This page features interesting images of several of the buildings that you can visit as part of this year’s Doors Open event. Click on any image to see a larger version.
The Old Post Office, Waterloo
Before Waterloo had a post office, mail was delivered daily from the Preston Depot by stage coach or riders. In 1831, Waterloo’s first post office was built in King Street, and it changed location several times over the years. In 1912, this building on the corner of King and Dupont Streets was built. It was designed by David Ewart, Chief Architect for Canada, following the Romanesque-style of Canadian federal post offices at the time. In 1969, there was a fire in the building and the clock tower had to be rebuilt. Today, the building is home to research, training, and outreach activities of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.
Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower
The Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower in Kitchener, now a National Historic Site, was completed in 1926 to commemorate the arrival of the first pioneers in the region. A plaque on the tower reads: “In the spring of 1800, Joseph Schoerg and Samuel Betzner Jr., brothers-in-law, Mennonites, from Franklin County, Pennsylvania, began the first two farms in the county of Waterloo; Schoerg on land adjoining this farm, Betzner on the west side of the river, three miles downstream. In the same year came Samuel Betzner Sr., who took up a farm including this site. Other settlers followed and in 1805 a company formed in Pennsylvania purchased 60 000 acres, the German Company Tract, comprising the greater part of Block 2, Grand River Indian Lands, now Waterloo Township. This constituted the first larger settlement in the then far interior of Upper Canada.” In 1923, descendants of those first families and members of the Waterloo Historical Society formed a Memorial Association, purchased land on the old Betzner homestead where graves of several original family members were located, and constructed the tower. Today, the site is administered by Parks Canada.
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Homer Watson House and Gallery
The Homer Watson House & Gallery in Kitchener (formerly the hamlet of Doon) is the homestead of Canadian landscape painter Homer Watson (1855-1936), who was born in Doon. He purchased the house in 1881 and lived in it until his death. Watson personalized the house, which was built in 1834, in order to pursue his art, adding a studio in 1893 and a gallery in 1906. This gallery is one of the oldest operating galleries in Ontario. Some of Watson’s most loved works are views of the surrounding countryside from various vantage points from the house and around the property. The house was also home to the renowned Doon School of Fine Arts during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1980, the house and the surrounding three-acre property were designated as a National Historic Site.
The distillery on the corner of Erb and Caroline Streets in Waterloo was in continuous operation from 1857 to 1992. It began as the Granite Mills and Waterloo Distillery, established by William Hespeler, a merchant from Berlin, and George Randall, a contractor for the Grand Trunk Railway. In 1883, Joseph E. Seagram purchased the Granite Mills and Waterloo Distillery and renamed it J. E. Seagram’s Distillery. The business had included a flour mill and dry goods store, but Seagram concentrated on distilling and exporting, gaining an international reputation for producing quality whiskies.
In 1911, Seagram incorporated his company under the name Joseph E. Seagram and Sons, Limited. In 1928, the Bronfman family purchased the distillery and amalgamated it with their company, Distillers Corporation Limited. Distillers Corporation – Seagrams Limited became the world’s largest producer of spirits. The Waterloo plant underwent expansion during the 1950s through the 1970s. However, during the 1980s, sales of spirits declined across Canada and in 1992, the Seagram distillery closed.
In 1903, the privately owned gas and electric plants in Berlin were taken over by the town. At this time, D.B. Detweiler, E.W.B. Snider, and Sir Adam Beck were enthusiastically promoting the idea of bringing electricity generated by Niagara Falls to southwestern Ontario. The Berlin Light Commission was formed in 1906, and on October 11, 1910, the streets of Berlin were illuminated with hydroelectric power from Niagara through newly erected power lines. The Berlin Light Commission became the Kitchener Light Commission in 1916 when the city changed its name, and in 1925 it became Public Utilities Commission. A new office building for the commission opened in 1933 at King and Gaukel Streets in Kitchener. In 1978, the commission became the Hydro Electric Commission of Kitchener-Wilmot, and was incorporated in 2000. The current headquarters building on Victoria Street South was erected in 1985 with additions built in 1995 and 2004.
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