Regional Municipality of Waterloo

For the electoral district, see Kitchener—Waterloo (electoral district).
Waterloo Region
Upper-tier regional municipality
Regional Municipality of Waterloo

Motto: "Peace, Prosperity!"

Location of Waterloo Region in Ontario
Coordinates: 43°28′N 80°30′W / 43.467°N 80.500°W / 43.467; -80.500Coordinates: 43°28′N 80°30′W / 43.467°N 80.500°W / 43.467; -80.500
Country  Canada
Province  Ontario
  Regional Chair Ken Seiling
  Governing Body Waterloo Regional Council
  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 (collectively called the Tri-Cities), 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 at 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. The cities of Galt, Kitchener, and Waterloo were previously independent single tier municipalities prior to joining the newly formed regional municipality. 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 amalgamation 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 Bridgeport was annexed to the city of Kitchener. The settlement of Erbsville was annexed to the city of Waterloo. 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]


Region of Waterloo Headquarters in Kitchener

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), Karl Kiefer, Helen Jowett
City of Kitchener Berry Vrbanovic (Mayor), Karen Redman, Tom Galloway, Geoff Lorentz, Elizabeth Clarke
City of Waterloo Dave Jaworsky (Mayor), Jane Mitchell, Sean Strickland
Township of Woolwich Sandy Shantz (Mayor)
Township of Wellesley Joe Nowak (Mayor)
Township of Wilmot Les Armstrong (Mayor)
Township of North Dumfries Sue Foxton (Mayor)

Past Regional Chairs:


Census Subdivision Population (2011 census)[9]
City of Kitchener 219,153
City of Cambridge 126,748
City of Waterloo 98,780
Township of Woolwich 23,145
Township of Wilmot 19,223
Township of Wellesley 10,713
Township of 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.


Canada census – Regional Municipality of Waterloo community profile
2011 2006 2001
Population: 507,096 (6.1% from 2006) 478,121 (9.0% from 2001) 438,515 (8.2% from 1996)
Land area: 1,368.94 km2 (528.55 sq mi) 1,368.64 km2 (528.43 sq mi) 1,368.55 km2 (528.40 sq mi)
Population density: 370.4/km2 (959/sq mi) 349.3/km2 (905/sq mi) 320.4/km2 (830/sq mi)
Median age: 36.4 (M: 35.5, F: 37.4) 35.3 (M: 34.4, F: 36.1)
Total private dwellings: 202,121 187,088 166,813
Median household income:
References: 2011[10] 2006[11] 2001[12]

Historic populations:[12]

Waterloo is one of the fastest growing regions in Southwestern Ontario; by 2031, the region's population is expected to grow to 729,000,[13] 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 owing to its proximity to the Greater Toronto Area as well as its status as a technology hub. Immigrants accounted for 22.3% of the region's total population according to the 2006 census.[14] According to the 2011 National Household Survey, visible minorities accounted for 15.4% of the region's total population.


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, 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.


The Conestoga Parkway in Kitchener-Waterloo.

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[17] and underwent a major expansion in 2003. GO Transit provides rail services to the region on the Kitchener line.

The Region has started construction of a rapid transit link system (branded ION) between Waterloo, Kitchener, and is in the planning stages of an extension to Cambridge. Light Rail Transit was chosen as the preferred technology for the new rapid transit system in 2009.[18] In March 2014, GrandLinq was identified as the preferred bidder in the staff report on the final bids, and approved by the Region's Planning and Works committee. Regional Council gave final approval on March 19, with financial close being made May 9.[19] 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. Construction started in August 2014 with work on the site that will become the operations, maintenance and storage facility for the system. Ion is expected to be completed by summer 2017 and have 27,000 riders on opening day.[20]

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 27 vehicles stationed in the Region of Waterloo.


Notable residents

See also



  1. 1 2 3 "(Code 3530) Census Profile". 2011 census. Statistics Canada. 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-06.
  2. 1 2 "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. Retrieved 2011-03-16.
  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. as per his daughter
  9. "Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, and census subdivisions (municipalities), 2011 and 2006 censuses". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2012-02-15.
  10. "2011 Community Profiles". Canada 2011 Census. Statistics Canada. July 5, 2013. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
  11. "2006 Community Profiles". Canada 2006 Census. Statistics Canada. March 30, 2011. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
  12. 1 2 "2001 Community Profiles". Canada 2001 Census. Statistics Canada. February 17, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
  13. Living in the Region of Waterloo
  14. "Region of Waterloo Census Bulletin" (PDF). Region of Waterloo. Retrieved 2011-03-16.
  15. " 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
  16. "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
  17. "Total aircraft movements by class of operation". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2011-02-17.
  19. "Region finalizes agreement with GrandLinq for ION Stage 1 LRT". Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  20. "Common Questions: Rapid Transit in Waterloo Region". Retrieved 9 April 2015.
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