The Regional Municipality of Waterloo is a culturally diverse and quickly growing community, located amid the beautiful and fertile countryside of South-Western Ontario. The former home of Iroquois, Seneca and Mohawk First Nations Peoples, the land which would eventually become Waterloo Region was first settled on a large scale by European descendants in the early 1800’s, who were attracted initially by the richness of the land and its potential for agricultural productivity. The village of Shade’s Mills, which would eventually grow into the modern city of Galt (today part of the city of Cambridge), was the region’s first large-scale settlement, founded in 1816. Further communities would spring up in the future Waterloo Region, as more and more people were attracted to the growing local economy, and as homegrown industry also began to take root. Notable early settlers also included many German-speaking Mennonites – a cultural spark which would also lead to the subsequent migration of substantial numbers of ethnic German settlers. Waterloo Region today still bears traces of this German heritage, in its cultural festivals, ethnic clubs, and even in many of our local street names.
From these humble beginnings, Waterloo Region has, today, expanded into a vibrant community of over 620,000 people, and is composed of seven cities and townships: the cities of Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo, in addition to the less populous townships of Woolwich, Wellesley, Wilmont and North Dumfries. The majority of the inhabitants of Waterloo Region are concentrated in the cities of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge, with Kitchener-Waterloo alone combining for close to 375,000 people, according to reports published by the Region of Waterloo. Our local municipality is recognized as one of the fastest-growing communities in all of Ontario, with its population projected to exceed 920,000 by the year 2051. This population growth is reflective of the enormous potential of our local businesses and the draw of our many cultural festivals and attractions. The local housing market continues to boom, and the time has never been better to come see what Waterloo Region has to offer!
As mentioned, an early wave of German-speaking Mennonite settlers were among the first to settle the northern parts of Waterloo Region, and their initial success inspired other ethnic German settles to follow in their footsteps. (Interestingly, the City of Kitchener was itself known as Berlin until 1916 – when wider public sentiment forced the city’s name to be changed to Kitchener, in recognition of the late British Field Marshall). As a result, the Kitchener-Waterloo area in particular has retained a strong German cultural presence, culminating annually every fall in Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest – the world’s largest Bavarian festival beyond the borders of Germany itself! Thousands of festers are drawn to the region every year to participate in the celebration of all things Bavarian – from traditional foods and costumes, to music and dancing… and of course, to the Bavarian tradition of enjoying great beer.
The region’s many cultural attractions are not, however, limited to those of a German flavour. Many local museums and galleries celebrate the region’s proud tradition of supporting the arts, while the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony maintains a nation-wide reputation for its great weekly performances of various classical and non-classical works. For the more athletically-minded, the Kitchener Rangers, playing in the Ontario Hockey League, are one of the province’s most successful and exciting hockey clubs, and a wide variety of athletic organizations, leagues, and clubs operate locally. From curling, to tennis, to baseball – recreational activities are never too far at hand, no matter what your level of skill.
Waterloo Region has long been identified as a hub of higher education in Ontario, with three of the largest post-secondary schools in the area possessing sterling reputations for innovation, as well as the high-quality and marketability of their graduates. The University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, and Conestoga Technical College not only serve the local population as centres for education, research and technological innovation – they also attract a substantial proportion of their students from beyond Canada and overseas. The University of Waterloo’s reputation in the fields of applied mathematics, engineering, and computer science is, in particular, internationally recognized and respected. Both the University of Waterloo and Wilfred Laurier regularly place near the top of McLean’s annual publication of the top undergraduate universities in the country. Meanwhile, Conestoga College remains a rapidly-expanding and increasingly prestigious destination for those students who look to excel in a variety of trades and concrete applications.
In years to come, the strong reputation of these three schools in particular will continue to attract the brightest minds in Canada and beyond, and will continue to serve as engines of invention and modernization for the local economy.
Over the past number of decades, it’s no accident that some of Canada’s most successful tech companies have had their start right here in Waterloo Region. The close affiliation of local post-secondary institutions with business start-ups, via cooperative education programs as well as other means, has meant that Waterloo Region has rapidly grown into a key hub for Canada’s tech industry. Blackberry, Shopify, and Google, to name but a few, are some of the employers which have capitalized in recent years from our area’s reputation as an engine for technological development.
Nor is the local economy limited to the tech sector – Toyota Motor Company maintains an enormous production facility in Cambridge, as does ATS (Automation Tooling Systems). While the industrial heyday of the region, and indeed the nation as a whole has been said to be behind us, the Region of Waterloo clearly maintains a strong, and in many cases growing, industrial sector. Waterloo Region is also home to a number of the largest insurance companies in the country, including Manulife Financial, Sun Life Financial, and Economical Insurance – making the area a hub for the Canadian insurance industry. Other key local employers include regional school boards, local post-secondary institutions, Grand River Hospital, and the various municipal governments themselves. With a strong economy and growing housing market, the time has never been better to settle or to invest in Waterloo Region!
Although what you’ve read up until this point represents but a brief summary of just some of the advantages life in Waterloo Region has to offer, it should be clear that our community is a great place to live, raise a family, work, or to invest in. I hope I’ve been able to spark your interest – please don’t hesitate to contact me directly. I’d love to be your guide to getting settled in the area!
Chestnut Park West
The Shops at Uptown Waterloo
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