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Kitchener Trivia

Did you know … ?

  • In the early 1800s, German Mennonite families, moving north from Pennsylvania, purchased the land that Kitchener would be built upon. In 1816, the Government of Upper Canada designated the settlement as the Township of Waterloo. In 1833, the area was renamed Berlin.

  • Berlin became a village in January 1854, a town on May 20, 1870, and a city on June 10, 1912.

  • The city of Berlin changed its name to Kitchener on September 1, 1916.

  • Kitchener has had four city halls:
    • The original town hall was built in 1869 and taken down in 1924.
    • The next city hall designed by W.H.E. Schmalz and B.A. Jones. It was built in 1924 and used until 1973.
    • For the next twenty years Kitchener rented space in the Oxlea building on Frederick Street.
    • In 1993, the city opened moved to the present building on King Street West.
  • The statue of Queen Victoria, located in Victoria Park, was unveiled in May 1911. The Princess of Wales Chapter of the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire raised the $6,000 needed for the statute.

  • Scott Street in Kitchener was named after Dr. John Scott, Kitchener’s first physician, who came here in 1834 from Galt. He was elected the first warden of Waterloo County in 1852 and the first reeve of the village of Berlin in 1854. He retained the offices of reeve and warden until his death in 1856.

  • The first railway train steamed into Berlin on November 17, 1856, on its way to Stratford.

  • The telephone arrived in Berlin in 1880. W.H. Breithaupt had a line erected between his house and his office at the family tannery.

  • The first newspaper in Berlin was the Canada Museum, a German paper that began on August 27, 1835. Published by Henry William Peterson, it continued until 1840.

  • Kitchener was the first community in Ontario to obtain hydroelectric power from Niagara. The power was switched on 11 October 1910.

  • A statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I was unveiled August 13, 1897, in Victoria Park. The statute was thrown into the park lake during World War I, as a result of anti-German feelings in the city. Eventually the statue disappeared.

  • William Lyon Mackenzie King, Canada’s 10th Prime Minister, was born in Berlin on December 17, 1874. He served as Prime Minister for 21 years, 5 months and 5 days, a British Commonwealth record.

  • There has been a hotel on the site of the Walper Terrace Hotel since 1820. C.H. Walper took over the hotel in 1886, and after a fire in 1892, erected a 4 storey structure which remains the core of the present building.

  • The American Hotel in Kitchener was built in 1862-1863. Built by Louis Breithaupt, it cost $9,000. An 1867 advertisement stated that you could catch a stagecoach for Waterloo and Preston outside this hotel.

  • In 1906 Berlin had a population of just over 12,000. The town had 20 churches, an orphanage, 2 hospitals, 5 banks and 3 public parks. It also had 140 fire hydrants and one of the best sewage disposal systems in Canada.

  • A souvenir booklet, Busy Berlin, published in 1901, stated that “one policeman patrols the streets and his duties are extremely light”. This meant one policeman looked after the peace and security of approximately 10,000 people.

  • Rev. F. W. Bindemann, born in Prussia in 1790 and died in Berlin in 1865, was known as the “marrying pastor”. A Lutheran pastor, he was said to have married about 2,000 couples in his 30 year ministry. Many of his church records are available in the Grace Schmidt Room.