RAMBLING up and down this remarkable Dominion of ours, any conscientious observer must sooner or later be impressed by the complete disregard of precedents manifested by many Canadian communities. A conspicuous example is to be found in the Siamese-twin communities of the City of Kitchener and the Town of Waterloo, in Waterloo County, Ontario.
Here is a district that has become an entity quite different from the shape of its apparent destiny. Kitchener and Waterloo, located as they are, might reasonably have been expected to develop into placidly prosperous market towns. Well, they are that; but they are more than that. They are industrial centres of considerable importance to this Dominion. Together they constitute a bustling, intensely alive, ultra-modern manufacturing, professional and retail business community, set about with farmlands. Here the smokestacks of industry are surrounded by orchards.
To some degree Kitchener and Waterloo are away from the main thoroughfare. They are far off from lakes, canals and navigable rivers. The Canadian National Railways’ single-track line linking Toronto in a looping curve with Sarnia, and so with the upper half of the Michigan peninsula, passes through Kitchener, and a branch connects with the Canadian Pacific line at Elmira, twelve miles north. The electrified Grand River Railway, a Canadian Pacific subsidiary, couples with its parent line at Galt, ten miles to the south, and through Galt and Port Dover, with the Great Lakes. Bus lines tie-in at Guelph with the main Toronto route, and through Galt to Hamilton. King’s Highways seven, eight, and eighty-five pass through the two towns; but technically none of these are main-line connections. The point is that had Kitchener and Waterloo been content to exist merely as comfortably inconspicuous market towns, that is what they would be today.
Driving or riding in a train toward Kitchener from east or west, one sees broad acres of farmlands stretching on either side to the horizon. Waterloo County is a rolling terrain of gently lifted hills and softly sloping valleys. The rich soil produces a diversity of crops; small fruits, vegetables, feed and grain. It is excellent pasture land, so that dairies breed fine herds and supply rich milk and cream to the district. There are flocks of prize poultry. The country is well wooded. Instinct or wisdom has caused these farmers to preserve their trees. To the casual eye, here is a thriving agricultural area, getting along nicely; but nothing more.
Then one is set down in Kitchener, next door to Waterloo, to discover that Kitchener has 127 factories, housing 160 industrial efforts, and that Waterloo adds another thirty-three factories to the tally. The Kitchener Board of Trade proudly publicizes the claim that Kitchener “makes more shirts, builds more furniture, manufactures more tires, fashions more footwear, and tans more leather than any other city in Canada;’’ and Waterloo, in addition to its industrial plants, is national headquarters for live insurance companies and one trust company.
This unusual industrial and financial coalition, fixed in an agricultural setting, is now one hundred and forty years old. Waterloo County, formerly a part of the Six Nations Indian land grant, was first opened to white pioneers in 1800. The men and women who wrenched the earliest farmlands from the grasp of the dense forests came from Central Europe by way of Pennsylvania. They were seeking a refuge then from exactly the same pagan type of Prussian arrogance, intolerance and hate that is raping the Old World today.
No Canadian community nourishes a more thoroughgoing detestation for Hitlerism and all that Hitlerism stands for than does Kitchener-Waterloo. Bearing the same names, descendants of families who fled from German persecutions in the middle of the eighteenth century to find freedom at last in Canada, form a large percentage of the Kitchener-Waterloo citizenship of 1940. They feel the same way about Hitler as their great-great-grandfathers felt about the German tyrants of their time.
What is more to the point, they are giving expression to their feelings in the most practical manner possible. Kitchener-Waterloo was the first Canadian community to organize and carry through a Buy-a-Tank campaign. Early in June a Kitchener citizen, who insists upon remaining anonymous, walked into the City Hall and laid on the mayor’s desk a certified cheque for $100. He said: “According to reports, the most urgent need of our armies is for modern tanks. I want you to use this money as the start of a fund to buy a tank and present it to the C.A.S.F.”
The Kitchener Sales and Advertising Club took over the management of the campaign, putting up $1,000 of its own money. From that beginning there developed an extraordinary manifestation of community effort and enthusiasm. Individual and group subscriptions, ranging from the humble dollar bill to cheques for thousands, poured in. Local branch banks served as collection agencies. Full-page advertisements urged the citizenry to “Buy a Tank.” “Canada,” one of these displays stated, “is going to make 300 tanks. Kitchener-Waterloo is going to pay for the first one off the line. Look Out, Herr Hitler! Here we come. Buy a tank at any bank.” One ingenious individual set up an archery range in an alley, with a life-size figure of Adolf Hitler as a target, the receipts going to the Tank Fund.
On Saturday, June 8, a Buy-a-Tank parade marched through the main streets of Kitchener and Waterloo. Local bands were supported by the drum and bugle corps from the Galt Aircraft Training School. C.A.S.F. troops of the Highland Light Infantry, who had formerly been on the strength of the Scots Fusiliers of Canada, the local militia unit, were cheered all along the route. The Department of Defense sent a training tank down from Camp Borden to feature the show. Beretted veterans of the Canadian Legion spread Legion flags into which spectators tossed coins. Sixty girl students of the collegiate institute sold tank tags along the route.
Kitchener’s oldest resident could not remember so brave a turnout. Between 50,000 and 60,000 people watched the parade. The veterans gathered more than $570 in nickels, dimes, quarters and dollar bills in their flags; the taggers reported over $1,500 from their sales. Inside three weeks the fund had reached a total of $38,000—as of June 22—and more money was being added hourly. By then, other communities, Toronto among them, were organizing similar campaigns, following the Kitchener-Waterloo lead. That is the sort of place it is.
The relationship between the City of Kitchener and the Town of Waterloo is unusual and a bit difficult for an outsider to appreciate in its subtler distinctions. In many ways the two communities function as one. In others they are separate and divergent entities. At times they appear as rivals.
Service clubs—Rotary, Kiwanis, Gyro, Lions—are unified organizations. You find Kitchener-Waterloo Rotary, Kitchener-Waterloo Kiwanis, and so on down the line. A Kitchener-Waterloo Hospital Commission serves both towns, under the chairmanship of C. N. Weber, a vice-president of the Ontario Association of Boards of Trade. There is a Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate Board and a Kitchener-Waterloo Airport Commission, supervising the affairs of an airport that actually is outside the municipal boundaries of both towns. The municipally owned street railway and bus system is a Kitchener enterprise, but it serves Waterloo as well, and plays no favorites.
This summer the Waterloo Board of Trade is putting up one of those “Welcome to Waterloo” signs on the boundary line. So far it just hasn't been possible for a stranger to know for sure whether he was in Kitchener or Waterloo. King Street, the main shopping thoroughfare in Kitchener, continues its east-west march without a visible break until it becomes the principal business street of Waterloo.
City of Industry
CONJUGAL relations like this lead to odd situations. The head office of the Mutual Life Assurance Company of Canada, for example, stands in both municipalities. The widespread block of buildings crosses the civic boundary, and Kitchener people chuckle as they tell you that, while the entrance to the offices is in Waterloo, the big board room where the directors meet and settle weighty affairs, is in Kitchener.
Kitchener and Waterloo have separate municipal governments. Each elects its own mayor. Each has its own public utilities commission, its own public school and separate school boards, its own library, parks, and welfare administrations, and its own system of handling relief.
There has been in the past talk of amalgamation, and the issue still lives, although it is not now in the foreground of civic affairs. The general feeling seems to be: “We’re getting along all right as things are, so what’s the sense of starting anything?”
In these circumstances it becomes necessary to report on the two united-yet-divided communities separately to avoid confusion. Kitchener, as the larger component part, must come first. That city’s population as at the end of 1939 was 33,450 people. Waterloo had, at the same date, 8,623, bringing the total for the two municipalities to over 42,000. Kitchener’s growth has been steady, unaffected by booms or slumps. Between 1920 and 1930 the number of citizens increased by over 8,000. In the past decade, depression or no depression, more than 2,000 new residents have been added to the population.
Automobile tires and rubber footwear, boots, shoes and leather goods, men’s shirts, pyjamas, underwear and neckties, furniture, buttons, felt, gloves, machinery, and packed meats are Kitchener’s leading products. The record reveals many nationally famous names.
Dominion tires are made in Kitchener. The B. F. Goodrich Rubber Company of Canada makes not only Goodrich tires, but rubber footwear there. The Kaufman Rubber Company, a Kitchener institution from away back, also makes rubber footwear, as does the Merchants’ Rubber factory, now affiliated with the Dominion Rubber organization. Another company manufactures Bi-Lateral fire hose in Kitchener.
The Kitchener Board of Trade lists twenty manufacturers of furniture and fixtures making everything from dining-room suites to door knobs. Chief among these are the Anthes-Baetz Furniture Company; Baetz Brothers Furniture Company; the Beaver Furniture Company; Dominion Electrohome Industries, Limited, making radio cabinets and air-conditioning equipment; Galloway Furniture, Limited; Interior Hardwood Company, manufacturing church and theatre fixtures; the Krug Furniture Company; George J. Lippert, Limited; and the Wunder Furniture Manufacturing Company. Three companies make mattresses, springs and pillows, and one of them—the Fehrenbach Mattress Company—has been so astute as to place a neat card in your hotel room, expressing the hope that you have a good night’s rest on your Fehrenbach mattress. Kitchener, one finds, is full of clever little touches like that.
There are ten Kitchener companies engaged in the manufacture or processing of textiles, two of them rating international status. Here is the head office of Cluett Peabody and Company of Canada, producing the Arrow lines of men’s shirts and furnishings. This organization, of course, is linked with the original Cluett Peabody company of the United States.
John Forsyth, Limited, making Forsyth shirts, underwear, pyjamas, cravats and handkerchiefs, is entirely a Kitchener enterprise, and its growth is a matter of considerable local pride. The Forsyth company has two plants, one in Kitchener, the other in Waterloo. Mr. J. D. C. Forsyth, president of the organization, maintains two homes in the Kitchener-Waterloo district, a city residence and a farm where he raises prize cattle.
Other Kitchener textile products include glove linings, knitted fabrics, rayon, jersey cloth and twine. There are five companies making buttons—the town has always been a big button producer—and three of these, the Dominion Button Manufacturers, Limited, Kitchener Buttons, Limited, and the Mitchell Button Company, sell their goods all across Canada.
Twenty-three Kitchener companies manufacture boots and shoes and other leather products. Eleven companies, Ontario Shoes, Limited; Valentine and Martin. Limited; the W. E. Woelffe Shoe Company; Western Shoe Company; Charles A. Ahrens, Limited; the Bauer Shoe Company; the E and S Shoe Company; the Galt Shoe Manufacturing Company; the Hydro City Shoe Manufacturers Limited; and the Kitchener Shoe Company, make leather footwear. The Bauer and Western shoe companies also make skates. Other concerns turn out cut soles, shoe patterns, leather washers, and leather ties and braces.
The L. McBrine Company makes the widely known McBrine line of trunks, bags and other travel accessories in Kitchener. The names of Breithaupt and Lang, associated with the leather industry since its first beginnings in this area, are represented by three companies; the Breithaupt Leather Company, the Lang Tanning Company, and John A. Lang and Sons. There are three companies producing gloves, mitts and gauntlets; the Barrie Glove and Knitting Company, the Huck Glove Company, and the Ontario Glove Company. Canadian Consolidated Felt Company, and the W. G. Rumpel Felt Company make commercial felts.
Grouped under the general heading of metal industries, Kitchener lists thirty-one firms, some of them manufacturing, others using the city as a distribution point. The Canadian Blower and Forge Company makes ventilating equipment, forges and drills. Dominion Truck Equipment Company produces trucks and trailers. The Four Wheel Drive Auto Company manufactures trucks and snowplows. Jackson-Cochrane, Limited, makes woodworking machinery, and the Rubber Machinery Shops produce rubber-working machines, dies and stampings.
Here, as elsewhere, one finds small industries complementing the larger organizations, so that among Kitchener’s various products are such items as steel shanks for shoes, tools, shoe machinery and supplies, furniture springs and weldings. National Cash Register and Underwood Elliott Fisher maintain service depots in Kitchener.
The Canadian Bell Foundry, casting bells and fashioning bronze memorial tablets, is a Kitchener enterprise. One factory makes microphones, another manufactures pumps. There are half a dozen concerns producing radio equipment, coils and transformers, eleven companies handling glass, stone, cement and tiles, eleven printing and publishing plants. Seven companies deal in lumber and three bind books.
Meat packing was one of Kitchener’s earliest enterprises. The pork products, cooked meats, and sausages of J. M. Schneider, Limited; Dumarts, Limited; and Kitchener Packers, Limited, are known in thousands of Canadian homes. E. Gronau and Sons and A. W. Morrison also specialize in pork products and sausages.
Kitchener has its own brewery, a winery, and three soft drink companies. Smiles ’n Chuckles chocolates and candies are made in Kitchener. Ten dairies supply milk, butter and eggs. There are thirteen bakeries and three flour, seed and grain establishments.
Among other items in the Kitchener miscellany are household chemicals, cigars, glue, auto tops and covers, roofing materials, dental supplies, optical supplies, cotton waste, clocks and washing machines. A city, plainly, of diversified industry, displaying a kaleidoscopic pattern of men—and women—at work.
This year employment in Kitchener is good. Latest official figures show 5,379 male wage earners and 2,382 women workers in steady employment. The total capital invested in Kitchener industries is now around $35,456,720, with a gross annual production value of $46,747,407. Total wages were $6,795,382 in manufacturing plants alone for the latest twelve-month period computed. The city ranks fifth in Ontario for gross value of manufactured goods.
Business generally is on the upgrade in Kitchener. Bank clearings for the first four months of 1940 showed a nineteen per cent increase over the same period of 1939. The same comparison made in customs receipts shows an increase of forty-eight per cent. It is odd to think of Kitchener, so far inland, as an important customs port; but that’s what Kitchener is. In 1939 customs receipts totalled $3,855,743.
The relief picture is steadily improving, too. In December, 1939, the percentage of population on relief in Kitchener was a fraction under 3.3. Last June it was 4.7. Only two other towns in Ontario—St. Thomas (2.7) and Fort William (3.1)—were in a better position than Kitchener at the end of 1939. Peak year for relief in Kitchener was 1933, when 3,982 recipients were registered. In December, 1939, the figure was 1,076.
The city is in good shape financially. The last bond issue, made in 1938, sold at 104. Total assessment for 1939 was $27,322,331. On this amount, taxes totalling $1,140,119 were paid when due, a percentage of 88.55 of the levy. Additionally, the city collected $113,457 in tax arrears. The current tax rate is forty-two mills, lowest for five years. Since 1932 Kitchener’s debenture debt has been reduced by $1,479,998.37, which works out at 32.57 per cent, and the debenture debt per capita this year is $91.43 against $145.22 in 1932.
Kitchener’s affairs are administered by a city council comprising the mayor and ten aldermen. Mayor J. Meinzinger, the present incumbent, is an insurance broker who was elected last December in a three-cornered contest, after having served several terms as alderman. The council has five standing committees and eight special committees, and it is represented also on the County Board of Audit, the County Health Association, and the St. Mary’s (Roman Catholic) Hospital Advisory Board. Other boards and commissions deal with such matters as police, children’s aid, suburban roads, mothers’ allowances and old-age pensions, and family relief.
AMONG Kitchener’s permanent civic officials one finds no novices. They are all experienced men who have come right along with the community, through the tough times as well as the easy. City Engineer Stanley Shupe has been on the job since 1921. C. G. Lips was first appointed Kitchener’s City Clerk in 1923. City Treasurer L. N. Dahmer has been in office since 1932. They are all Kitchener-born, and, talking with them, one gets a strong impression of loyalty to their city, enthusiasm for its achievements and confidence in its future.
Kitchener possesses a notably energetic Board of Trade that this year is touching the highest point in its history. From a membership of 135, five years ago, the Board grew to 443 members last year and expects to go over the 500 mark before 1940 is out. This year’s president is W. Max Euler, head of the Merchants Printing Company, and a son of Senator W. D. Euler. The full-time secretary is Norman Riffer, formerly a purchasing agent for one of the footwear companies, who took over the job in 1935. What has happened to the organization since then is due largely to his persistent and tireless activity, plus the support of a hustling executive committee, whose members are elected by a secret ballot.
Board of Trade offices are in City Hall. When Secretary Riffer wishes to confer with the mayor, he has only to step from his own desk to the door of the mayor’s office. A very handy arrangement.
Besides the president and secretary, those running the Kitchener Board of Trade include past president L. O. Breithaupt, first vice-president A. J. Cundick, second vice-president E. J. Shoemaker, treasurer W. E. Sharpe, and a directorate of ten representing a wide diversity of occupations. The Board ranks high among other similar bodies in the Dominion. At the 1938 Convention of the Canadian Chambers of Commerce Association, Kitchener was awarded the shield for the best showing in fire prevention, and last February Kitchener won the Health and Safety trophy in the cities up to 50,000 population class.
Kitchener owns its own street railway and bus system, administered by the Public Utilities Commission. At six tickets for a quarter, with one-cent transfers, the city claims to have the lowest fares of any system on the continent.
No one can question Kitchener’s claim to be a homeowners’ city. Traditionally, the Kitchener percentage of citizens owning their own residences has been seventy per cent since it was first incorporated as a town in 1871. Today, the number of apartment houses is increasing. A quarter of a century ago there were not more than four apartment dwellings in the entire community; this year there are sixty-four.
With no rigid natural boundaries to circumscribe its limits, the city of Kitchener spreads itself over 3,477 acres, in the shape of an approximate square. Waterloo forms a bulge in the northwest corner. King Street, where most of the retail business is done, runs east and west through the heart of the city, then turns sharply toward the south, making it one of the few continuous thoroughfares in the Dominion stretching toward four points of the compass at once. The principal north-south thoroughfare is Queen Street, which also carries a goodly share of the shopping district. Goudies, the biggest department store—strictly a Kitchener enterprise—has entrances on both streets, and the Walper House, leader among the hotels, is at the southwest corner of King and Queen.
The public buildings are grouped near by the King-Queen intersection. The City Hall, an imposing and comparatively modern structure, opened in 1924, is on King Street, fronted by a broad park area attractively landscaped. The new $300,000 Dominion Government Building, opened in December, 1938, is on the west side of City Hall, and runs through the block to Queen Street. The large public market lies behind City Hall, and the County Building—Kitchener is the county seat—and the well-stocked and debt-free public library are a block away on the north.
Kitchener has seventeen schools and two colleges. Last year 6,731 children between the ages of five and eighteen were in attendance at the public and separate schools. There are thirty-five churches in the city, and the churchgoing population is almost exactly divided, in its leading denominations, between Lutherans and Roman Catholics. In 1939 there were 8,348 Lutherans counted in the religious census taken by the Assessment Commissioner’s office, and 8,339 Catholics. Following in order came the United Church, Evangelical, Anglicans, Baptists, Presbyterians and Mennonites.
THE people of Kitchener seem to have a habit of doing unusual things. The history of the old sewage farm is an instance of this trait in the civic character. Here was an area set beside the eastern entrance to the present city that for years was nothing better than a stretch of waste land used for sewage disposal and treatment. Five years ago it became evident that the sewage farm had outlived its usefulness and was rapidly becoming a public nuisance. Under the supervision of City Engineer Shupe, a modern half-million-dollar disposal plant was built at Doon, six miles southeast of the city line.
But Kitchener still had the old farm on its hands. What can be done with an abandoned sewage farm? These folks found the answer. Using relief labor, the city built first an extensive and really beautiful rock garden along the edge of the farm nearest the highway, then transformed the rest of the seemingly useless acreage into as nifty an eighteen-hole municipal golf course as you ever sliced a drive over. Rockway Park and Golf Club are a valuable civic asset today. The trolley line takes you there. Handsome new suburban homes are springing up beside the fairways, so if you are a golfer and happen to be lucky enough to own one of these villas, you can step from your front door onto the first tee and be on your way in the time it takes less fortunate men to throw their bags into the back of the car. Rockway is only one of a series of public parks and playgrounds in Kitchener covering a total of 208 acres.
The city is especially fortunate in its water supply. The water, pumped from seemingly inexhaustible artesian wells, is pure in its natural state, requires no chemical treatment.
There is a municipal baseball park and a municipal hockey rink in Kitchener. Wading pools and open-air rinks are built in the playgrounds according to the season. It is an intensely sport-conscious community, and its past and present achievements in this direction have made, and are making, sport history.
Kitchener’s first national fame in sport came through the triumphs of its soccer teams of twenty-five and thirty years ago. Latterly the town has established itself as a producer of hockey players, with a record probably surpassing that of any other city of comparable size in Canada.
Hugh Lehman, a stalwart of the seven-man hockey era, was a Kitchener boy. So was George Hainsworth, one of the greatest goaltenders of all time. The late Albert (Babe) Siebert, although not born in Kitchener, served his early hockey apprenticeship with Kitchener O.H.A. teams. Earl (Si) Seibert, of the Chicago Black Hawks, is a Kitchener product. So is Ehrhardt (Ott) Heller, currently of the present Stanley Cup holders, New York Rangers.
Now it has come about that last winter’s doings have elevated Kitchener and Waterloo to a new hockey pinnacle. When the statisticians had totalled their last integer, three members of the Boston Bruins occupied the three top places in the N.H.L. scoring record, in this order: Milton Schmidt, fifty-two points; Woodrow Dumart, forty-three points; Robert Bauer, forty-two points. It is unusual for a complete forward line to monopolize, as a unit, the highest scoring honors over the spread of a full season's schedule. Never before have all three leaders been born and brought up in the same community. Schmidt and Dumart are Kitchener lads. Bauer’s birthplace is Waterloo.
This summer will see Kitchener in yet another unique spot as a sport centre. Three years ago the Kitchener-Waterloo Skating Club was organized with a charter membership of twelve enthusiasts. Since then the membership has skyrocketed to three hundred. Dr. A. E. Broome, the president—known to young and old in Kitchener as “Dusty” Broome—is responsible for a bold experiment. All through the warm weather the club will hold ice in the Granite rink for the benefit of members and guests. No other club in Canada offers year-round skating. There are only three other all-year rinks on the continent.
There is hardly any land sport you can name that Kitchener and Waterloo cannot provide. There are three golf clubs besides Rockway. There are baseball, softball, bowling, cricket, football, lacrosse and curling clubs, and a riding club with an increasing membership. The Seagram stable is a Waterloo institution. When there’s snow on the ground, the near-by hills offer good skiing and tobogganing. There are dozens of tennis courts, and if it’s badminton you want, you can have that, too.
BOTH Kitchener and Waterloo are intense about music, especially band music. Each community has its own band, and the rivalry between them is keen, sometimes even vehement, although they are operated on somewhat different lines.
In Kitchener the band organization is linked with the local Conservatory of Music, a healthy and prospering institution averaging around 500 students, that has never had a deficit in a quarter of a century’s existence. Head of the Conservatory and leader of its various associated bands is Professor George H. Ziegler, Lieutenant-Bandmaster of the Scots Fusiliers of Canada, the county militia organization, successor to the old Twenty-ninth Regiment. Mr. Ziegler actually has four bands under his baton. First of all there is the beginners’ band, catching young musicians and training them. Instruments are provided if the lads have no money to buy them. The novices graduate into the Junior Boys’ Band, after a ten weeks training course. They perform with the Juniors for two or three years, then move up again to the Senior Boys’ Band, a nationally known organization. The Kitchener Senior Boys’ Band has a record of fifteen successive first prizes, won at various exhibitions, and something like five hundred medals gained by individual members as soloists. The members of the Scots Fusiliers Band are drafted from the Senior Boys’ Band. Kitchener is very proud of its band organizations and the city grants a sum of money annually to help keep the young musicians in instruments and uniforms.
Kitchener and Waterloo have joined hands in other musical enterprises. There is a Kitchener-Waterloo Y.M.C.A. Chorus, known on the air waves, a Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra and a Philharmonic Society.
The Waterloo Musical Society, founded in 1882, sponsors the Waterloo Band, directed by Professor C. F. Thiele, a past president of the Canadian Bandmasters Association and the editor of Musical Canada. Here is a musical organization of wide fame, and through its activities Waterloo has become a sort of bandsmen’s Mecca. The annual band festival attracts entries from all parts of the province. Something like forty different classifications, from brass bands to tenor saxophone solos, appear on the program for competition. The festival is attended each year by thousands of out-of-town visitors. It is one of Waterloo’s biggest occasions, a tourist attraction of considerable value to the town.
Some Waterloo musicians have been connected with the Musical Society since its early years, and they have a Veterans’ Band of their own, mustering around eighty members who get together whenever they feel like it and play for fun and old times’ sake. In Kitchener or Waterloo you can’t turn a corner without bumping into somebody who has a practical as well as an academic interest in music in one form or another.
Kitchener has its own newspaper, the Daily Record, a compact, well-edited evening publication with an average daily circulation of over 14,000 copies. Senator W. D. Euler is president of the publishing company, and W. J. Motz, a son of one of the two men who founded the enterprise in 1856, is vice-president and managing director. Waterloo has its own weekly paper, the Chronicle.
ONE SEES Kitchener, then, as a community of varied industries, most of them concerned with manufacturing. The picture of Waterloo is different. In the smaller community, insurance is the big business. As earlier stated, five insurance companies have headquarters in the town: the Mutual Life Assurance Company of Canada; the Dominion Life Assurance Company; the Equitable Life Insurance Company of Canada; the Waterloo Mutual Fire Insurance Company; and the North Waterloo Farmers Mutual Fire Insurance Company. Waterloo boosters call their town “the Hartford of Canada.’’
Another important financial institution is the Waterloo Trust and Savings Company, a flourishing banking and trust organization. Between them these half-dozen concerns employ about six hundred people the year round, and distribute wages amounting to $875,000.
Waterloo’s thirty-three industrial plants have an average employment roll of 1,200 men and women, to whom they pay out something like $1,080,000 annually in wages and salaries. There are four furniture companies, including Snyder’s Ltd., two glove companies, and two companies making brushes and brooms. Two companies turn out springs. Other industrial products of Waterloo include agricultural machinery and auto parts, dies, plywood, felt, boxes, barrels, buttons, cereals, bedding, shirts, shoes and trunk and bag hardware.
The main plant of Joseph E. Seagram and Sons, Limited, is in Waterloo. The Sunshine-Waterloo Company is the Canadian branch of an Australian organization making agricultural machinery.
The town was incorporated in 1857. Its municipal affairs are administered by a mayor—Mr. Wesley McKersie holds the office this year—a reeve, a deputy reeve, and a town council of half a dozen elected members. Committees of the council handle departmental affairs.
Waterloo has its own Board of Trade. H. A. Moyer, owner of the Waterloo Printing Company, is the 1940 president. J. A. McCorkindale, cashier of the Mutual Life of Canada, has served the organization for many years as secretary.
This year the town finds itself in a healthy financial condition. Its assessed valuation is now $7,175,780, the highest in Waterloo’s history, and almost double the valuation of twenty years ago. The debenture debt has been reduced at regular intervals for some years past. It now stands at $526,004, a per capita average of $61, the lowest in the town’s recent history.
Today there is no relief problem amounting to anything in Waterloo. Since 1931, when the question of what to do with the unemployed first became pressing, the town has financed its relief almost entirely through voluntary contributions. In the past eight years close to $80,000 has been raised through annual appeals. The fund has been administered by a citizens’ committee. The full-time relief officer is E. A. Strasser, a social service worker who knows all the angles. Mr. Strasser volunteered for the job nine years ago. He receives no salary, only an allowance for expenses.
This year the town council advanced sufficient funds to carry on the work, and the committee decided there was no further need for any public appeal. All through the depression years no Waterloo debentures have been sold to finance relief.
Waterloo has its own public library. There are four parks, of which Westside Park, the largest, covers sixty-four acres, including a small lake providing excellent bathing facilities, an athletic field, and—as one might expect from Waterloo—one of the finest shell bandstands on the continent.
CITIZENS of both Kitchener and Waterloo are keen on flowers and trees. Their horticultural societies, the flower shows, the landscaping of their parks and the profusion of their private gardens all testify to an unusual enthusiasm for growing things. The urge goes farther than that. The municipality of Kitchener, for instance, has undertaken reforestation on a large scale, and this is an enterprise not ordinarily linked with civic affairs.
The movement seems to have started in 1915, when the Water Commission planted 1,000 walnut trees on the land surrounding its Shoemaker Avenue pumping station. Since then 22,600 other trees of various sorts have been placed in this area, 20,100 have been established in Breithaupt Park, a municipal forest in the north end of the city, and no less than 163,100 trees have been planted on fifty acres around the Doon sewage disposal plant. Most of the trees are conifers—pines, spruces, cedars—but there has also been a considerable planting of walnut, white elm and rock elm, larch, maple, butternut and oak. Kitchener folks believe that no other industrial city in Canada can equal this record of over 200,000 trees planted on civic property during the past quarter of a century.
This passion for horticultural effort may possibly bear some relationship to another notable characteristic of the Kitchener-Waterloo community. Here are people who go in for Christmas. Their streets are strung lavishly with festoons of colored lights, their public buildings are brilliantly, almost extravagantly bedecked; even the humblest home adds its contribution to the spectacle. Members of service clubs put in long hours carrying generous hampers to those in need, and so thorough are the advance preparations for the distribution, that service club officers state positively that no man, woman or child is overlooked. Nobody in Kitchener or Waterloo is permitted to forget that Christmas is Christmas.
The first idea for hydro-electric development in Ontario came from the inspiration of a Kitchener genius of remarkable vision, the late D. B. Detweiler, who was also the first proponent of a St. Lawrence Deep Waterway and of the Fort Erie-Buffalo Peace Bridge. It was at Mr. Detweiler’s instigation that a meeting of representative businessmen from all parts of the province was called together in Berlin (now Kitchener) to discuss ways and means of transmitting Niagara Falls power throughout the province. From that gathering, in 1906, the Hydro development stems. On October 11, 1910, a hushed audience packed a Berlin auditorium, sitting in midnight darkness until Sir James Whitney placed his hand over the hand of Sir Adam Beck. The two hands pressed a button—and power generated at Niagara illuminated the hall. That was Hydro's inaugural.
Enterprise such as this has made Kitchener and Waterloo the unusual communities they are. Just as Detweiler imagined Hydro, George Schlee, Jacob Kaufman, A. L. Breithaupt and Louis Weber brought the rubber industry to their town. They organized the first rubber factory there in 1900—before automobiles. It was Cyrus N. Taylor who created first the Waterloo Mutual Fire Insurance Company in 1863, then the Ontario Mutual Life Insurance Company—now the Mutual Life of Canada—in 1870, and so established Waterloo as an insurance centre. The first beet sugar mill in Canada was built in Kitchener. More recently, it is A. R. Goudie’s Kitchener department store that has doors operated by a photo-electric ray, opening automatically as a customer passes through the ray’s orbit.
When these folks want something, they go after it. Right now they want Number Seven Highway paved throughout, between Kitchener and Sarnia. There is a seventeen-mile stretch of gravel that Kitchener folks would like to see covered with more permanent material. If they don’t get action soon, they are quite capable of going out and paving it themselves.
Kitchener, Waterloo, and the country round about have produced a number of famous Canadians who didn’t turn out to be hockey players. Walter P. Zeller, head of the chain store organization that bears his name, was a farm boy in Breslau, brought up and educated in Kitchener. The famous Seagrams are a Waterloo family. Prime Minister W. L. Mackenzie King was born in Kitchener. Senator Euler, long a member of Mackenzie King cabinets, is a Kitchener man, born in Conestogo, a few miles away.