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Waterloo, Ontario

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

City of Waterloo
From top, left to right: Uptown Waterloo, Waterloo City Hall, an Ion rapid transit train, the Huether Hotel, the Perimeter Institute, Davis Center in the University of Waterloo, and Seagram Lofts.
Flag of Waterloo
Official logo of Waterloo
Waterloo is located in Regional Municipality of Waterloo
Waterloo is located in Southern Ontario
Waterloo is located in Canada
Waterloo is located in Earth
Coordinates: 43°28′N 80°31′W / 43.467°N 80.517°W / 43.467; -80.517
IncorporatedMay 27, 1857[1]
 • 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) west-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.[2]


Indigenous peoples and settlement

According to the city, indigenous peoples lived in its area, including the Iroquois, Anishinaabe and Neutral Nation.[4]

After the end of the American Revolution, Joseph Brant, a Mohawk war chief, wanted Frederick Haldimand to give the Mohawk and Six Nations a tract of land surrounding the Grand River, in return for their loyalty to the British in the war.[5][6] Haldimand's 1784 Haldimand Proclamation granted the land "six miles deep from either side of the [Grand River] beginning at Lake Erie and extending in that proportion to the very head of the said river."[5][6] Haldimand, who had previously ordered for potential mill sites to be identified in the region, decreed in 1788 that mill sites would be included in the grant (which would not have been included otherwise).[7] In 1796, Richard Beasley purchased Block Number 2 of the grant from Joseph Brant (on behalf of the Six Nations) with a mortgage held by the Six Nations.[8] 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.[8] 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.[9] 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.[citation needed] 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.[10] The payment to Beasley, in cash, arrived from Pennsylvania in kegs, carried in a wagon surrounded by armed guards.[11]

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.[12]

Development (19th century)

The Mennonites divided the land into smaller lots; two lots owned by Abraham Erb—who is often called the founder of the Village of Waterloo[13]—became the central core of Waterloo. Erb had come to the area in 1806 from Pennsylvania.[7] He had bought 4,000 acres (1,600 ha) from the German Company Tract and settled where there was enough water power to operate mills.[7] He founded a sawmill in 1808 and grist mill in 1816; they saw business flourish.[13] 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.[12][14] 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.[15][16][17]

The first schoolhouse in Waterloo, built in 1820
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.[18] The German spoken in Waterloo County is based upon the 18th century Pennsylvania Dutch dialect.[19] In turn, the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect is based upon the dialect of German spoken in southwestern Germany.[19]

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.[20] 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.[21]

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.[22][23] 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.[24] By comparison, Berlin (Kitchener) had a population of about 400, also "mostly German", and more tradesmen than the village of Waterloo.[25]

Berlin was chosen as the site of the seat for the County of Waterloo in 1853. By 1869, the population was 2000.[26] Waterloo was incorporated as a village in 1857 and became the Town of Waterloo in 1876 and the City of Waterloo in 1948.[4]

20th and 21st centuries

The presence of the University of Waterloo in the city induced technological and innovative companies to base in Waterloo,[27] 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.[28] 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.[28]

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.[29][30] 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".[31]

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.


King Street South in Uptown Waterloo
King Street South in Uptown Waterloo

Waterloo's city centre is near the intersection of King and Erb streets. 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.

Historically, Waterloo's swamp land near where the village was first developed caused problems for development.[7] To mitigate these issues, sand was taken from nearby areas to raise the land; buildings were built on foundations of oak planks; and King Street was originally built as a corduroy road.[13]


The Grand River, as seen to the north-east of Waterloo
The Grand River, as seen to the north-east of Waterloo

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.


Waterloo has a humid continental climate of the warm summer subtype (Dfb under the Köppen climate classification);[32] 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 −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[33]


Historical population
Source: Census of Population

As of the 2021 Canadian census conducted by Statistics Canada, Waterloo has a population of 121,436, a change of 15.7% from its 2016 population of 104,986.[2] With a land area of 64.06 km2 (24.73 sq mi), the city has a population density of 1,895.7/km2 (4,909.7/sq mi).[2] As of 2021, the median age is 36.0 years old, as compared to 37.7 in 2016.[2][38] Waterloo's median age is 13% lower than Ontario's median age, which is 41.6 years old.[39]

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%).[37] 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.[40]

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.[2]

Canada 2016 Census[37] 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 Sun Life Financial building is currently the tallest building in Waterloo.
The Marsland Centre in Uptown Waterloo
The Marsland Centre in Uptown Waterloo
View from the parkade 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.[41] 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.[41] The Intelligent Community Forum named Waterloo the Top Intelligent Community of 2007.[42]

Waterloo has a strong knowledge and service-based economy with significant insurance and high-tech sectors as well as two universities.[43] The city's largest employers are Sun Life Financial, the University of Waterloo, Manulife Financial, BlackBerry,[44] Sandvine and Wilfrid Laurier University.[45][44]

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.[43] 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[46] referred to as "the Hartford of Canada" because of the many insurance companies based in the area.[9] 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).[47]

Arts and culture

Elizabeth Witmer taps a keg to begin 1996's KW Oktoberfest
Elizabeth Witmer taps a keg to begin 1996's KW Oktoberfest

Kitchener–Waterloo Oktoberfest is a nine-day Oktoberfest celebration held in both Kitchener and Waterloo.[48][49] It is the second largest Oktoberfest celebration in the world,[50] 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.[48] Tri-Pride is a non-profit LGBT pride festival held annually during Pride Month in the "tri-cities" of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo.[51][52]

The Kitchener–Waterloo Symphony is located in Kitchener. According to their website, they perform over 222 concerts annually to an audience of over 90,000, both in the concert hall and across the Waterloo Region.[53] The Waterloo Busker Carnival is a busking festival held annually in August in Waterloo public square.[54][55] Admission is free, and the festival has been operating since 1989.[54] The Rainbow Reels Queer and Trans Film Festival is an annual LBGT film festival which screens at Princess Twin Cinemas in Uptown Waterloo.[56][57]

Inactive or past

The Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema was an annual film festival dedicated to feature-length animation films.[58][59] 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.[60]


Waterloo's local tourist tourist attractions and areas of interest include: the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery, the Waterloo Central Railway, the City of Waterloo Museum,[61] a statue of monkeys entitled "Banana",[62] the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, the St. Jacobs Farmers' Market[63] (although the market is just outside city limits), University of Waterloo's Earth Sciences Museum, and Conestoga Mall.


External interactive map
3D model icon An interactive map created by the city, depicting the city's recreation facilities. Index: parks are outlined in thin green, outdoor skating rinks are cyan markers, cycling infrastructure are thick lines and trails are thick blue lines

Waterloo's parks and recreation facilities mainly comprise Waterloo Park, Bechtel Park, Laurel Creek Conservation Area, the Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex, RIM Park, and over 150 kilometres (93 mi) of mixed-use trails.


Created in 1890,[64] 45-hectare (110-acre) Waterloo Park is an urban park in Uptown Waterloo which includes an animal farm, sports fields, and a splash pad.[65] It is the oldest park in the city; the mixed-use Laurel Trail and the rapid transit Ion line both run through the park.[66] 44-hectare (110-acre) Bechtel Park is located in eastern Waterloo, and houses a dog park, three soccer fields, a field house, and more.[67] Laurel Creek Conservation Area is in western Waterloo—north-west of University of Waterloo's Environmental Reserve—and houses 122 campsites, 4.5 kilometres (2.8 mi) of trails, and facilities for canoeing, swimming, windsurfing, cycling, and sailing.[68][69]

The Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex, then described as the "largest and most expensive project in the city's history", opened in 1993.[70] It includes an arena seating 3,500, swimming and banquet facilities, and an indoor track.[70] 123-hectare (300-acre) RIM Park, originally called Millennium Park, opened in September 2001.[71] Its features include outdoor soccer fields, ice rinks, baseball diamonds, basketball courts, meeting rooms and more.[71] RIM Park is in proximity to the Walter Bean Grand River Trail, Grey Silo Golf Course, and Waterloo Public Library's Eastside Branch.[71][72] There are a number of small playgrounds, woodlots, and recreation facilities around Waterloo which are not mentioned above due to their size.

Mixed-use trails

The Walter Bean Grand River Trail, with the Grand River seen in the background
The Walter Bean Grand River Trail, with the Grand River seen in the background

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.[73] In 1988, a trail network comprising 135 kilometers of trails connecting neighborhoods was proposed.[74] The 5-kilometre (3.1 mi) Iron Horse Trail, connecting Waterloo and Kitchener, opened in 1997.[74] 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.[73]

The 76-kilometre (47 mi)[75] Walter Bean Grand River Trail, announced in 1999, served to create an accessible trail along the Grand River.[73] 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."[73]


In July 2002, Waterloo, along with Kitchener, hosted the Ontario Summer Games.[76] 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.


Waterloo City Hall
Waterloo City Hall

Waterloo was part of Waterloo County until 1973 when a restructuring created the Regional Municipality 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.[77] The Waterloo Award, established in 1997, is the highest civic honour a person can receive from the City of Waterloo.[78]

Waterloo City Council consists of a mayor and seven councillors, each representing a ward. The number of wards was increased from five to seven in the November 2006 elections. As of 2022, the mayor of Waterloo is Dave Jaworsky, elected in October 2014.[79] The current Waterloo councilors are as follows, as of 2022, listed by ascending ward number: Sandra Hanmer (Southwest Ward), Royce Bodaly (Northwest Ward), Angela Vieth (Lakeshore Ward), Diane Freeman (Northeast Ward), Jen Vasic (Southeast Ward), Jeff Henry (Central-Columbia Ward), and Tenille Bonoguore (Uptown Ward).[80]

In politics, Waterloo is within the federal electoral district of Waterloo, and within the provincial electoral district also named Waterloo.



The road system and city limits of Waterloo

Highway 85, part of the larger Conestoga Parkway, is the only controlled-access highway that runs through Waterloo. To the north, the divided freeway ends at the city limit, and the road becomes Waterloo Regional Road 85, which accesses St. Jacobs and Elmira, before ending in Elmira. To the south, Highway 85 becomes Highway 7 within Kitchener, before diverging into eastbound Highway 8 (to Cambridge, Highway 401 interchange, and Hamilton) and westbound Highway 7/8 (to New Hamburg, Stratford, and Goderich).

Highway 85 has 5 interchanges within Waterloo, from north to south, with the regional road number in brackets: King Street (15), Northfield Drive (50), King Street (15), University Avenue (57), and Bridgeport Road (9).

Public transportation

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

Public transit was provided by the Kitchener Public Utilities Commission from 1888 to 1973, and included street cars (1888–1947) and trolley coaches (1947–1973).[81] 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 Berlin) and Waterloo; by 1916 it had been extended to Brantford / Port Dover.[82][83] The Kitchener Public Utilities Commission operated electric streetcars serving Kitchener and Waterloo until 1946. 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. Electric trolley coaches replaced the streetcars, operating from January 1, 1947, to March 26, 1973.

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. 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. 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.

Light rapid transit

Ion unit 507 at Queen Station in 2018
Ion unit 507 at Queen Station in 2018

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.[84] 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. 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.[85]


Waterloo is not currently served by any regularly scheduled passenger rail service. Both Via Rail and GO Transit run trains to the nearby Kitchener station: GO Transit via the Kitchener line and Via Rail via its Ontario-Québec route.[86][87] Kitchener station is accessible to Waterloo through buses, or can be reached by transferring from Ion's Kitchener Central Station. Both rail operators run infrequent trains. On weekdays, commuter rail GO trains run eastbound (to Toronto) nine times per day, and westbound eight times per day.[88] No Kitchener line trains are run on the weekends.[88] Including weekends, Via Rail operates one train per day, both westbound and eastbound.[86][89][90]

The non-profit tourist railway Waterloo Central Railway is a revival of the Waterloo-St. Jacobs Railway. It departs from the St. Jacobs Farmers Market and runs 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.[91]


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.[citation needed] As of 2022, the Region of Waterloo International Airport has year round flights to Calgary, Cancun, Charlottetown, Deer Lake, Edmonton, Halifax, Kelowna, Vancouver, and Winnipeg.[92] The airport has seasonal flights to Montreal and Ottawa.[92] As of 2022, the airport's airlines are Flair Airlines, Pivot Airlines, and WestJet.[92]


Health care

St. Mary's General Hospital
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.[93] 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.[94] Long-term care beds are provided at numerous facilities.[95]

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.[96] That secondary campus provides complex continuing care, rehabilitation, longer-term specialized mental health and other services.[97] The King St. location is also the home of the Grand River Regional Cancer Centre which opened in 2003.[98] 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.[99][100] As of late 2018, Cambridge Memorial had 143 beds but was in the midst of a major expansion expected to be completed in 2021.[101]

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.[102]

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.[103]


The entrance to Waterloo Public Library's Main Branch in 2002
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.[104] The Waterloo's Mechanics' Institute, formed in 1875, was the origin of the Waterloo Public Library.[105] Operating out of the then town hall, they offered books at a subscription fee.[105] The fees were abolished in 1887-8 and the city took control over the library, calling it Waterloo Free Library.[105] 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.[105] The Eastside Branch, opened May 7, 2022, is the newest branch built.[106] The $10-million library is built into the existing RIM Park Manulife Sportsplex and has around 35,000 books.[106]

Fire protection

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.[107] (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.[108]


Waterloo Regional Police Service, the seventh-largest police service in the province of Ontario, provides general police service in the city of Waterloo.[109] 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.[110] 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.[111] As of 2019, University of Waterloo Police Service had twenty-four Special Constables.[112][113] Wilfrid Laurier University also has a Special Constable Service. The Ontario Provincial Police patrols provincial highways.[114] Two homicides were reported in the Waterloo Region in 2021, neither of which was in the city of Waterloo.[115]


The Waterloo Region District School Board is the region's public school board. As of 2022, in Waterloo, they run 21 elementary schools (see List of Waterloo Region, Ontario schools) and three secondary schools, which are Bluevale Collegiate Institute, Laurel Heights Secondary School, and Waterloo Collegiate Institute.[116] The Waterloo Catholic District School Board is the region's catholic school board. As of 2022, in Waterloo, they run 8 elementary schools[117] and one secondary school, which is St. David Catholic Secondary School.[118] There are a number of private and other schools not associated with the above boards, but there are no secondary schools in Waterloo unassociated with the boards.[119][120]

Waterloo is home to the following universities and colleges: the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, St. Jerome's University, St. Paul's University College, Conrad Grebel University College, Renison University College, and Conestoga College (based in Kitchener but has a Waterloo campus). The University of Waterloo is a public research university that saw 37,884 students in 2022.[121] The university has the largest post-secondary co-op program in the world[122] and ranked 151–200 in the world and 7–8 in Canada in the 2021 Academic Ranking of World Universities.[123] Wilfrid Laurier University saw about 20,000 students in 2022, including its campuses in Brantford and Milton.[124]


The Waterloo Region Record is a daily newspaper that covers the Region of Waterloo,[125] while the Waterloo Chronicle covers the city;[126] both are published by Metroland Media Group. There are a number of FM radio stations that reach Waterloo, (see Media in Waterloo Region#Radio) although CKMS-FM is the only to broadcast out of the city.[127] CKGL (570 News) is the only AM radio station broadcasting from the Region.[127] CKCO-DT (CTV Kitchener) is the only television station that broadcasts from the Region.

Notable people

  • 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


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External links

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