge that accommodated some 3,200 people before being closed in 1951; the building was later demolished. It was on Frederick St. in Kitchener, behind the now Frederick Street Mall, and was intended to minimize the number of people begging, living on the streets, or being incarcerated at a time before social-welfare programmes. A 2009 report by the Toronto Star explains, "pauperism was considered a moral failing that could be erased through order and hard work".

A research project by the Laurier School of Social Work has amassed all available data about the house and its residents, digitized it, and made the archive available online. According to Sandy Hoy, a director of research projects, the "inmates" included not only the poor, but also those with disabilities, women, and children. Some were single women who had been servants and became pregnant. Since there were no social services, they were sent to the House. "We saw a lot of young, single mothers in the records," said Laura Coakley, a research co-ordinator. The archives also indicate that in addition to food and shelter for "inmates", in return for labour in the house and on the attached farm, the house also donated food, clothing, and money for train tickets to enable the poor to reach family that might be able to support them. Two cemeteries for the poor also were nearby, including "inmates" of the house who had died.

Civic institutions

On 9 June 1912, Berlin was designated a city.[6] At this time, the City Hall was in the two-story building at King and Frederick Streets that had also been used as the Berlin town hall, completed in 1869 by builder Jacob Y. Shantz. During its tenure, the structure was also used as a library, theatre, post/telegraph office, market, and jail. That building was demolished in 1924 and replaced by a new structure behind it, designed by architects William Schmalz and Bernal Jones, featuring a classical-revival style and a large civic square in front. Demolished in 1973, and replaced by an office tower and the Market Square shopping mall, the old City Hall's clock tower was later (1995) erected in Victoria Park. The building was not replaced by the current Kitchener City Hall on King Street until 1993; the architect for the latter was Bruce Kuwabara. During the interim years, the city had occupied leased premises on Frederick Street.

Kitchener was in many cases within Ontario the earliest adopter, or one of the earliest adopters, of many municipal institutions which later became commonplace. These institutions included library boards, planning boards, and conservation authorities. Known collectively as the agencies, boards, and commissions (or ABCs), these special-purpose bodies became a characteristic element of Canadian governance. The ABCs movement in Kitchener began in the 1890s with the passage of the 1894 Public Parks Act transferring management of the town's parkland from a committee of the town council to a parks board, an initiative which ultimately led to the creation of Victoria Park. A prominent supporter of this movement was John Richard Eden, who would later become mayor of the town in 1899. The parks board was followed in 1899 by a water commission, whose creation was heavily supported by local industrialists following a devastating fire at a local factory in 1896, as well as the need by many industries for a reliable water supply.[7] The town's local gas plant and electric utility was similarly municipalized in 1903,[7] resulting in the creation of the Berlin Light Commission.

Facing a mounting sewage problem, especially as a result of effluent from the town's industrial tanneries, local leaders in Berlin campaigned at a provincial level to be allowed to create a sewage commission, for which there was no provision in provincial legislation. Ultimately, a private bill was passed, allowing Berlin to create the first sewage commission in Canada in 1904.[7] The Berlin and Waterloo Street Railway was soon also taken over and municipalized. Kitchener was the first city in Ontario to get hydroelectric power in long-distance transmission lines from Niagara Falls, on October 11, 1910. The growing roster of public utilities managed by the Light Commission led to its reorganization into the Kitchener Public Utilities Commission in 1924, which operated as the municipal gas, electric, and light utility, as well as the local street railway operator.

Berlin to Kitchener

Berlin's character had been predominantly German since Waterloo Township's settlement by Pennsylvania Dutch pioneers in the early 19th century, and its urban growth and industrialization was bolstered in large part by Germans and other peoples from Central and Eastern Europe, who brought with them skills, tools, and machinery, as well as diverse religious and social customs. The outbreak of the First World War pitted the British Empire (and by extension, Canada) against the German, Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman empires, and led to a wave of suspicion, exclusion, and discriminatory measures against people whose ethnic origins were associated with these states. Thousands of Ukrainians, Germans, Turks, and Bulgarians were forcibly placed into internment camps by the Dominion government under the War Measures Act, which was passed in August 1914. Internees had their property confiscated and many of them were subjected to forced labour. Tens of thousands of others were subjected to government surveillance.

In Berlin, anti-German sentiment slowly escalated throughout the war, beginning with the vandalizing of the statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I in Victoria Park in 1914. Despite pronouncements of loyalty and commitment to the war effort, the city's German community was subjected to physical violence and attacks on property by soldiers of the 118th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. In a set of referenda in 1916, Berlin was renamed to Kitchener, after Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener, a British field marshal. The first referendum vote in May, to change the name from Berlin, was characterized by the historian Adam Crerar as being influenced by voter intimidation, with soldiers of the 118th Battalion keeping potential name change opponents away from the polls; the referendum passed by a narrow margin. A second referendum in June, to choose the new name, saw the name "Kitchener" chosen with only 346 votes. In September, the city of 19,000[8] people was renamed.

German culture

Of the cities that are now part of Waterloo Region, Berlin, now Kitchener, has the strongest German heritage because of the high levels of settlement in this area by German-speaking immigrants.

While those from Pennsylvania were the most numerous until about 1840, a few Germans from Europe began arriving in as 1819, including Fredrick Gaukel, a hotel keeper, being one of the first. He built what later became the Walper House in Berlin. Two streets in present-day Kitchener, Frederick and Gaukel Streets, are named after him. Other German-speaking immigrants from Europe arrived during the 1830s to 1850s, bringing with them their language, religion, and cultural traditions. The German community became industrial and political leaders, and created a German-Canadian society unlike any other found in Canada at the time. They established German public schools and German-language churches.

Both the immigrants from Germany and the Mennonites from Pennsylvania spoke German, though with different dialects such as Low German or the incorrectly called Pennsylvania Dutch, actually Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch (German, not modern Dutch). (This dialect is different from Standard German with a simplified grammatical structure, some differences in vocabulary and pronunciation and a greater influence of English.) The combination of various types of German-speaking groups was a notable factor in the history of Waterloo County. The two groups spoke similar dialects and were able to understand each other quite easily and there was no apparent conflict between the Germans from Europe and those who came from Pennsylvania.

Some sources estimate that roughly 50,000 Germans directly from Europe settled in and around Waterloo County, between the 1830s and 1850s. Unlike the predominantly Mennonite settlers from Pennsylvania, the majority of Germans from Europe were of other denominations: most in the first groups were Catholic and those who arrived later were primarily Lutheran.

In 1862, German-speaking groups held the Sängerfest, or "Singer Festival" concert event in Berlin that attracted an estimated 10,000 people and continued for several years. Eleven years later, the more than 2000 Germans in Berlin, Ontario, started a new event, Friedensfest, commemorating Prussian victory in the Franco-Prussian war. This annual celebration continued until the start of World War I. In 1897, they raised funds to erect a large monument, with a bronze bust of Kaiser Wilhelm 1, in Victoria Park. The monument was destroyed by townspeople just after the start of World War I. A statue of Queen Victoria was erected in the park in 1911.

By 1871, Berlin, Ontario, was a bilingual town with German being the dominant language spoken. More than one visitor commented on the necessity of speaking German in Berlin.

Immigration from continental Germany slowed by 1880. First and second-generation descendants now comprised most of the local German population, and while they were proud of their German roots, most considered themselves loyal British subjects. The 1911 Census indicates that of the 15,196 residents in Berlin, Ontario, about 70% were identified as ethnic German but only 8.3% had been born in Germany. By the beginning of the First World War in 1914, Berlin and Waterloo County were still considered to be predominantly German by people across Canada. This would prove to have a profound impact on local citizens during the war years. During the first few months of the war, services and activities at Lutheran churches in Waterloo County continued. As anti-German sentiment increased throughout Waterloo County, many of the churches decided to stop holding services in German.

The governor general of Canada, the Duke of Connaught, while visiting Berlin, Ontario, in May 1914, discussed the importance of Canadians of German ethnicity (regardless of their origin) in a speech: "It is of great interest to me that many of the citizens of Berlin are of German descent. I well know the admirable qualities – the thoroughness, the tenacity, and the loyalty of the great Teutonic Race, to which I am so closely related. I am sure that these inherited qualities will go far in the making of good Canadians and loyal citizens of the British Empire".[9]

In 1897 a large bronze bust of Kaiser Wilhelm I, made by Reinhold Begas and shipped from Germany, was installed at Victoria Park, Kitchener to honour the region's prominent German-Canadian population.[10] It was removed and thrown into the lake by vandals in August 1914 at the beginning of the First World War. The bust was recovered from the lake and moved to the nearby Concordia club, but it was stolen again February 15, 1916, marched through the streets by a mob, made up largely of soldiers from the 118th Battalion, and has never been seen again. The 118th Battalion is rumoured to have melted down the bust to make napkin rings given to its members. A monument with a plaque outlining the story of the original bust was erected in 1996 in the location of the original bust and its stand.

As the incidents with the bust suggest, there was certainly some anti-German sentiment in Canada. Some immigrants from Germany who considered themselves Canadians but were not yet citizens, were detained in internment camps. There were some cultural sanctions on German communities in Canada, and that included Berlin. However, by 1919 most of the population of what would become Kitchener, Waterloo and Elmira were "Canadian"; over 95 percent had been born in Ontario.[11] Those of the Mennonite religion were pacifists so they could not enlist, and the few who had immigrated from Germany (not born in Canada) could not morally fight against a country that was a significant part of their heritage. The anti-German sentiment was the primary reason for the Berlin to Kitchener name change in 1916. News reports indicate that "A Lutheran minister was pulled out of his house ... he was dragged through the streets. German clubs were ransacked through the course of the war. It was just a really nasty time period." Someone stole the bust of Kaiser Wilhelm from Victoria Park; soldiers vandalized German stores and ransacked Berlin's ethnic clubs. History professor Mark Humphries summarized the situation:

A document in the Archives of Canada makes the following comment: "Although ludicrous to modern eyes, the whole issue of a name for Berlin highlights the effects that fear, hatred and nationalism can have upon a society in the face of war."

The Waterloo Pioneer Memorial Tower built in 1926 commemorates the settlement by the Pennsylvania 'Dutch' (actually Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch, or German) of the Grand River area of Waterloo County. The Kitchener–Waterloo Oktoberfest is a remembrance of the region's German heritage. The event includes beer halls and German entertainment. The second largest Oktoberfest in the world, the event is based on the original German Oktoberfest and is billed as "Canada's Greatest Bavarian Festival". It attracts an average of 700,000 people to the county. During the 2016 Oktoberfest parade, an estimated 150,000 people lined the streets along the route. Granted, some do not consider Oktoberfest to be indicative of German culture in general. "The fact is, Oktoberfest in Germany is a very localized festival. It really is a Munich festival. ... [Oktoberfest in Kitchener] celebrates only a 'tiny aspect' of German culture [Bavarian]", according to German studies professor James Skidmore of the University of Waterloo.

Suburban development (20th century)

The interwar and postwar periods saw a wave of suburban development around the city. One prominent example of this was the Westmount neighbourhood. Modelled after the affluent Montreal suburb of the same name, it was developed on the forested hills to the north of the Schneider farmstead on lands that were subdivided from it.[12] Kitchener's Westmount took a number of its street names from the model subdivision in Montreal, such as Belmont Avenue.[12] It was the brainchild of a local rubber magnate, Talmon Henry Rieder, who was heavily connected to Montreal business interests and who oversaw the 1912 construction of the Dominion Tire Plant on nearby Strange Street.[12] Rieder was inspired by the turn-of-the-century City Beautiful movement, which was focused in large part on construction of monumental civic architecture and urban beautification; it is often associated with Beaux-Arts architecture in North America.

Rieder's own interpretation of the movement's philosophy followed a variation of the influential landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted's "Suburb Beautiful", with Rieder proclaiming Westmount the "Development Beautiful". It reflected an alienation from industrial cities and dense urban centres, driven by a variety of factors. These included concerns around the health impact of air pollution and desire for "country air";[12] the ability for people to commute longer distances being enabled by motor vehicles;[12] the availability of large, cheap plots of development land;[12] an increasing emphasis on the "restricted residential subdivision"[12] and restrictive covenants barring industrial and commercial development in exclusive residential neighbourhoods (an antecedent to modern zoning); and a desire by Berlin-turned-Kitchener's ethnically German business class, in the wake of the city's turmoil over its German identity during the First World War, to distance themselves from its 19th century past and the downtown area associated with it in favour of a built environment similar to wealthy Anglo-Canadians in other Canadian cities, such as Montreal and Winnipeg.[12] The fortunes of Rieder and other rubber industrialists were linked to the rise of the automobile industry in Canada,[12] and indirectly to the growth of automobile-linked suburbs. Lands formerly in the rural Waterloo Township were annexed to the city, ensuring suburban access to municipal services.[12] Westmount's planners distinguished the suburb from Kitchener's urban core in fundamental ways, such as the adoption of wandering, curvilinear roads combined with a more traditionally urban grid pattern.[12] Many streets were originally intended to be wide boulevards, with some, such as Union Boulevard, planned to be as wide as .[12] Winding streets and picturesque vistas were a significant part of advertising for the subdivision.[12]

The "Demographics" and "Economy" sections of Kitchener, Ontario are also of interest.

Research Tips

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.

Early Records

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 1915 are now available [October 2014]; 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.
Images and indexes of civil registrations for the "viewable" years can be found on paid websites, and indexes only on FamilySearch. The FamilySearch Wiki on Ontario Vital Records explains how these records are organized and their availability.
In September 2014 announced that its paid website has been subjected to a "houseclean" of its Ontario BMD database, adding data that had been omitted and making many corrections. Its provision now includes

  • Births, with 2,172,124 records covering 1869-1913.
  • Marriages, with 3,393,369 records for 1801-1928 including Ontario county, district and Roman Catholic origins as well as province-wide civil registration.
  • Deaths, with 2,190,030 records comprising Ontario civil registrations of deaths, 1869-1938 and registrations of Ontario overseas deaths for 1939-1947.

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, known to Canadians as "LAC". Copies of original microfilms are online at the LAC website for all censuses up to 1921. Each census database is preceded with an explanation of the geographical area covered, the amount of material retained (some census division material has been lost), the questions on the census form, and whether there is a name index. Census divisions were redrawn as the population increased and more land was inhabited.
Other websites, some paid and some free, also provide Canadian census originals and/or indexes online. One can also view censuses on microfilm at the LAC, at the Archives of Ontario (see address above), or at large libraries throughout Canada.

Hard-to-Find Places

E-books, Books and Newspapers

  • The Internet Archive, particularly texts from Canadian universities, can contain interesting material
  • Our Roots is a Canadian website similar to The Internet Archive
  • Global Genealogy is an online bookshop specializing in Ontario material who will ship anywhere in the world.
  • The Ancestor Hunt is a blog listing old Ontario newspapers that are available online, both free and pay websites. This is a very extensive list.

    (Template:Waterloo local provision pending)
source: Family History Library Catalog
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Kitchener, Ontario. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.