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For the electoral district, see Kitchener—Waterloo (electoral district).

Region of Waterloo
—  Regional Municipality  —
Official logo of Region of Waterloo
Motto: "Peace, Prosperity"
Location of Waterloo Region in Ontario
Country  Canada
Province  Ontario
 • Regional Chair Ken Seiling
 • Governing Body Waterloo Regional Council
 • MPs
 • MPPs
 • Land 1,368.94 km2 (528.55 sq mi)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Total 507,096
 • Density 370.4/km2 (959/sq mi)
Time zone EST (UTC−5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC−4)
Area code(s) (519) and (226)

The Regional Municipality of Waterloo is a regional municipality located in Southern Ontario, Canada. It consists of the cities of Kitchener, Cambridge, and Waterloo, and the townships of Wellesley, Woolwich, Wilmot, and North Dumfries. It is often referred to as the Region of Waterloo or just Waterloo Region. The Region is 1369 square kilometres in size and its regional seat of government is in Kitchener. The Region's population was 507,096 as of the 2011 census.[1]


During the 16th and 17th centuries, the area was inhabited by the Iroquoian speaking Attawandaron nation.

Historical accounts differ on exactly how the Attawandaron tribe was wiped out, but it is generally agreed that the Seneca and the Mohawk tribes of the Six Nations destroyed or forced out the smaller Attawandaron tribe while severely crippling the Huron around 1680-85. After the invasion of the Six Nations into the Grand River Valley, the Neutral tribe ceased to have any political existence. Any dispersed survivors were taken captive or escaped to other tribes such as the Mississaugas and were assimilated in that culture. There are no distinct Attawandarons today.

In 1784, the British government granted the Grand River Valley to the Iroquois, who had supported the Loyalists in the American War of Independence, to compensate them for the loss of their land in New York.[2] The Iroquois settled in the lower Grand River Valley (now The County of Brant), and sold parts of the land which was part of Waterloo Township to Colonel Richard Beasley, a United Empire Loyalist. Another developer was William Dickson who, in 1816, came into sole possession of 90,000 acres (360 km2) of land along the Grand River that was later to make up North and South Dumfries Townships.

North and South Dumfries Townships Area Settlement[]

It was Dickson's intention to divide the land into smaller lots that would be sold primarily to the Scottish settlers that he hoped to attract to Canada.[2] In the company of Absalom Shade, Dickson immediately toured his new lands with the intention of developing a town site that would serve as the focal point for his attempts to populate the countryside. They chose the site where Mill Creek flows into the Grand River and in 1816 the settlement of Shade's Mills was born. The new settlement grew slowly but by 1825, though still very small, was the largest settlement in the area and was important enough to obtain a post office. Dickson decided that a new name was needed for the Post Office and consequently the settlement and he chose Galt in honour of the Scottish novelist and Commissioner of the Canada Company, John Galt. The settlers resisted the introduction of the new name preferring the more familiar Shade's Mills. However, after Galt visited Dickson in the settlement in 1827 the name Galt received more widespread acceptance. In its early days Galt was an agricultural community serving the needs of the farmers in the surrounding countryside. By the late 1830s, however, the settlement began to develop an industrial capacity and reputation for quality products that in later years earned the town the nickname "The Manchester of Canada". Galt was the largest and most important town in the area until the beginning of the 20th century when it was finally overtaken by Kitchener.[3]

Waterloo Township Area Settlement[]

The land owned by Beasley appealed to a particular group of Pennsylvania German Mennonite farmers. They collected resources to purchase all of the unsold land from Beasley, forming the German Company Tract and dividing the lands into 128 farms of 18,100 square metres and 32 farms of 12,000 square metres each for distribution. By the 1840s, the presence of the German-speaking Mennonites made the area a popular choice for German settlers from Europe.[4] These Germans founded their own communities in the south of the area settled by the Mennonites, the largest being the town of Berlin (changed to Kitchener, named for Lord Kitchener, due to anti-German sentiments during World War I).


The Waterloo region remained predominantly German-speaking until the early 20th century, and its German heritage is reflected in the region’s large Lutheran community and the annual Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest.

There are still traditional Mennonite communities located north of Kitchener-Waterloo. While the most famous is St. Jacobs, with its well-known thrice-weekly outdoor market, the community of Linwood has attracted increased tourism volume in recent years due to its highly authentic Mennonite lifestyle.

In 1973, the regional municipality style of government was imposed on the county. In that major reorganization, the fifteen towns and townships of the county were reduced to just seven in the new Region of Waterloo. The new city of Cambridge was created through the merger of the city of Galt, the towns of Preston and Hespeler, the village of Blair and various parcels of township land. One township vanished when the former Waterloo Township was divided among Woolwich Township and the three cities of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge. The settlement of Erbsville was annexed to the city of Waterloo and the settlement of Freeport was annexed to Kitchener. The independent village of Bridgeport was also annexed to Kitchener and this created many hard feelings both in Bridgeport (which had once upon a time been larger than Kitchener, but failed to grow when the railways passed it by) and also in the city of Waterloo, where Bridgeport Road is a major thoroughfare terminating in the village centre. The former county government was given broader powers as a regional municipality.

Further municipal amalgamation began discussions in the 1990s, with little progress. In late 2005, Kitchener’s city council voted to visit the subject again, with the possibility of reducing the seven constituent municipalities into one or more cities. A new proposal in 2010 would study only the merger of Kitchener and Waterloo, with a public referendum on whether the idea should be looked into. Kitchener residents voted 2-1 in favour of studying the merger while Waterloo residents voted 2-1 against. Waterloo city council subsequently voted against the study.[5]


The region's governing body is the 16-member Waterloo Regional council. The council consists of the regional chair, the mayors of the seven cities and townships, plus four additional councillors from Kitchener and two additional councillors each from both Cambridge and Waterloo.

Ken Seiling has been the regional chair since 1985. Starting with the 1997 election, he has been directly elected by the citizens of Waterloo Region. Prior to 1997, the chair was appointed by the elected councillors. Of the nine regional municipalities in Ontario, Waterloo Region and Halton are the only ones with an elected chair.

Region of Waterloo Councillors [6][7]
Regional Chair Ken Seiling
City of Cambridge Doug Craig (Mayor), Jane Brewer, Claudette Millar
City of Kitchener Carl Zehr (Mayor), Tom Galloway, Jean Haalboom, Geoff Lorentz, Jim Wideman
City of Waterloo Brenda Halloran (Mayor), Jane Mitchell, Sean Strickland
Township of Woolwich Todd Cowan (Mayor)
Township of Wellesley Ross Kelterborn (Mayor)
Township of Wilmot Les Armstrong (Mayor)
Township of North Dumfries Rob Deutschmann (Mayor)

Past Regional Chairs:

  • Jack A. Young, first Chairman of the Region


Census Subdivision Population (2011 census)[8]
Kitchener 219,153
Cambridge 126,748
Waterloo 98,780
Woolwich 23,145
Wilmot 19,223
Wellesley 10,713
North Dumfries 9,334

Within the townships are many communities. Some were once independent and had their own reeves and councils but lost this status in amalgamation. These communities include: Ayr, Baden, Bloomingdale, Breslau, Conestogo, Doon, Elmira, Freeport, Heidelberg, Mannheim, Maryhill, New Dundee, New Hamburg, Petersberg, Roseville, St. Agatha, St. Jacobs, Wellesley, West Montrose, and Winterbourne.


Historic populations:[10]

  • Population in 2001: 438,515
  • Population in 1996: 405,435

Waterloo is one of the fastest growing regions in Southwestern Ontario; by 2031, the region's population is expected to grow to 729,000,[11] This, among other factors, has made new residential construction rates very high; concerns about urban sprawl, with all its effects, continue to be raised.

The population is increasingly diverse. Immigrants accounted for 22.3% of the region's total population according to the 2006 census.[12]


Waterloo Region is home to the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, and Conestoga College. For a list of all elementary and secondary schools in the area, see the List of Waterloo Region, Ontario schools.


Waterloo Region is expanding in both commercial and population terms. The presence of two universities, the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University, acts as a catalyst for growth in the high-tech area.

Major employers in the region[]

  • Research In Motion (8,000 employees [13])
  • Waterloo Region District School Board (5,000 employees)[14]
  • Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada (4,300 employees)
  • Manulife Financial (3,800 employees)
  • University of Waterloo (3,500 employees)
  • Sun Life Financial (3,300 employees)
  • Grand River Hospital (2,200 employees)
  • ATS Automation Tooling Systems (1,800 employees)
  • City of Kitchener (1,700 employees)


Over time, many municipal services have come under the jurisdiction of the regional government. These include police, emergency medical services, waste management, licensing enforcement and recycling, and the public transit system. The main administration is run from the seat in Kitchener; various service offices are found in many parts of the Region. From a geographically central location in north Cambridge, maintenance operations and the police headquarters are able to reach anywhere in their service area.


Public transport is provided by Grand River Transit, created from amalgamation of the former Cambridge Transit and Kitchener Transit systems. The Region also owns and operates the Region of Waterloo International Airport, near Breslau. The airport is the 20th busiest in Canada as of December 2010[15] and underwent a major expansion in 2003. According to GO Transit's website, the agency is planning to expand its rail services to the region by the end of 2011. The plan calls for extending its Georgetown line along existing CN track with stations in Acton, Guelph (existing station), Breslau and Kitchener (existing station).[16]

The Region is in the planning stages of a rapid transit link system between Waterloo, Kitchener, and Cambridge. Regional council has approved the initiative and the Region is currently in discussions with Provincial and Federal governments to obtain funding for the $790 million project. Light Rail Transit has been short-listed as the technology for the new rapid transit system. The Region has decided upon a Staged approach for building Light Rail from Conestoga Mall to Fairview Park Mall, passing through Uptown Waterloo and Downtown Kitchener on the way. Adapted Bus Rapid Transit is to be built initially from Fairview Park Mall to the Ainslie St. Transit Terminal in Cambridge utilizing shoulder bypass lanes along highways 8 and 401 during heavy traffic where speeds are 40 km/h or less. This rapid transit proposal was approved in June 2011.

A unique innovation of the area is that it is home to Ontario's first CarSharing organization, Community CarShare (also known as Grand River CarShare). Community CarShare provides access to vehicles on a self serve pay per use basis, located in many neighbourhoods around the Region. It is meant to complement other sustainable modes of transportation such as public transit, biking, carpooling, and acts as a transition out of owning a vehicle. Community CarShare has 19 vehicles stationed in the Region of Waterloo.


Notable residents[]

  • Rich Beddoe is the current drummer for the Canadian Rock band Finger Eleven. He is from Cambridge, Ontario.
  • Tim Brent is a hockey player from Cambridge, Ontario.
  • Kitchener is the birthplace of William Lyon Mackenzie King, Canada’s longest serving prime minister. His boyhood home is now Woodside National Historic Site.
  • Joseph E. Seagram was a partner in 1869, and sole owner in 1883, in the company later known as Seagram.
  • Lois Maxwell, Golden Globe winning actress and the original Miss Moneypenny in the James Bond movies, was born in Kitchener.
  • Actor Jeremy Ratchford from Cold Case grew up in Kitchener.
  • Actor David Orth, formerly of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World, grew up in Kitchener.
  • Artist Homer Watson, internationally renowned landscape artist, was from Kitchener.
  • Dave Sim, creator of the comic book Cerebus the Aardvark, has lived in Kitchener since he was two years old.
  • Mike Lazaridis, founder of Research In Motion, came as a student to attend the University of Waterloo.
  • Boxer Lennox Lewis lived in Kitchener from the age of 12 and began his boxing career there. He maintains a home in Kitchener.
  • Former hockey all-star Scott Stevens of the New Jersey Devils was born in Kitchener and played for the Kitchener Rangers. He also maintains a home there.
  • Author David Chilton, who wrote the best-selling Canadian book to date, financial planning guide The Wealthy Barber, was born in Kitchener and lives in the region.
  • Hockey player Todd Bertuzzi of the Detroit Red Wings makes his offseason home in Kitchener.



  1. ^ a b c d "(Code 3530) Census Profile". 2011 census. Statistics Canada. 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-06.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "cp2011" defined multiple times with different content
  2. ^ a b "Regional History - History of Waterloo County". Region of Waterloo. Retrieved 2011-03-16. 
  3. ^ City Archives Historical Information-Evolution of Galt
  4. ^ "Historic Place Names of Waterloo County - Waterloo Township". Region of Waterloo.!OpenDocument. Retrieved 2011-03-16. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Municipal Election 2010 Results". Region of Waterloo. Retrieved 2011-02-17. 
  7. ^ "Regional Council - Region of Waterloo". Region of Waterloo. Retrieved 2011-07-04. 
  8. ^ "Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, and census subdivisions (municipalities), 2011 and 2006 censuses". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2012-02-15. 
  9. ^ "2006 Community Profiles". Canada 2006 Census. Statistics Canada. March 30, 2011. Retrieved 2012-03-26. 
  10. ^ a b "2001 Community Profiles". Canada 2001 Census. Statistics Canada. February 17, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-26. 
  11. ^ Living in the Region of Waterloo
  12. ^ "Region of Waterloo Census Bulletin". Region of Waterloo.$file/Bulletin_6.pdf. Retrieved 2011-03-16. 
  13. ^ "25,500 in region are out of work; Downturn feels familiar". "Research In Motion's local workforce has grown to more than 8,000 from 450 in early 2000" 
  14. ^ " Blog Post - Largest Employers In Waterloo and Kitchener". "A list of the top 20 employers in Waterloo Region. Ranking and figures are for the number of employment positions each company has located in Waterloo Region, not global employment numbers" 
  15. ^ "Total aircraft movements by class of operation". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2011-02-17. 
  16. ^ "Georgetown to Kitchener Rail Expansion Environmental Study Report". 

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