Some pictures of downtown Kitchener taken last night, including Kitchener city hall and the Walper terrace hotel.
The City of Kitchener is a city in Southern Ontario, Canada. It was the Town of Berlin from 1854 until 1912 and the City of Berlin from 1912 until 1916. The city had a population of 204,668 in the Canada 2006 Census. The metropolitan area, which includes the neighbouring cities of Waterloo and Cambridge, has 451,235 people, making it the eleventh largest Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) in Canada and the fifth largest CMA in Ontario. It is the seat of the Waterloo Regional Municipality, and is adjacent to the smaller cities of Cambridge to the south, and Waterloo to the north. Kitchener and Waterloo are often referred to jointly as “Kitchener-Waterloo” (K-W), although they have separate municipal governments. Including Cambridge, the three cities are known as “the tri-cities”.
The City of Kitchener covers an area of 136.86 square kilometres. In 2004, the city celebrated its 150th anniversary.
In 1784, the land that Kitchener was built upon was an area given to the Six Nations by the British as a gift for their allegiance during the American Revolution; 240,000 hectares of land to be exact. From 1796 and 1798, the Six Nations sold 38,000 hectares of this land to a Loyalist by the name of Colonel Richard Beasley. The portion of land that Beasley had purchased was remote but it was of great interest to German Mennonite farming families from Pennsylvania. They wanted to live in an area that would allow them to practice their beliefs without persecution. Eventually, the Mennonites purchased all of Beasley’s unsold land creating 160 farm tracts. By 1800, the first buildings were built, and over the next decade several families made the difficult trip north to what was then known as the Sand Hills. One of these Mennonite families, arriving in 1807, was the Schneiders, whose restored 1816 home (the oldest building in the city) is now a museum located in the heart of Kitchener. Other families whose names can still be found in local place names were the Bechtels, the Ebys, the Erbs, the Weavers (better known today as the Webers) the Cressmans and the Brubachers. In 1816 the Government of Upper Canada designated the settlement the Township of Waterloo.
Much of the land, made up of moraines and swampland interspersed with rivers and streams, was converted to farmland and roads. Wild pigeons, which once swarmed by the tens of thousands, were driven from the area. Apple trees were introduced to the region by John Eby in the 1830s, and several grist- and sawmills (most notably Joseph Schneider’s 1816 sawmill, John and Abraham Erb’s grist- and sawmills and Eby’s cider mill) were erected throughout the area. Schneider built the town’s first road, from his home to the corner of King Street and Queen Street (then known as Walper corner). $1000 was raised by the settlers to extend the road from Walper corner to Huether corner, where the Huether Brewery was built and the Huether Hotel now stands; a petition to the government for $100 to assist in completing the project was denied.
Immigration to the town increased considerably from 1816 until the 1870s, many of the newcomers being of German (particularly Mennonite) extraction. In 1833 the town was renamed Berlin, and in 1853 Berlin became the County Seat of the newly created County of Waterloo, elevating it to the status of Village. The extension of the Grand Trunk Railway from Sarnia to Toronto (and hence through Berlin) in July 1856 was a major boon to the community, helping to improve industrialization in the area. On June 9, 1912, Berlin was officially designated a city.
However, with the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 came anti-German sentiment and an internal conflict ensued as the city was forced to confront its cultural distinctiveness. There was pressure for the city to change its name from Berlin, and in 1916 following much debate and controversy, the name of the city was changed to Kitchener; named after Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener, who died that year, while serving as the Secretary of State for War of the United Kingdom.
On September 17, 1981, the first ever “blue box” recycling program was launched in Kitchener. Today, more than 90% of Ontario households have access to recycling programs and annually they divert more than 650,000 tonnes of secondary resource materials. The blue box program has expanded in various forms throughout Canada and to countries around the world such as the United States, United Kingdom, France and Australia, serving more than 40 million households around the world.
Kitchener’s oldest and most important outdoor park is Victoria Park, in the heart of downtown Kitchener. Numerous events and festivities are held in this park.
A cast-bronze statue of Queen Victoria is located in Victoria Park, along with a cannon. The statue was unveiled in May 1911, on Victoria Day (the Queen’s birthday) in the tenth year after her death. The Princess of Wales Chapter of the IODE raised the $6,000 needed for the monument.
The city has announced the construction of a new Gaukel Street entrance to Victoria Park. Gaukel Street is to be used as a corridor linking Victoria Park to City Hall. The new entrance will include a complete streetscape upgrade on Gaukel Street with new lighting, stamped concrete, and other features. The new entrance to the park itself will include stone masonry gates, walkways, new lighting, flower gardens, a pond complete with waterfalls, and a sculpture created by artist Ernest Daetwyler.
Another significant beauty spot in the city is Rockway Gardens. Adjacent to the Rockway golf course, the gardens occupy a long narrow strip of land alongside King Street as it rushes down to meet the Conestoga Parkway and become Highway 8. Here there are many fountains, ponds, waterfalls and rock grottoes. It is a popular site for wedding photos in the summer months.
Kitchener has an extensive and safe community trail system. The trails, which are controlled and run by the city, are hundreds of kilometres in length. Due to Kitchener’s close proximity to the Grand River, several community trails and paths border the river’s shores. This convenient access to the Grand River has drawn nature-seeking tourists to the city. However, Kitchener’s trails and especially natural areas remain underfunded by city council and as a result, many are not adequately maintained.
A newly constructed bike park located at McLennan park in the city’s south end has already been hailed as one of the best city run bike parks in Southern Ontario by BMX and mountain biking enthusiasts. The bike park offers a four-cross (4X) section, a pump track section, a jump park, and a free-ride couse.