Stories That Move You

ION Laurier-Waterloo Park: Pools, Farms, and Zoos

Waterloo Park

P000552 (WHS Collection) Panoramic view of Waterloo Park, also known as Westside Park

When the doors of the ION train open at the Laurier – Waterloo Park station, what are you going to find? Easy access to Wilfrid Laurier University with a quick stroll down Seagram Drive, yes, but do you know that a door is being opened to a very unique place?

The idyllic scene of dappled sunlight, trees and trails can be deceptive. An area bustling with activities and features, Waterloo Park, originally called Westside Park, was created in 1890 when the Town of Waterloo purchased 75 acres of land from the Jacob Eby family.  It officially opened on 7 August 1893. Waterloo County’s first school house, built in 1820, was purchased and moved to the park in 1894.

The park included a pavilion, built in 1897, but later removed in 1972. A pool and concession stand were opened in 1951 beside Silver Lake. The pool was converted to a splash pad, known as Lion’s Lagoon, in 1994. Along with a miniature railway, a small zoo was added in 1960, which housed wildlife such as black bears, timber wolves and cougars.  Vandalism, escapes, concern for animal welfare, and changing perceptions of animal captivity resulted in the zoo’s transformation into the Eby Farm in 1990 – showcasing miniature horses, donkeys, sheep, peacocks and alpacas.  

The photo above shows a view of Waterloo Park that includes the bicycle track, constructed in 1892. The covered grandstand, built by Alois Bauer in 1894, provided shelter for spectators attending local sporting events, bicycle, motorcycle and dog races. It was demolished in 1953.

Will you be an explorer today?

Cheers, Karen

This is post 5 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.