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Region of Waterloo, Ontario
Waterloo Region
Location of Waterloo Region in Ontario
Country Canada
Province Ontario
 - Regional Chair Ken Seiling
 - Governing Body Waterloo Regional Council
 - MPs
 - MPPs
 - Metro 1,382.0 km2 (539.8 sq mi)
Population (2006)
 - Metro 478,121
 - Metro Density 346.0/km2 (885.7/sq mi)
Time zone EST (UTC−5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC−4)
Area code(s) (519) and (226)
Website Region of Waterloo website

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 1,382 square kilometres in size and its regional seat of government is in Kitchener. The census population as of the year 2006 is 478,121[1], with a regional estimation of 506,800 as of the 2006 year end.[2]. This difference results primarily from the census undercount of temporary residents such as students.



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 the smaller Attawandaron tribe while severely crippling the Huron in the 17th century. 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. 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 the Honourable William Dickson who, in 1816, came into sole possession of 90,000 acres 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 Mr. 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. In the company of Absalom Shade, Mr. 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. Mr. 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 Mr. Galt visited Mr. Dickson in the settlement in 1827 the name Galt received more wide spread 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 pooled 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. 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. The most famous is St. Jacobs, with its well-known thrice-weekly outdoor market.

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.


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.

Official Results of the 2006 Municipal Election for the Regional offices
Regional Chair Ken Seiling
Cambridge Regional Councillors Jane Brewer, Claudette Millar
Kitchener Regional Councillors Tom Galloway, Jean Haalboom, Jake Smola, Jim Wideman
Waterloo Regional Councillors Sean Strickland, Jane Mitchell


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.


The estimated population of Waterloo Region, including full-time university and college students, is 533,700 as of December 31, 2008. Since 1993, the region's population has grown on average 1.9 per cent per year. By 2031, the Region's population is expected to grow to 729,000.[4]

The population is increasingly diverse. Immigrants accounted for 22.3% of the region's total population according to the 2006 census.[5]

This, among other factors, has made new residential construction rates very high; concerns about urban sprawl, with all its effects, continue to be raised. Because of this spur in population, Waterloo is one of the fastest growing regions in Southwestern Ontario.


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


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 18th busiest in Canada and underwent a major expansion in 2003.

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 Ainslie Street terminal in Cambridge utilizing shoulder bypass lanes along highways 8 and 401 during heavy traffic where speeds are 40 km/h or less.


Notable residents


  1. ^ "2006 Community Profiles". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2007-03-13.  
  2. ^!OpenDocument
  3. ^ City Archives Historical Information-Evolution of Galt
  4. ^
  5. ^$file/Bulletin_6.pdf
  6. ^ "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"  

External links


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