Waterloo, Ontario

From Academic Kids

Map of  with Waterloo in red.
Map of Waterloo Regional Municipality, Ontario with Waterloo in red.

The City of Waterloo, Ontario is the smallest of the tri-cities in the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, and is adjacent to the larger city of Kitchener. Its population, as of 2004, is 102,300.

Kitchener and Waterloo are often jointly referred to as Kitchener-Waterloo (K-W), or the twin cities, although they have separate municipal governments. There have been several attempts in the past to amalgamate the two cities, but none have been successful. According to popular polls, if the cities were joined most residents of the region would prefer to name the new city "Waterloo".

The name Waterloo is stressed on the last syllable (water-LOO).



Waterloo was founded in 1804 by Mennonites from Pennsylvania, including Abraham Erb, considered to be the founder of Waterloo because the two lots of land he owned later made up the core of Waterloo. In 1816, the new town was named Waterloo after the site of the famous battle in Europe the previous year. By the 1840s the area was a popular destination for German settlers. The Germans settled mostly in the area to the south-east of Waterloo, which in 1833 was called Berlin, later renamed to Kitchener in a controversial referendum conducted at the height of anti-German sentiment during the First World War.


The current mayor of Waterloo is Herb Epp, who was elected mayor in November, 2003. The Waterloo city council is made up of the mayor and 5 councillors, each elected in his or her "ward" (inaccurately called "riding"). The City of Waterloo itself was voted one of the top 100 employers in Canada in 2003.

The City is responsible for fire protection, libraries, parks and recreation and secondary streets, but many municipal services come instead from the broader level of government, Waterloo Region. Regional responsibilities include social welfare, community health, and policing through the Waterloo Regional Police Service.

The chief local political issue is the apparent overspending, and alleged wrongdoing, in connection with the massive development of RIM Park early in the present decade. Past and present city councils have been committed to providing for the explosive population growth that is coming with the local economic boom. Rapidly developing subdivisions are often described by their critics as urban sprawl that threatens environmentally sensitive areas and valuable agricultural land.


Missing image
King Street South, the heart of Uptown

There are five main parks in the city. The largest is RIM park, which occupies 500 acres (2 km²) and is home to a wide variety of indoor and outdoor sporting facilities, including an eighteen hole golf course, and the heritage 'Martin Farm House'. Waterloo Park is in Uptown Waterloo, and contains historical buildings and a bandshell. Bechtel Park occupies 109 acres (0.4 km²) and has many outdoor sporting facilities along with wetlands, meadows and hardwood forest. The park also includes a very large off-leash dog park. Hillside Park and Lexington are smaller facilities. Laurel Creek Conservation Area lies in the northwest of the city.

The Grand River, which is popular with canoeists, flows southward along the East side of the city.

The centre (or 'uptown') of Waterloo is located near the junctions of King and Erb streets. The centrepiece is the now rather old Waterloo Town Square shopping centre, which is (as of 2005) undergoing a renovation. The historical centre of the city was once along Albert Street, near the Marsland Centre and the Waterloo Public Library.

Residents use the term 'uptown' to refer to the Waterloo city centre, while 'downtown' is reserved for the Kitchener city centre.


The largest industries in Waterloo are currently technology-led. Waterloo has even become the centre of the "Canadian High-Tech Triangle", made up of Waterloo, Kitchener, Cambridge, and Guelph (Waterloo-Kitchener are often considered as the same city, hence the three points to make up the triangle). The dominant company in Waterloo is Research In Motion, the makers of the BlackBerry, which has its headquarters and many offices in Waterloo.

Breweries and distilleries had been a significant industry in the Waterloo area until 1993 when a Labatt-owned brewery was shut down. Now the only major brewery is the Brick brewery. Waterloo was also the original home of distiller Seagram. Insurance companies have had a strong presence in Waterloo, as several Waterloo-based insurance companies appear on the Financial Post's listing of the largest insurance companies.

Waterloo's electricity supplier is Waterloo North Hydro, and there are generally very few power failures. The biggest failures occurred on August 14, 2003 (the massive power failure of Ontario) and on May 11, 2005. The latter failure occurred when a 230,000 volt power line caught fire, and the backup power line was under maintenance. As a result, many Waterloo residents made their way into Kitchener that evening to get everything they needed as five hours of darkness ensued.

Companies based in Waterloo



  • Economical Insurance Group
  • Sun Life Canada (Formerly called Clarica)
  • Manulife Financial
  • The Equitable Life Insurance Company of Canada
  • Kraus Carpet Mills Limited


Many locals are of ethnic German descent. There is also a strong Mennonite presence, thanks to the region's history. The universities and colleges attract a large number of inidividuals from elsewhere in Canada and the world at large, giving the town a cosmopolitan ethnic makeup.

Sites of Interest


An annual Jazz Festival is held in July, and a Busker's Carnival in August. Waterloo joins with Kitchener in the largest celebration of Oktoberfest outside of Germany, which takes place at Canadian Thanksgiving in October. The Royal Medieval Faire takes place in September.

Colleges and Universities

Waterloo has two major Canadian universities, the University of Waterloo, and Wilfrid Laurier University. Wilfrid Laurier University is one of the few universities in North America offering a rapidly-growing Global Studies program, while the University of Waterloo is famous for having been the first Canadian university to introduce a co-operative study program. UW regularly performs well in Maclean's annual comparison of Canadian universities and colleges. Spinoffs from the University of Waterloo have contributed to a large number of high-tech companies in the area. Waterloo is also home to a campus of Conestoga College.

See also

External links





Region of Waterloo Municipalities
City of Cambridge | City of Kitchener | City of Waterloo
Township of North Dumfries | Township of Wellesley | Township of Wilmot | Township of Woolwich

Ontario Municipalities
de:Waterloo (Ontario)

fr:Waterloo (Ontario) pt:Waterloo (Ontário)


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