Hespeler, Ontario

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Dissolved town
Nickname(s): The Beehive[1]
Hespeler is located in Southern Ontario
Coordinates: 43°25′59″N 80°18′26″W / 43.4331°N 80.3072°W / 43.4331; -80.3072Coordinates: 43°25′59″N 80°18′26″W / 43.4331°N 80.3072°W / 43.4331; -80.3072
Country Canada
Province Ontario
Regional municipality Waterloo
City Cambridge
Settled 1830
Incorporated 1901
Amalgamated 1973
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Forward sortation area N1P, N1R, N1S, N1T, N3C, N3H
Area code(s) 519 and 226
NTS Map 040P08

Hespeler is a neighbourhood and former town within Cambridge, Ontario, located along the Speed River.


In 1830, Joseph Oberholtzer purchased land along the Speed River. The settlement that followed was to become known as New Hope. In 1845, Jacob Hespeler arrived in New Hope. Hespeler purchased land along the river and built several industrial mills. Hespeler brought strength to the village, with was aided by Great Western Railway stopping in the settlement between Galt and Guelph. In 1857, Hespeler called for a Census to find out if the number of residents in the settlement would be enough to name it a village. The Census took place in July, 1858, and the settlement became the Village of Hespeler on January 1, 1859. The village continued to grow until it was incorporated as the Town of Hespeler in 1901.

Hespeler flourished into the 20th century and housed Dominion Woollens and Worsteds Ltd., one of the largest textile producers in the country.

The town also developed a history in hockey, as a hockey stick manufacturer located there, and consequently named Hespeler, manufactured hockey sticks. The Hespeler Shamrocks, is the name of the minor hockey teams in town run by Hespeler Minor Hockey Association under the Ontario Minor Hockey Association . Graduates include Kirk Maltby and Paul Woods of the Detroit Red Wings, Tim Brent of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ken Ellacott of the Vancouver Canucks, Don "Red" Laurence of the Atlanta Flames and former NHL Linesman Bob Hodges.[2]

In 1973, Hespeler amalgamated with the City of Galt and the Town of Preston to form the City of Cambridge.


The Hespeler Library was retrofitted by installing a glass enclosure around the historic Carnegie building.

Queen Street is the downtown core of Hespeler, on which many local businesses and dining establishments are situated.

The Old Town & Fire Hall is one of the oldest buildings in Hespeler. It originally functioned as a Town Hall when Hespeler operated as an independent municipality. It still functions as a fire hall and is also the home of the Company of Neighbours, a heritage organization founded by Bill O'Krafka.

The Hespeler Library was originally an early nineteenth century carnegie-style library. In the early 2000s, it was determined that an expansion was needed. Rather than constructing another structure onto the preexisting building, a glass enclosure was built around the existing library, which both expanded the surface area and protected the historic significance of the building.

The Hespeler Train Station, formerly located on Guelph Avenue, was used for passenger trains in the early 1900s to 1950s. Queen Elizabeth passed through the station in the 1950s. It was destroyed following an act of arson on October 31, 2003.

Riverbank Lofts Development[edit]

Lofts will be built in historic stone buildings, right on the Speed River

New developments have recently been coming to the downtown area of Hespeler.[3] Once considered a run-down downtown area, upscale real-estate development began with the new library.[4] Soon following, developers started planning to turn the old American Standard factory into high-end condos.[5][6][7] Construction on the project, dubbed the 1847 Riverbank Project, is expected to start sometime 2010 and be completed in 2011. However, the project has still yet to be started, as the designers are attempting to gain approval from the Grand River Conservation Authority. To cater to the needs of the oncoming high-end demographic, several high-end businesses opened.

Pat Brennan, of the Toronto Star compared the project to Toronto's Distillery District, where a campus of similar vintage historic industrial buildings were transformed into a hub of condos and high-end restaurants and boutiques.[6]


Hespeler has several elementary schools and one high school, Jacob Hespeler Secondary School, named after the town's founder.[8]

The sole source of post-secondary education in Hespeler is Heritage Baptist College and Heritage Theological Seminary.


Hespeler offers many different recreational activities for its residents. There are many parks, two of the largest being Woodland and Forbes, the latter housing a tennis club.

The Johnson Centre, a community centre, is located just across the street from Forbes Park. Its facilities include a swimming pool, sauna, gymnasium, exercise rooms, and areas for local organizations and clubs to meet in.

The Speed River offers various recreational activities, such as canoeing and fishing.

There are several trails running throughout Hespeler. The Mill Run Trail, beginning at Sheffield Street, leads through Chilligo Conservation Area and part of the former site of Idylwild Park, to Cambridge's largest park, Riverside Park, in the town of Preston.[9][10][11]


The Galt, Preston and Hespeler Electric Railway[edit]

An interurban streetcar connected Hespeler to nearby Preston and Galt.

The Galt, Preston and Hespeler electric railway connected Hespeler to Galt and Preston from 1896 to 1955.[12] The railway incorporated with neighbouring interurban railways, and partnered with the Canadian Pacific Railway, and was named the Grand River Railway when passenger service was ended in 1955. With lines that connect to Berlin (now Kitchener) to the north and BrantfordPort Dover to the south.

Transit terminal[edit]

Hespeler Transit Terminal
Coordinates 43°25′09″N 80°19′32″W / 43.41917°N 80.32556°W / 43.41917; -80.32556
Owned by Grand River Transit
Platforms 4

The terminal is located curbside at the southwest corner of Groh Avenue and Holiday Inn Drive,[13] just down Groebel Avenue from Queen Street. It serves as a transfer and connection point for Grand River Transit (GRT) bus routes.

GRT bus service[edit]

  • 51A Hespeler Rd. to Fisher Mills via Queen Street
  • 51B Hespeler Rd. to Melran
  • 51C Hespeler Rd. to Fisher Mills via Franklin Boulevard
  • Route 51 Hespeler Rd. to Ainslie Street Terminal

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Downtown Hespeler | City of Cambridge, Ontario, Canada"Downtown Hespeler Gallery". City of Cambridge, Ontario. Archived from the original on 2012-03-07. The former city hall is now being transformed into a historic museum run by volunteers 
  2. ^ "Historical Information - Evolution of Hespeler". City of Cambridge, Ontario. Archived from the original on 2012-02-18. The area that eventually came to be occupied by the town of Hespeler was originally part of the land granted to the Six Nations Indians by the British Crown in 1784. 
  3. ^ "RiverBank Lofts Hespeler Village (Cambridge) Ontario" (PDF). CM Magazine. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-10-10. A series of stone buildings, first built in the late 1800s by founding father Jacob Hespeler, became The American Standard factory in 1967. Bathroom fixtures and tubs were made here until the plant closed in 2007. Today The Riverbank Condo Lofts will become another example of a repurposed historical property. 
  4. ^ "American Standard factory condominium sales start by invitation only". KW Record. 2011-08-18. Archived from the original on 2014-10-10. “I think this a huge lift for Hespeler. I think it will really change, transform downtown Hespeler, but we have been moving in that direction for several years,” Grant said. 
  5. ^ "A Changing Hespeler Skyline". Urbanity. 18 February 2009. Archived from the original on 15 October 2012. Retrieved 15 October 2012. Shawky Fahel, a local developer in Waterloo Region has bought the existing American Standard building in Hespeler and has grand plans for the redesign of the factory’s site. The first draft plan includes approximately 95 housing units and 7,000 square feet of retail space fronting Queen Street. 
  6. ^ a b Pat Brennan (2011-11-25). "Cambridge town takes cue from Distillery District". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 2014-10-10. Fahel is converting the mill, portions of which were built in 1847, into luxury condominium lofts. His RiverBank Lofts project may become a residential icon for Southern Ontario, similar to what the Distillery District has achieved for Toronto’s former industrial basin between Parliament and Cherry Sts., south of Front St. 
  7. ^ "Riverbank Lofts". Buzz buzz home. Archived from the original on 2012-10-29. Retrieved 2014-10-10. The project is scheduled for completion in 2014. Available condos start at CAD$200,000. The project has a total of 111 units. 
  8. ^ Jacob Hespeler S.S
  9. ^ Mill Run Trail | City of Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
  10. ^ Live | City of Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
  11. ^ Trails and Cycling | City of Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
  12. ^ "History of Electrical Rail Transportion". Cambridge Web. Archived from the original on 2014-04-01. 
  13. ^ "Cambridge Terminal Platform layouts". Region of Waterloo Grand River Transit. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 October 2012. Retrieved 15 October 2012. 

External links[edit]