The tenth-largest city in Canada (and the fourth in Ontario) is the merged twin cities of Kitchener-Waterloo. Ranked as one of the top 5 best places to live in Canada for quality of life, prices, job opportunities, crime, etc, Kitchener-Waterloo is a welcoming home to nearly half a million people.
The town of Kitchener was established in 1854 and largely settled by German immigrants. Then it was called “New Berlin” and kept this name until the outbreak of the First World War when it was changed to “Kitchener” in honour of the British Field Marshall fighting the Germans at the time. Its German heritage is felt strongly today, with many people officially speaking German as a second language. Waterloo, the smaller of the two cities, was settled in 1804 by Pennsylvania Dutch who bargained good deals from the local Iroquois tribe that originally lived here. in 1816 the small Mennonite town was officially named Waterloo in commemoration of the victory over Napolean that had occurred earlier that year. The two southern Ontario towns, being strategically located on the Grand River and in the center of bustling southern Ontario, grew rapidly during the late 19th Century and early 20th, until their borders began to merge.
In 1973 the two cities merged with a third, Cambridge, to form the Regional Municipality of Waterloo. Although all three cities retain their independent city governments, the Regional government has authority and the twin cities (Kitchener and Waterloo) are viewed as one by the provincial government, media and many locals. As a result, most people refer to the area as “KW”.
Kitchener-Waterloo is a fast-growing city to live in. The cities host two major Universities and a technical college, as well as the global headquarters of Blackberry, the Canadian headquarters of Manulife and Sun Life Financial, and the home of Schnieders meat products.
Kitchener-Waterloo boasts a high quality of life for its citizens. Although the cities have more than 500,000 people, there is a real small-town feel to it, stemming back to its farming and pioneering history. The city has affordable housing prices, a great transportation and infrastructure network and year-round festivals. With the most parkland per person in Ontario, there are countless outdoor opportunities including hiking, camping, canoeing, fishing, hunting, skiing and other nature adventures. The meandering Grand River is beautiful in all seasons, and the city is only a 45-minute drive to Toronto to the east or the beaches of Lake Huron to the west. Niagara Falls is an hour to the south and the cottage country of the Bruce Peninsula is only 90 minutes away. A vast public transit network, including trains, buses and the Go Transit commuter system means that people don’t require a car to get around southern Ontario.
Come visit a jewel of southern Ontario, Kitchener-Waterloo!
The Kitchener skyline
Waterloo’s historic skyline
Downtown Kitchener keeps its small-town charm despite rapid growth.
Market Square in downtown Kitchener is a modernized mall on the site of the original farmer’s market.
Housing in the area remains relatively affordable. Waterloo is viewed as the more upscale half, so prices are higher there.
RIM, makers of the Blackberry, are headquartered in Waterloo. The region has a large IT sector which has helped fuel the local economy.
The Manulife Financial building in Waterloo.
The Sun Life Financial building in downtown Waterloo is the tallest building in the area.
Grand River Transit is a highly-efficient bus system that serves the KW region.
The beautiful Grand River runs through KW.
The countryside around KW is a mix of forest, parkland and farms.
A local farm.
Mennonites still live in the area and are a regular site, particularly near Waterloo.
The St Jacobs Farmers’ Market is a draw for tourists and locals alike.
The St Jacobs Farmers’ Market
Kitchener is home to Schneiders (now Maple Leaf Foods), the historic sausage and hot dog maker.
The Schneider’s factory in 1944, helping the war effort.
Downtown Kitchener circa 1960
Downtown Kitchener circa 1875
History plays a strong part in the feeling of community here.
J. M. Schneider Haus, now a National Historic Site.
Historic churches are found all over the region.
Another National Historic Site, this farm was part of the Underground Railroad, helping runaway slaves escape to freedom in Canada.
Oktoberfest is the biggest festival in the region and celebrates German culture.
Oktoberfest is known as a week-long party for young and old alike.
Oktoberfest features parades, concerts, events and of course, beer.
Kitchener Oktoberfest draws more than 100,000 tourists every year!
Kitchener Bluesfest is another big crowd pleaser.
The University of Waterloo campus.
Laurier Univeristy main campus.
Conestoga College main campus.
Grand River in winter. All seasons are beautiful in this region!
In autumn, southern Ontario explodes into colours. The KW region is no exception!
The Grand River in autumn.
Ontario’s Highway 401 passes through Kitchener-Waterloo, giving quick and easy access to all of Ontario’s attractions.
The Go Train, Toronto’s cheap and efficient commuter system, also reaches out to Kitchener-Waterloo.
Kitchener’s central bus depot offers cheap Greyhound travel to all points in Ontario.
Niagara Falls is an hour south of KW.
Toronto is only a 45-minute drive from KW, and about the same on the train.
Ontario’s Great Lake beaches are only an hour’s drive away!
The surrounding forests are filled with wildlife.
Blue Jays are common and are the unofficial bird of Southern Ontario.
Canada Geese are regular inhabitants of the Grand River region.
Kitchener-Waterloo is a haven for Ontario’s ubiquitous black squirrels.
Although the region gets a lot of snow in winter, temperatures rarely drop below -10 celcius.
Summers are getting increasingly hot and humid, with average August temperatures around +35 celcius. Water and air conditioning are a necessity.
People can cool off in Kitchener’s Bingeman Water Park.
Christmas in Kitchener-Waterloo!