Stories That Move You

ION Waterloo Public Square: Uptown Downtown

Waterloo Town Square, Waterloo, ON

MC60 P001038 (KPL Collection) Waterloo Town Square, Waterloo ON

Where is uptown actually downtown? In Waterloo, naturally! As ION slides into the Waterloo Public Square station, you’ll find yourself passing by a ‘square’ that’s been a shopping mall and office complex, and now a public space.

The image above shows the stores and office tower of Waterloo Town Square, which opened on 19 October 1961. Construction of the complex followed the demolition of the Waterloo Manufacturing and Snyder factory buildings and required the enclosure and burial of Laurel Creek beneath the area. In addition to retail stores, the mall included a bowling alley in the basement. Waterloo Town Square was expanded in 1977.

Plans for the demolition of the mall started in 2000, along with a proposal to extend Willis Way to Caroline Street. By 2005, the office building of the complex was torn down. The mall was remodelled to include street facing retail space and the public square was opened in 2009 to provide a gathering space for public events, music, and festivals.

Cheers, Karen

This is post 6 of 19 in the Stories That Move You series.

Stories that Move You is a Kitchener Public Library project that celebrates the launch of ION service with curated collections of reads, music, audio, learning resources, and local history to help people make the most of an unique window of time during their public transit ride.

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Stories That Move You

ION Victoria Park: The Cradle of Light Rail

Kitchener Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Office on King Street

MC60 P000328 Kitchener Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Office, King Street West, Kitchener (KPL Collection), ca. 1950

If you are a reader of this blog, you’ll know that light rail transit is not new to the Region. Street railways were a part of life in Waterloo County dating from 1886 to late December 1946. And the building pictured above housed the organization that operated our street rail system.

Built in 1931-1932, the Kitchener Public Utilities Commission building is a short walk up Gaukel Street from ION Victoria Park station. It sits directly across from Kitchener City Hall on King Street. It was built of cut granite and sandstone in a similar style to Kitchener’s old city hall, which was built in 1924.

It housed the offices of the Kitchener Public Utilities Commission which ran the street railway Kitchener and Waterloo starting 1906 when the Town of Berlin took over operation of the street railway. This lovely three-storey Beaux Arts building, pictured above in the 1950s, lends a sense of grandeur to the Commission’s many operations. Among its many achievements, the Commission helped bring Niagara generated hydroelectric to Berlin on 10 October 1910, making it the first municipality in Ontario to do so.

If you are interested in learning more about the history of the street railways in Kitchener and Waterloo, you can read Part 1 here. (Part 2 will follow later this summer).

Cheers, Karen

This is post 12 of 19 in the Stories That Move You series.

Stories that Move You is a Kitchener Public Library project that celebrates the launch of ION service with curated collections of reads, music, audio, learning resources, and local history to help people make the most of an unique window of time during their public transit ride.

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ION Central: One Man’s Castle

Canadian Goodrich Company Office, Kitchener, ON, 1925

P000284 Canadian Goodrich Company Office, ca. 1925 (WHS Collection)

Who would have thought that a once stately home would be the front office of a rubber factory? ION’s Central station location – and its past – have the clue.

On the corner of King Street West and Victoria Street South, where the University of Waterloo’s School of Pharmacy stands, you would have found the Canadian Goodrich Company. The front offices were in a house called “Bowhill” which was the former home of Ward Hamilton (W.H.) Bowlby, a Berlin lawyer, politician, and Waterloo County Crown attorney for 50 years before his death in 1917.

At this expansive plant, Goodrich, later known as BF Goodrich Canada, produced a wide array of products – from tires, car parts, and shoes to golf balls.

How did Bowlby’s house become the front office of the Goodrich plant? It was once a quiet 11-acre estate at King and Victoria (then Wilmot) Street, near the CNR railway line. After Bowlby’s death in 1917, his wife sold the property to the Ames-Holden Tire Co. The company made tires and shoes in a new building on the property, but used the Bowlby home, built in 1861, as its office. Ames-Holden was acquired by B.F. Goodrich of Akron, Ohio in 1922. The name was then changed to Canadian Goodrich as seen in the photo. The Bowlby home was used until 1929, when it was torn down.

In its heyday in the early 1950’s, this B.F. Goodrich plant employed 1200 people. In the late 1950s, Goodrich built facilities at 409 Weber St. West and a large tire plant in south Kitchener in the 1960s.

In 1983, the King and Victoria plant, which was B.F. Goodrich’s engineered products division, was sold to Epton Industries.  Epton was demolished in 1997, after the company went bankrupt.

Cheers, Karen

This is post 10 of 19 in the Stories That Move You series.

Stories that Move You is a Kitchener Public Library project that celebrates the launch of ION service with curated collections of reads, music, audio, learning resources, and local history to help people make the most of an unique window of time during their public transit ride.

 

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Stories That Move You

ION Queen: Fashion Forward

Arrow Shirt Factory, Kitchener, ON, ca. 1942

2001-026 Arrow Shirt Factory, Benton St. , Kitchener, ON, ca. 1942 (KPL Collection)

As your train pulls into ION Queen station, did you know that Benton Street area was home to Kitchener’s own “garment district”?

Clothing manufacturing was a big part of Kitchener’s industrial fabric from the late 19th century. Shirts, shoes, buttons, and other clothing production had its heyday before increasing global competition changed the manufacturing landscape in the post World War II era.

Benton Street holds a place of honour as it was the home to the Arrow Shirt factory. The building dates from 1913 when the Williams, Greene and Rome Company decided to expand its production facilities in Berlin and constructed a state-of-the-art industrial building at Benton and St. George streets.

Founded by Samuel James Williams in 1886, the first Williams, Greene and Rome factory was originally located on Queen Street South, at the corner of Courtland Ave., now the home of the Bread and Roses Housing Co-operative. Prior to Williams, Greene and Rome, this building housed the Vogelsang Button factory.

The new Benton Street building featured high ceilings, poured concrete construction, and large glass windows. The company was sold to Cluett, Peabody and Co., makers of the iconic Arrow shirt line, in 1919, a year prior to the retirement of Samuel Williams. The company was known around the world for its mens’ dress shirts with fully attached collars.

The factory was expanded in 1954 and 1961. The sewing machines fell silent on 30 March 2001 when production came to an end following the sale of the Arrow brand to the John Forsyth Shirt Company of Cambridge.

Today, the Arrow Lofts occupy the former factory.

Cheers, Karen

This is post 14 of 19 in the Stories That Move You series.

Stories that Move You is a Kitchener Public Library project that celebrates the launch of ION service with curated collections of reads, music, audio, learning resources, and local history to help people make the most of an unique window of time during their public transit ride.

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Stories That Move You

ION Borden: Famous for Quality and Community

J.M. Schneider Limited Shipping Room, 1937

P008419 J.M. Schneider Limited Shipping Room, 1937 (WHS Collection)

Not far from the ION Borden station, you will travel by a once-iconic landmark, known for a logo with a smiling young Dutch girl in a bonnet. The landmark is now gone, but memories still linger in our supermarket aisles.

Located at the intersection of Courtland and Borden, the J.M. Schneider Company was founded in 1890 by John Metz Schneider. The origins of the company date back to 1886, when J.M. was sidelined by a hand injury and unable to work at the Dominion Button Works. He and wife, Helena, started a home-based sausage making venture, which later grew into a small factory built on land beside his house at 55 Courtland Avenue East, near Benton. The family eventually moved to 379 Queen St. S, sometime after 1912.

Having outgrown the original meat packing plant, a new and larger facility was built at 321 Courtland Avenue. It opened in 1925. The 1937 image above shows the shipping department and employees packing Schneider’s famous sausages.

Despite several changes in ownership over the years, Schneiders maintained their local character and focus. Many generations of Kitchener-Waterloo families worked there over the years. Plans for the plant’s closure were announced in 2011 by parent company, Maple Leaf Foods. The final shift of work was completed on Friday 26 February 2015, closing the chapter on a 125-year run of meat production under the Schneider name.

Demolition of the Courtland Avenue plant was completed this spring to make way for a new community and mixed development space.

Cheers, Karen

This is post 16 of 19 in the Stories That Move You series.

Stories that Move You is a Kitchener Public Library project that celebrates the launch of ION service with curated collections of reads, music, audio, learning resources, and local history to help people make the most of an unique window of time during their public transit ride.

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Stories That Move You

ION Mill: Terminus, Turnaround, and Transfer

Aerial View of Rockway Gardens, ca. 1944

2011-060-12 Aerial view of Rockway Gardens, ca. 1944 (KPL Collection)

As you continue your ION time travel journey toward the Mill station, do you know where the Kitchener and Waterloo Street Railway ended? Here’s a hint – it was not very far from where you are now.

You might recognize a very young looking Rockway Gardens in the image above. This photograph was likely taken in mid 1940s, about 15 years after the creation of the garden. Looking south towards what would become the Conestoga Expressway in the late 1960s, the view capture the southern terminus of the Kitchener and Waterloo street railway system – Kitchener Junction. King Street East is visible to the left of Rockway Gardens and a streetcar track loop can see near the bottom left of the image.

Kitchener Junction marked the end point of the street railway system and the turnaround for the streetcars, enabling them to proceed back to Waterloo. It also was the connection point with the interurban Grand River Railway (GRR). The GRR tracks are visible to the right of the Kitchener Junction station and loop. Passengers could switch trains at Kitchener Junction – boarding the GRR or Kitchener and Waterloo Street Railway. The GRR connected the communities of Preston, Galt, and Hespeler with Waterloo in the north.

The carbarns for the street railway can be seen on the lower left corner of the image. In these garages, located at the corner of King St. E. and Albert (later renamed Madison) St., the streetcars were housed and repaired.

Street railway service in Kitchener and Waterloo came to an abrupt end on 27 December 1946, when an ice storm brought down overhead wires and an aging fleet of streetcars was left standing on the tracks. When trolley bus service was introduced in January 1947, Kitchener Junction continued to be used as a terminus and turnaround point.

Cheers, Karen

This is post 17 of 19 in the Stories That Move You series.

Stories that Move You is a Kitchener Public Library project that celebrates the launch of ION service with curated collections of reads, music, audio, learning resources, and local history to help people make the most of an unique window of time during their public transit ride.

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Stories That Move You

ION Frederick: Civic Memories

King and Frederick Streets, 1925 (WHS Collection)

P1319 King and Frederick Streets, 1925 (WHS Collection)

As ION heads north, our time travel journey will take us back to 1925 and an iconic place in Kitchener history and in our hearts. Do you recognize the building in the centre of the image?

The panoramic photograph above shows the intersection of King and Frederick Streets in August 1925. In the centre, you will see the beloved and stately old City Hall, built in 1924.

Designed by architects, W.H.E. Schmalz and B.A. Jones, it replaced an aging 1869 town hall built on the same site. Described stylistically as modern Roman in the Ionic order, newspaper reports noted that the council chambers were judged worthy of a chamber in the palaces of Versailles or Potsdam.

It was officially opened on 15 November 1924. Frederick Street was closed to traffic for the ceremony. A reported crowd of 20,000 attendees danced until midnight to music played by the Kitchener Musical Society band.

Over the years, City Hall has been remembered for its Christmas lighting, public gatherings, graceful centre stairs, and hub as civic place. For many years, the Kitchener police department had their headquarters in the basement. The street railway and, later, trolley buses, had a stop with a comfort station on King Street, in front of City Hall. The cenotaph was also relocated from a traffic island on Frederick Street to the front lawn.

When plans for the revitalization of Kitchener’s downtown were discussed in the early 1970s, controversy raged over the proposal to tear down City Hall to make way for the Market Square development and to build a larger and modern municipal building. On 7 September 1973, the doors to City Hall closed and staff moved to a new leased facility. Demolition of the building followed.

Public outcry over the demolition of City Hall helped to ensure that the iconic clock tower was saved and stored for future reconstruction. On 1 July 1995, the clock tower came to life again at the entrance to Victoria Park following a public rededication ceremony.

Cheers, Karen

This is post 13 of 19 in the Stories That Move You series.

Stories that Move You is a Kitchener Public Library project that celebrates the launch of ION service with curated collections of reads, music, audio, learning resources, and local history to help people make the most of an unique window of time during their public transit ride.

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