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Preston is a community in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada in the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, Ontario. Prior to 1973 it was an independent city, incorporated in 1915, but amalgamation with the town of Hespeler, Ontario, the city of Galt, Ontario and the village of Blair formed the new municipality of Cambridge. Parts of the surrounding townships were also included. No population data is available for the former Preston since the Census reports cover only the full area of Cambridge. The first mayor of Cambridge was Claudette Millar.
There was considerable resistance among the local population to this "shotgun marriage" arranged by the provincial government and a healthy sense of rivalry had always governed relations among the three communities. Even today, though many residents refer to their area of Cambridge as being Galt or Preston or Hespeler. Each unique centre has its own history that is well documented in the Cambridge City Archives.
The former Preston is located on the western side of the city at the confluence of the Grand River and Speed River. Downtown Preston is commonly considered to be bounded on the north by the entrance to Riverside Park on King Street, and on the south by the King and Bishop plaza.
Preston was originally formed on land belonging to the German Company Tract, along the Speed River, which was purchased earlier from the Six Nations Indians. The name Preston is named for the hometown of William Scollick, who was surveyor and a native of Preston, Lancashire in England.
In the 1800s a group of German-speaking Mennonites from Pennsylvania arrived in the area and purchased land in the area. Among the first settlers to arrive in what was later to become Preston was John Erb, a Mennonite from Lancaster County, who arrived in 1805. He bought 7,500 acres (30 km2) including land at the confluence of the Grand and Speed Rivers in what later became Preston.
It was John Erb who bought the 7,500 acres (30 km2) of land and settled it in 1805. He later built a sawmill in 1806 and a gristmill in 1807. This settlement became known as Cambridge Mills.
Even in the early 1800s, the area included homes, a store, an inn, small shops operated by artisans and craftsmen, mostly immigrants from Germany. The Erb sons had hired William Scollick for their development business and the latter completed a full survey in 1834 and convinced the Erbs to rename the Cambridge Mills area Preston. After Erb's death in 1832, a son sold off property on both sides of the Speed River. What eventually became Preston started as a large settlement on the north side.
There were only 250 inhabitants in 1836, many from Pennsylvania, but the population had reached about 1600 by 1855, with some 70% originally from Germany. By then, the area had eight hotels and taverns. Some of these hotels, such as the North American Hotel (later called the Kress and still standing) from the 1840s and the later Del Monte (most successful in the 1890s) and the Sulphur Springs, were built to accommodate visitors who arrived via the Great Road to benefit from the mineral springs. The high sulphur content was believed to be useful for those with arthritis and rheumatism.
The Canadian Gazetter of 1846 indicates a population of about 600 inhabitants, two churches, a post office that receives mail each day, a steam grist mill, and tradesmen of various types. At the time, there was no significant industry.
The Preston post office opened in 1837 and the population continued to grow primarily because of immigration from Germany. Preston was incorporated as a village in 1853. The population declined in the late 1800s but by 1900, it had increased to 2,000 partly because of the new electric railway systems that started in 1894. In 1911, the line reached Hespeler, Berlin (later called Kitchener) and Waterloo; by 1916 it had been extended to Brantford/Port Dover. This made visiting other communities and carrying of goods very convenient.
Due to continued growth, by 1879 there were many industries such as a foundry, carriage manufacturer, potteries and a furniture company. This was also the year that the Cherry Flour Mills started, which would later become the Dover Flour Mills, a Preston company that still operates today.
On September 30, 1899 Preston was incorporated as a town with a population of just under 11,000. The Great Road between Dundas and Berlin (Kitchener) as well as the railroad connections helped the community to continue growing into an important industrial centre. Products made here included flour, agricultural implements, furniture, stoves, shoes and textiles. Preston grew and continued to be a successful industrial area; expansion followed in the 1950s and 1960s.
While most of the population of what became Waterloo County, Ontario was Protestant in 1911, Preston had a larger share of Roman Catholics, 844, while 862 were Lutherans, 707 Methodists, 704 Anglicans, and 525 Presbyterians.
Cambridge is also represented on the higher-tier Waterloo Regional Council which consists of the Regional Chair, the Mayors of the seven cities and townships, and eight additional Councilors - four from Kitchener and two each from Cambridge and Waterloo. Ken Seiling has held the position of Regional Chair since 1985.
Cambridge is represented in Ottawa by Bryan May (Liberal), the federal member of Parliament who defeated the previous incumbent MP (Gary Goodyear, Conservative – 2004 to 2015) in the October 2015 election.
Prestion was an independent entity in Waterloo County, Ontario until 1973 when amalgamation created the Regional Municipality of Waterloo. At that time, Preston was amalgamated into the new city of Cambridge. The Region handles many services, including Fire, Police, waste management, community health, transit, recreation, planning, roads and social services.
GRT operates a number of routes in Cambridge, four of which travel outside of the city: presently the 52, 61, 72, and 111 buses run to southern Kitchener, while the iXpress limited-stop express route runs from the Ainslie St. Transit Terminal (Galt) through Kitchener to the north end of Waterloo.
In June 2009 Regional Council voted to approve a plan to construct a light rail line, which has been named the Ion rapid transit. The first phase would run from Conestoga Mall in the north of Waterloo, to Fairview Park Mall in the south of Kitchener.
The second phase of the line would run from Fairview Mall to the Galt area of Cambridge. Mayor Doug Craig was a determined opponent of the plan. He felt that a series of buses would be just as effective but much less expensive. As of late February 2017, the Kitchener-Waterloo portion was well into the final phase of construction, but plans for the Cambridge section of the LRT were still in the very early stage. Public consultations were just getting started at the time. Three routes had been agreed on in 2011, with eight "endorsed" stops: at Fairway, Sportsworld, Preston, Pinebush, Cambridge Centre Mall, Can-Amera, Delta and Ainslie Street Terminal. Three others were still being considered.
Public English-language schooling is provided by the Waterloo Region District School Board, which operates 26 elementary and five secondary schools in Cambridge.
Publicly funded Catholic education is available through schools operated by the Waterloo Catholic District School Board.
Preston is home to one high school, Preston High; one public middle school, William G Davis; as well as the elementary schools Preston Public, Coronation Public, Grandview Public, Parkway Public, Ryerson Public, St. Michael's Catholic and St. Joseph's Catholic.
The University of Waterloo School of Architecture campus is located in nearby Galt in the Riverside Silk Mill, also known as the Tiger Brand Building. Inside there is a theatre, a fitness room, and the gallery "Design at Riverside", which is one of two publicly funded galleries dedicated to architecture in Canada. The School of Architecture is home to 380 students who live, study, and learn within the Cambridge community.
Parks and trails
The main park in Preston is Riverside Park. It is Cambridge's largest community park with an area of 256 acres (1.02 km².) The park contains a splash pad, two playgrounds, tennis courts, soccer pitch, a skateboard park, picnic areas that can be reserved, and a multitude of walking trails. The baseball fields are used often and on Canada Day there is always an event at the field whether it is a fair, bands at a bandstand, or fireworks. Riverside Park also hosts a fishing derby on Canada Day when support is available.
The 7.5 kilometer Mill Run Trail runs north-east from the park at Russ Street, along the banks of the Speed River, to Sheffield Street in the town of Hespeler. On its way, it passes through the hamlet of Speedsville, the former site of Idylwild Park and Chilligo Conservation Area.
Also in Preston is Linear Park which has extensive trails for walking, running or biking. At certain points the trail gives a perfect view of the confluence of the Grand and the Speed Rivers.
Preston Towne Centre
This traditional downtown core area remains quite vibrant and through the B.I.A. has organized a closely knit group of merchants providing a wide range of goods and services in office-related industry, business service industries and licensed restaurants. The target market area is predominately the immediate surrounding residential area, which is constantly growing through new high density developments. In addition, high traffic counts through this area adds to the market potential.
The Grist Mill Centre including a new Giant Tiger Department store is a small commercial mall on King Street in Preston.
- Cambridge, Ontario
- Hespeler, Ontario
- Preston Car Company
- Regional Municipality of Waterloo
- Speed River
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While Waterloo Region has promised to bring light rail transit to Cambridge in the second phase of its development, no one can say for sure when that will be.
- "Cambridge mayor wants to look at cost of cancelling LRT: Doug Craig favours bus rapid transit". CBC News. 2013-08-20. Retrieved 2013-09-16.
While Craig called for examining the cost of the potential cancellation of the LRT, he stopped short of providing what would constitute a reasonable price tag, saying instead that he believed the region could easily opt out of its current plan in favour of something else, even though construction on light rail had already started.
- Sharkey, Jackie (8 February 2017). "There's still wiggle room in the Region of Waterloo's LRT plans for Cambridge". CBC. CBC. Retrieved 10 March 2017.
- "List of Schools". Waterloo Region District School Board.
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