Waterloo, Ontario

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City of Waterloo
Uptown Waterloo
Uptown Waterloo
Flag of Waterloo
Official logo of Waterloo
Waterloo is located in Canada
Waterloo is located in Southern Ontario
Waterloo is located in Regional Municipality of Waterloo
Coordinates: 43°28′N 80°31′W / 43.467°N 80.517°W / 43.467; -80.517Coordinates: 43°28′N 80°31′W / 43.467°N 80.517°W / 43.467; -80.517
IncorporatedMay 27, 1857
 • MayorDave Jaworsky
 • Governing BodyWaterloo City Council
 • City CAOTim Anderson
 • MPBardish Chagger (Liberal)
 • MPPCatherine Fife (ONDP)
 • Land64.06 km2 (24.73 sq mi)
329 m (1,079 ft)
 • City (lower-tier)121,436 (47th)
 • Density1,895.8/km2 (4,910/sq mi)
 • Metro
575,847 (10th)
 • Metro density527.2/km2 (1,365/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC−5
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4
Forward sortation area
Area code(s)519, 226, and 548

Waterloo is a city in the Canadian province of Ontario. It is one of three cities in the Regional Municipality of Waterloo (formerly Waterloo County). Waterloo is situated about 94 km (58 mi) southwest of Toronto. Due to the close proximity of the city of Kitchener to Waterloo, the two together are often referred to as "Kitchener–Waterloo" or the "Twin Cities".

While several unsuccessful attempts to combine the municipalities of Kitchener and Waterloo have been made, following the 1973 establishment of the Region of Waterloo, less motivation to do so existed, and as a result, Waterloo remains an independent city. At the time of the 2021 census, the population of Waterloo was 121,436.[1]


Indigenous peoples and settlement[edit]

According to the city, indigenous peoples lived in its area, including the Iroquois, Anishinaabe and Neutral Nation.[3]

The Haldimand Proclamation was a land grant to the Iroquois to compensate for their wartime alliance with the British during the American Revolution.[4] Block Number 2 (aka Block 2) was purchased by Richard Beasley from Joseph Brant (on behalf of the Six Nations in 1796) with a mortgage held by the Six Nations. Block 2, 94,012 acres in size, was situated in the District of Gore. To meet his mortgage obligations, Beasley had to sell portions of the land to settlers.[5] This was counter to the original mortgage agreement, but subsequent changes to the agreement were made to permit land sales.

Mennonites from Pennsylvania counties Lancaster and Montgomery were the first wave of immigrants to the area.[6] In the year 1800 alone, Beasley sold over 14,000 acres to Mennonite settlers.[citation needed]

A group of 26 Mennonites from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, pooled their resources into the German Company of Pennsylvania, which was then represented by Daniel Erb and Samuel Bricker.[7] The company purchased all the unsold land from Beasley in 1803, resulting in a discharge of the mortgage held by the Six Nations. This discharge allowed Beasley to clear his obligation with the Six Nations, and allowed the settlers to have deeds to their purchased land.[8] The payment to Beasley, in cash, arrived from Pennsylvania in kegs, carried in a wagon surrounded by armed guards.[9]

Many of the pioneers who arrived from Pennsylvania after November 1803 bought land in a 60,000-acre tract of Block 2 from the German Company of Pennsylvania. The tract included almost two-thirds of Block 2. Many of the first farms were least 400 acres in size.[10]

Development (19th century)[edit]

The Mennonites divided the land into smaller lots; two lots owned by Abraham Erb became the central core of Waterloo. Erb, often called the founder of Waterloo, had come to the area in 1806 from Franklin County, Pennsylvania. He bought 900 acres of bushland in 1806 from the German company and founded a sawmill (1808) and grist mill (1816); these became the focal point of the area. The grist mill operated continuously for 111 years. Erb's son, John, built the first Mennonite church after the War of 1812.[11] Other early settlers of what would become Waterloo included Samuel and Elia Schneider, who arrived in 1816. Until about 1820, settlements such as this were quite small.[10][12] Erb also built what is now known as the Erb-Kumpf House in c. 1812, making it likely one of the oldest homes in Waterloo.[13][14][15]

The first schoolhouse in Waterloo, built in 1820.

The first school in what is now the City of Waterloo was built on land donated by Erb; the log building was constructed in 1820. A larger school house of stone was built in 1842 and was replaced with a brick school building in 1852. Over the decades, the log building was moved, eventually to Waterloo Park, where it still stands.[16] The German spoken in Waterloo County is based upon the 18th century Pennsylvania Dutch dialect.[17] In turn, the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect is based upon the dialect of German spoken in southwestern Germany.[17]

In 1816, the new Waterloo Township was officially incorporated while being named after Waterloo, Belgium, the site of the Battle of Waterloo (1815), which had ended the Napoleonic Wars in Europe.[18] After that war, the new township became a popular destination for German immigrants. By the 1840s, German settlers had overtaken the Mennonites as the dominant segment of the population. Many Germans settled in the small hamlet to the southeast of Waterloo. In their honour, the village was named Berlin in 1833 (renamed to Kitchener in 1916). The first Catholic family to arrive were the Spetz family from Alsace who came in 1828.[19]

By 1831, Waterloo had a small post office in the King and Erb Street area, operated by Daniel Snyder, some 11 years before one would open in neighbouring Berlin.[20] The Smith's Canadian Gazetteer of 1846 states that 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 sawmills in the township. In 1841, the population count was 4424. In 1846 the village of Waterloo had a population of 200, "mostly Germans". There was a grist mill and a sawmill and some tradesmen.[21] By comparison, Berlin (Kitchener) had a population of about 400, also "mostly German", and more tradesmen than the village of Waterloo.[22]

Berlin was chosen as the site of the seat for the County of Waterloo in 1853. By 1869, the population was 2000.[23] Waterloo was incorporated as a village in 1857 and became the Town of Waterloo in 1876 and the City of Waterloo in 1948.

20th and 21st centuries[edit]

The presence of the University of Waterloo in the city induced technological and innovative companies to base in Waterloo,[24] especially companies specializing in computing and software. For example, Research in Motion (now BlackBerry Limited), which developed BlackBerry, was started by Mike Lazaridis and Doug Fregin in 1984.[25] A 1994 issue of the Financial Post mentioned Waterloo-based companies MKS, WATCOM, and Open Text in a list of the top 100 independent software companies in Canada.[25]

In 2016, two sections of a corduroy road were unearthed. One was in the King Street area of the business district and the second was discovered near the Conestoga Mall. The road was probably built by Mennonites using technology acquired in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, between the late 1790s and 1816.[citation needed] The log road was buried in about 1840 and a new road built on top of it.[26][27] A historian[who?] explained that the road had been built for access to the mill but was also "one of the first roads cut through (the woods) so people could start settling the area".[28]


King Street South in Uptown Waterloo.

Waterloo's city centre is near the intersection of King and Erb streets. Since 1961, the centrepiece has been the Waterloo Town Square shopping centre, which underwent a renovation in 2006. Much of the mall was torn down and has been replaced by buildings that emphasize street-facing storefronts.

Residents refer to the Waterloo city centre as "uptown" (often capitalized), while "downtown" is reserved for the Kitchener city centre, as Kitchener had been the dominant centre, and Waterloo was a small town on the Kitchener's north side. Waterloo surged into a significant City in the third quarter of the 20th Century, due in large part to its role as a university city. It has also benefited from the growth of insurance companies. Waterloo has prospered with the relationship between the Tech Sector, which has blossomed, and the University of Waterloo whose technology graduates have excelled. Blackberry, formerly Research In Motion, is the best example.

The city centre was once along Albert Street, near the Marsland Centre and the Waterloo Public Library. The town hall, fire hall, and farmers' market were located there. Amidst some controversy, all were demolished between 1965 and 1969.


The Grand River flows southward along the city's east side. Its most significant tributary within the city is Laurel Creek, whose source lies just to the west of the city limits and its mouth just to the east, and crosses much of the city's central areas, including the University of Waterloo lands and Waterloo Park; it flows under the uptown area in a culvert. In the city's west end, the Waterloo Moraine provides over 300,000 people in the region with drinking water. Much of the gently hilly Waterloo Moraine underlies existing developed areas. Ongoing urban growth, mostly low-density residential suburbs (in accordance with requests by land developers), will cover increasing amounts of the remaining undeveloped portions of the Waterloo Moraine.

Uptown looking Northwest from the Uptown Parkade. Landmarks visible include the Marsland Centre on the extreme left and Waterloo City Hall on the extreme right.


Waterloo has a humid continental climate of the warm summer subtype (Dfb under the Köppen climate classification); this means that there are large seasonal differences, with warm, humid summers and cold winters. Compared to other parts of Canada, Waterloo has fairly moderate weather. Winter temperatures usually occur between mid-December and mid-March, while summer temperatures generally occur between mid-May and late September. It is not uncommon for temperatures to exceed 30 °C (86 °F) several times each summer. Waterloo has approximately 140 frost-free days per year.

Climate data for Waterloo Regional Airport (1981−2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high humidex 13.4 13.0 28.0 33.7 39.6 43.2 47.7 48.3 41.2 34.5 24.4 22.1 48.3
Record high °C (°F) 14.2
Average high °C (°F) −2.6
Daily mean °C (°F) −6.5
Average low °C (°F) −10.3
Record low °C (°F) −31.9
Record low wind chill −40.5 −37.1 −30.2 −20.6 −8.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 −4.1 −11.9 −22.2 −31.2 −40.5
Average precipitation mm (inches) 65.2
Average rainfall mm (inches) 28.7
Average snowfall cm (inches) 43.7
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 18.2 14.2 13.8 13.7 12.4 12.0 10.6 10.7 12.2 13.9 16.4 18.1 166.0
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm) 5.6 5.0 6.9 11.5 12.4 12.0 10.6 10.7 12.2 13.7 11.6 6.9 118.7
Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm) 16.1 11.9 9.0 3.3 0.18 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.91 6.5 14.4 62.2
Average relative humidity (%) (at 6am) 86.4 83.4 84.8 84.4 84.7 87.0 90.1 93.6 94.3 90.6 87.6 87.1 87.8
Source: Environment Canada[29]


Historical population
Source: Census of Population

In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Waterloo had a population of 121,436 living in 47,040 of its 52,049 total private dwellings, a change of 15.7% from its 2016 population of 104,986. With a land area of 64.06 km2 (24.73 sq mi), it had a population density of 1,895.7/km2 (4,909.7/sq mi) in 2021.[1]

At the census metropolitan area (CMA) level in the 2021 census, the Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo CMA had a population of 575,847 living in 219,060 of its 229,809 total private dwellings, a change of 9.9% from its 2016 population of 523,894. With a land area of 1,092.33 km2 (421.75 sq mi), it had a population density of 527.2/km2 (1,365.4/sq mi) in 2021.[1]

In 2016, the median age was 37.7 years old, lower than the national median age of 41.2 years old.[34]

The most common ethnic origins in Waterloo according to the 2016 census are German (23.3%), English (23.1%), Canadian (21.2%), Scottish (18.3%), Irish (17.4%), Chinese (9.9%), French (8.4%), Dutch (5.0%), Polish (5.0%) and East Indian (4.7%).[33]

According to the 2011 census, 63.6% of the population identify as Christian. Others identify as Muslim (4.5%), Hindu (1.8%), Buddhist (0.9%), Sikh (0.8%), and Jewish (0.6%). 27.3% of the population report no religious affiliation.[35]

Canada 2016 Census[33] Population % of Total
Visible minority group South Asian 6,650 6.4%
Chinese 9,565 9.3%
Black 1,990 1.9%
Filipino 545 0.5%
Latin American 1,405 1.4%
Arab 1,870 1.8%
Southeast Asian 1,185 1.1%
West Asian 1,150 1.1%
Korean 1,170 1.1%
Japanese 225 0.2%
Visible Minority n.i.e 610 0.6%
Multiple Visible Minorities 905 0.9%
Total visible minority population 27,265 26.4%
Aboriginal group First Nations 1,595 1.5%
Métis 655 0.6%
Inuit 25 0.0%
Total Aboriginal population 2,205 2.1%
White 73,920 71.5%
Total - 25% sample data 103,390 100%


The Sun Life Financial building is currently the tallest building in Waterloo.
The Marsland Centre in Uptown Waterloo
View from the parkade in Uptown Waterloo

According to the 2016 Canadian Census, Waterloo has a median household income (after tax) of $72,239. This is significantly higher than the national median of $61,348. The unemployment rate in Waterloo (6.9%) is lower than the national rate of 7.7%. The median value of a dwelling in Waterloo ($399,997) is higher than the national median of $341,556.[36]

Waterloo has a strong knowledge- and service-based economy with significant insurance and high-tech sectors as well as two universities.[37] The city's largest employers are Sun Life Financial, the University of Waterloo, Manulife Financial, BlackBerry,[38] Sandvine and Wilfrid Laurier University.[39][38]

The city is also home to three well-known think tanks – the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, an advanced centre for the study of foundational, theoretical physics and award-winning educational outreach in science; the Institute for Quantum Computing, based at the University of Waterloo, which carries out innovative research in the computer, engineering, mathematical and physical sciences; and the Centre for International Governance Innovation, an independent, nonpartisan think tank that addresses international governance challenges.

The city is part of Canada's Technology Triangle (CTT), a joint economic development initiative of Waterloo, Kitchener, Cambridge and the Region of Waterloo that markets the region internationally. Despite its name, CTT does not focus exclusively on promoting technology industries, but on all aspects of economic development.

Waterloo has a strong technology sector with hundreds of high-tech firms.[37] The dominant technology company in the city is BlackBerry, makers of the BlackBerry, which has its headquarters in the city and owns several office buildings near the University of Waterloo's main campus.

Notable Waterloo-based high-tech companies include:

Many other high-tech companies, with headquarters elsewhere, take advantage of the concentration of high-tech employees in the Waterloo area, and have research and development centres there. Shopify, SAP, Google, Oracle, Intel, McAfee, NCR Corporation, Electronic Arts and Agfa are among the large, international technology companies with development offices in Waterloo.

Before it became known for technology, Waterloo was sometimes[40] referred to as "the Hartford of Canada" because of the many insurance companies based in the area.[6] Manulife, Sun Life Financial, Equitable Life of Canada and Economical Insurance have a large presence in the city.

Breweries and distilleries had been a significant industry in the Waterloo area until 1993 when a Labatt-owned brewery was shut down. The Brick Brewing Company operated in Waterloo but is now based in Kitchener. Waterloo was the original home of distiller Seagram (also the home town of many descendants of J.P. Seagram), which closed its Waterloo plant in 1992. Of the remaining Seagram buildings, one became home of the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), while others were converted into condominiums.

The city encourages location filming of movies and TV series and many have taken advantage of Waterloo locations. Examples include Downsizing (released in 2017), The Demolisher (2015) and Degrassi: The Next Generation (2015).[41]

Arts and culture[edit]

Kitchener–Waterloo Oktoberfest is a nine day Oktoberfest celebration held in both Kitchener and Waterloo.[42][43] It is the second largest Oktoberfest celebration in the world,[44] and the largest outside of Germany. In 2013, CBC reported that the festival receives over 700,000 annual visitors, has 1,780 volunteers, was broadcast to 1.8 million national television viewers, and generated an estimated $21 million of economic activity.[42] Tri-Pride is a non-profit LGBT pride festival held annually during Pride Month in the "tri-cities" of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo.[45][46]

The Kitchener–Waterloo Symphony is located in Kitchener and, according to their website, performs over 222 concerts annually to an audience of over 90,000, both in the concert hall and across the Waterloo Region.[47] The Waterloo Busker Carnival is a busking festival held annually in August in Waterloo public square.[48][49] Admission is free, and the festival has been operating since 1989.[48] The Rainbow Reels Queer and Trans Film Festival is an annual LBGT film festival which screens at Princess Twin Cinemas in Uptown Waterloo.[50][51]

Inactive or past[edit]

The Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema was an annual film festival dedicated to feature-length animation films.[52][53] It was held from 2001 to 2013. The International Olympiad in Informatics, a competitive programming competition for secondary school students, was held in Waterloo in 2010.[54]


Waterloo is home to several notable tourist attractions and areas of interest. These include:


The Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex, then described as the "largest and most expensive project in the city's history", opened in 1993.[59] It includes an arena seating 3,500, swimming and banquet facilities, and an indoor track.[59] 123-hectare RIM Park, originally called Millennium Park, opened in September 2001.[60] Its features include outdoor soccer fields, ice rinks, baseball diamonds, basketball courts, meeting rooms and more.[60] RIM Park is in proximity to the Walter Bean Grand River Trail, Grey Silo Golf Course, and Waterloo Public Library's Eastside Branch.[60][61]

Trails for walking, hiking, and biking play an important part in Waterloo's recreational infrastructure. Waterloo had 150 kilometres (93 mi) of trails by 2007, as compared to 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) of trails in 1987.[62] In 1988, a trail network comprising 135 kilometers of trails connecting neighborhoods was proposed.[63] The 5-kilometre (3.1 mi) Iron Horse Trail, connecting Waterloo and Kitchener, opened in 1997.[63] Then-mayor Joan McKinnon brought upon the connection of the Trans Canada Trail into the Waterloo Region, which ran from the Iron Horse Trail to Waterloo's northern boundary.[62]

The 76-kilometre (47 mi)[64] Walter Bean Grand River Trail, announced in 1999, served to create an accessible trail along the Grand River.[62] Waterloo: An Illustrated History, 1857–2007 states, "[the trail] was particularly needed in Waterloo as the river's geographic location on the edge of the city meant that, unlike so many other Canadian cities, the river had not historically played a central role in the community."[62]


There are five main parks in the city:

  1. Waterloo Park is in Uptown Waterloo and contains historical buildings, a bandshell, and animal displays in its 45 hectares (110 acres).
  2. Bechtel Park occupies 44 hectares (110 acres) and has many outdoor sporting facilities along with wetlands, meadows and hardwood forest. The park also includes an off-leash dog park and adjacent city-operated cemetery. Hillside Park covers 25 hectares (62 acres) and includes two lighted ball diamonds.
  3. Lexington Park includes a ball diamond and a soccer pitch on the former site of the K-W Municipal Airport.
  4. Laurel Creek Conservation Area, at 300 hectares (740 acres), lies in the northwest of the city.


In July 2002, Waterloo, along with Kitchener, hosted the Ontario Summer Games.[65] The following sports teams are based in Waterloo: Waterloo Wildfire (National Ringette League), Waterloo Siskins (Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League), Waterloo United (League One Ontario), Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, and Waterloo Warriors.

There are two lawn bowling clubs serving Waterloo: Heritage Greens LBC and Kitchener LBC, which both function as part of District 7 of the Ontario Lawn Bowling Association.


Waterloo City Hall

Waterloo City Council consists of seven councillors, each representing a ward, and a mayor. The number of wards expanded from five to seven in the November 2006 elections. The current mayor of Waterloo is Dave Jaworsky, who was elected in October 2014.[66] The current Waterloo City Council is constituted as follows:

  • Ward 1 (Southwest): Sandra Hanmer
  • Ward 2 (Northwest): Royce Bodaly
  • Ward 3 (Lakeshore): Angela Vieth
  • Ward 4 (Northeast): Diane Freeman
  • Ward 5 (Southeast): Jen Vasic
  • Ward 6 (Central-Columbia): Jeff Henry
  • Ward 7 (Uptown): Tenille Bonoguore
Region of Waterloo Headquarters

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.

Waterloo was part of Waterloo County, Ontario until 1973 when a restructuring created the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, (often referred to as the Waterloo Region or the Region of Waterloo), which consists of the cities of Waterloo, Kitchener, and Cambridge, and the townships of Woolwich, Wilmot, Wellesley, and North Dumfries. The Region handles many services, including paramedic services, policing, waste management, recreation, planning, roads and social services.[67]

In federal politics, the city of Waterloo is entirely within the electoral district of the same name. In provincial politics, the city is also within the Waterloo electoral district.

The Waterloo Award[edit]

The Waterloo Award, established in 1997, is the highest civic honour a person can receive from the City of Waterloo.[68]


Waterloo as seen from Kitchener


The Conestoga Parkway, numbered as Highway 85 within Waterloo, connects Waterloo with Kitchener, Highway 7/8 (the continuation of the Conestoga Parkway), Ontario Highway 8, Highway 401 and Cambridge south of Highway 401.

Waterloo shares several of its north–south arterial roads with neighbouring Kitchener. They include (from east to west) Bridge Street, Weber Street, King Street, Westmount Road, Fischer-Hallman Road, and Ira Needles Boulevard. Regina Street (between Weber and King Streets) and Albert Street (between King Street and Westmount Road) are north–south collector roads entirely within Waterloo.

The city's east–west thoroughfares are almost entirely within city limits, with the exception of Union Street, which has a small section in Kitchener, and Bridgeport Road which has its eastern end in the Bridgeport area of Kitchener. Waterloo's major east–west arterial roads are (from south to north) Union Street, Erb Street, Bridgeport Road, University Avenue, Columbia Street, and Northfield Drive.

There are numerous bicycle pathways. The Iron Horse Trail, which originates in Kitchener, enters Uptown Waterloo and links with the Laurel Trail that extends into the northern part of the city.

Public transportation[edit]

GRT iXpress bus (to be adapted for the ION bus service)

Public transit was provided by the PUC[non sequitur] from 1888 to 1973, and included street cars (1888-1947) and trolley coaches (1947-1973).[69]

Public transport throughout the Waterloo Region is provided by Grand River Transit, created by a merger of Kitchener Transit (which served Waterloo) and Cambridge Transit in January 2000. As of 2020, GRT operates a number of local and express bus routes in Waterloo, with several running into Kitchener. The Kitchener Public Utilities Commission operated electric streetcars serving Kitchener and Waterloo until 1946. Electric trolley coaches replaced the streetcars, operating from January 1, 1947, to March 26, 1973. In September 2005 an express bus route called iXpress was added for runs from downtown Cambridge to Conestoga Mall in north Waterloo via Fairview Park Mall in south Kitchener. The ION light rail system travels between Conestoga station in Waterloo and Fairway station in Kitchener, with a total of 19 stations along the route. At Fairway station, ION light rail connects to the ION bus (Route 302) and travels to the Ainslie Street Terminal in Cambridge. Stage 2 will see the ION bus converted to light rail allowing for a full integration of the Waterloo Region.[70]

Light rapid transit[edit]

The Galt, Preston and Hespeler electric railway (later called the Grand River Railway) began to operate in 1894 connecting Preston and Galt. In 1911, the line reached Hespeler, Kitchener (then called Berlin) and Waterloo; by 1916 it had been extended to Brantford/Port Dover.[71][72] The electric rail system ended passenger services in April, 1955, leaving the city and region with no local rail services for more than 60 years.

In June 2011, the Waterloo Region council confirmed approval of the plan for a light rail transit line between Conestoga Mall in north Waterloo and Fairview Park Mall in south Kitchener, with rapid buses through to the "downtown Galt" area of Cambridge.[73] Service began June 21, 2019. In the current Stage 1, the Ion rapid transit trains run through the downtown/uptown areas of Kitchener and Waterloo.


Waterloo is not currently served by any regularly scheduled passenger rail service. Via Rail trains between Sarnia and Toronto stop at the nearby Kitchener railway station southeast of uptown Waterloo at the corner of Victoria Street and Weber Street. The station is accessible by local buses via Kitchener's downtown Charles Street transit terminal. A tourist train that previously ran out of Waterloo Station was moved to depart from St. Jacobs Farmers' Market when construction began on the ION Light Rail line.

The nearest GO Transit railway station is Kitchener GO Station, as the Kitchener Line (formerly the Georgetown Line) has extended to Kitchener on December 19, 2011. In addition, Waterloo is served by GO buses which stop at the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University, with destinations of Square One City Centre Terminal, Milton GO Station, and York University.

In May 2007, city council gave approval for a non-profit tourist train to run between Waterloo Station[74] and St. Jacobs, reviving the route of the Waterloo-St. Jacobs Railway from the late 1990s. In 2015, the railway lost regular running rights south of Northfield Drive to make way for the Ion rapid transit project. All Market Train service now departs from the St. Jacobs Farmers Market. The Waterloo Central Railway is run on trains at 10 am, 12 pm, and 2 pm from April to November. The Waterloo Station continues to operate as a Visitor & Heritage Information Centre[74] and is at 10 Father David Bauer Drive.


The Region of Waterloo International Airport in nearby Breslau serves Waterloo and the surrounding region, although it is not heavily served by scheduled airlines. Most air travellers use Toronto's Lester B. Pearson International Airport or John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport. WestJet has scheduled daily non-stop service to Calgary from Waterloo International Airport using Boeing 737-700 aircraft in the winter season and larger Boeing 737-800 aircraft in spring and summer season. They started service out of Region of Waterloo International Airport on May 14, 2007, for the summer season and then decided to fly year-round due to strong passenger demand. During the winter months Sunwing Airlines offers service to Dominican Republic. Recent upgrades to the runways, approach lighting and terminal building have permitted larger aircraft to use this airport. Airlines that no longer serve the airport include Trillium and Bearskin (to Ottawa), Mesaba (Northwest Airlines' feeder to Detroit), American Airlines (to Chicago) and Sky Service (to sun destinations).


Health care[edit]

St. Mary's General Hospital

Hospital services in the region are provided by Grand River Hospital which includes a Freeport Campus and St. Mary's General Hospital, both in Kitchener, as well as Cambridge Memorial Hospital.[75] All three were highly ranked for safety in a national comparison study in 2017–2018, particularly the two in Kitchener, but all would benefit from reduced wait times.[76] Long-term care beds are provided at numerous facilities.[77]

Region of Waterloo Paramedic Services and Waterloo Fire Rescue respond to medical emergencies within the city of Waterloo. Region of Waterloo Paramedic Services may transport patients to either Grand River Hospital or St. Mary's General Hospital emergency departments, depending on proximity, anticipated wait times and the type of emergency.

Grand River Hospital has a capacity of 574-beds; the Freeport location was merged into it in April 1995.[78] That secondary campus provides complex continuing care, rehabilitation, longer-term specialized mental health and other services.[79] The King St. location is also the home of the Grand River Regional Cancer Centre which opened in 2003.[80] St. Mary's General Hospital is a 150-bed adult acute-care facility and includes the Regional Cardiac Care Centre with two cardiovascular operating rooms, an eight-bed cardiovascular intensive care unit and 45 inpatient beds.[81][82] As of late 2018, Cambridge Memorial had 143 beds but was in the midst of a major expansion expected to be completed in 2021.[83]

Family doctors are often in short supply and a source of great concern among residents. Recruiting efforts over the previous 15 years certainly achieved some success as of September 2018, but needed to be continued.[84]

Announced January 2006, as a new School of Medicine, the Waterloo Regional Campus of McMaster University was completed in 2009. In 2018, the Waterloo campus included "a complete on-site clinical skills laboratory with 4 skills rooms and 2 observation rooms, classrooms with video-conferencing capabilities and a state-of-the-art anatomy lab that was built in 2013 with a high definition video system", according to the university. Its Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine building includes the Centre for Family Medicine and the University of Waterloo School of Optometry and Vision Science.[85]


The entrance to Waterloo Public Library's Main Branch in 2002.

The Waterloo Public Library was founded in 1888. As of 2022, the library has 4 branches (in order of opening): the Main Branch, the Albert McCormick Branch, the John M. Harper Branch and the Eastside Branch.[86] The Waterloo’s Mechanics’ Institute, formed in 1875, was the origin of the Waterloo Public Library.[87] Operating out of the then town hall, they offered books at a subscription fee.[87] The fees were abolished in 1887-8 and the city took control over the library, calling it Waterloo Free Library.[87] In 1905, a Carnegie library was built to house the books, across from the current location of the Main Branch, which replaced it in 1964.[87] The Eastside Branch, opened May 7, 2022, is the newest branch built.[88] The $10-million library is built into the existing RIM Park Manulife Sportsplex and has around 35,000 books.[88]

Fire Protection[edit]

Fire protection and rescue services are provided by Waterloo Fire Rescue, a service of the City of Waterloo. As of 2020, there are four active fire stations in Waterloo. Waterloo Fire Rescue responds to fires, medical emergencies, car accidents and chemical incidents.[89] (Region of Waterloo Paramedic Services also responds to medical emergencies.) When the two-tier regional government system was implemented in the early 1970s, police service was moved to the regional government, but fire service remained at the local municipality (city or township) level. From time to time, the media and interested parties raise the question of whether this service should remain at the city level, or whether there might be cost savings or service improvements if the various fire services were merged into regional fire service. A 2019 newspaper article stated that "there would likely be no cost savings, but service would improve under [a] regionalized system," in the view of some former fire chiefs.[90]


Waterloo Regional Police Service, the seventh-largest police service in the province of Ontario, provides general police service in the city of Waterloo.[91] The Waterloo Regional Police North Division is located at 45 Columbia Street East, Waterloo. Waterloo Regional Police also serve the municipalities of Kitchener and Cambridge and the Townships of Wellesley, Wilmot, Woolwich and North Dumfries. City of Waterloo bylaws controlling matters such as parking, weeds and noise are enforced by city bylaw enforcement officers.[92] The two universities each have special constables who are first responders to all emergencies at their respective university campuses. Special Constables may lay charges and/or make arrests under the same legal authority as police officers.[93] As of 2019, University of Waterloo Police Service had twenty-four Special Constables.[94][95] Wilfrid Laurier University also has a Special Constable Service. The Ontario Provincial Police patrols provincial highways.[96] Two homicides were reported in the Waterloo Region in 2021, neither of which was in the city of Waterloo.[97]


The Intelligent Community Forum named Waterloo the Top Intelligent Community of 2007.[98]


Until the 1960s, with a few minor exceptions, Waterloo students would attend high school in Berlin/Kitchener. In 1914, Waterloo Lutheran Seminary added a high school department, named the College School, primarily to provide secondary education for prospective seminary students. The College School was discontinued in 1929. Between 1940 and 1950, due to overcrowding in Kitchener–Waterloo Collegiate and Vocational School, some grade nine classes were housed in Elizabeth Ziegler Public School.

Starting in the 1960s, several high schools opened in Waterloo. In 1958 it was announced that Waterloo would have its own secondary school. A $1,247,268 school was built on a 20-acre (81,000 m2) site on Hazel Street. Waterloo Collegiate Institute opened on September 6, 1960. In 1968, Laurel Vocational School (later University Heights Secondary School) opened, and in 1972 Waterloo's third public high school, Bluevale Collegiate Institute, opened. In 1965, St. David Senior School, which served grades 7–10, opened in the north of the city. St. David was turned into a high school in 1985 and was renamed St. David Catholic Secondary School. University Heights Secondary School closed in 2004 and Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary School opened that same year.

As of 2007, there were five high schools based in Waterloo. Three are operated by the Waterloo Region District School Board: Bluevale Collegiate Institute (east), Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary School (west), and Waterloo Collegiate Institute (central). Two are operated by the Waterloo Catholic District School Board: St. David Catholic Secondary School and Resurrection Catholic Secondary School.


The main campuses of the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University are in Waterloo. This includes the many associated universities and colleges, including St. Jerome's University, St. Paul's University College, Conrad Grebel University College, Renison University College and the Balsillie School of International Affairs. Kitchener-based Conestoga College also has a Waterloo campus, at the former University Heights Secondary School on University Avenue near Weber Street. Conestoga purchased the building in January 2006 for nearly $6 million from the Waterloo Region District School Board. It is double the size of its previous Waterloo campus on King Street, which was sold after the University Heights building was acquired.


Notable people[edit]

  • Walter Bowman (Born 1870), First non-British player to play in the English Football League.
  • Lorna Geddes (born 1943), ballerina with National Ballet of Canada

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]