Kitchener, Ontario Basics You Need to Know

Planning, or considering a move to Kitchener, Ontario, but really don't know much about it? To get you started as you begin to research the area here's a look at some of the basics about the Kitchener you'll need to know.

Kitchener, Ontario Quick History

Kitchener developed alongside the City of Waterloo and their destinies are still closely entwined to this day. Once known as Berlin, in honour of the large number of German immigrants who chose to settle there instead of in the growing Waterloo, the city was renamed in 1916 due to the anti-German sentiment during World War I, after British military hero Lord Kitchener.

Since the 1950s when Waterloo attained city status, Kitchener and Waterloo have been known as the "Twin Cities", "K-W", or "Kitchener-Waterloo". Increasingly, Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge (a 1970s merger of the older City of Galt with the neighbouring Towns of Preston and Hespeler, and the village of Blair) are being referred to collectively as the "Tri-Cities".

Kitchener Today

The financial legacy of Kitchener is rooted in manufacturing. Although the dependency of the local economy on manufacturing has decreased, 20.36 percent of the labour force was working in the manufacturing sector in 2106.

There are four municipal business parks in the town: the Bridgeport Business Park, the Grand River West Business Park, the Huron Business Park and the Corporate Center of Lancaster.

The economy of Kitchener has diversified to include new high value economic clusters. Digital media and health science clusters are emerging within the region, in addition to Kitchener's internationally recognized finance and insurance and development clusters.

The new incarnation of Kitchener's historic farmers market was opened in 2004. One of the oldest continuously running markets in Canada.

In the educational sector, The University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy and Downtown Health Sciences Campus groundbreaking ceremony took place on 15 March 2006, and the facility opened in the spring of 2009. The building is on King Street near Victoria Street, across the street from Kaufman Lofts.

More recently McMaster University opened a satellite campus next to the School of Pharmacy of the University of Waterloo for its Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine. The Health Sciences Campus was central to the emergence of the health science cluster at Kitchener.

Kitchener Demographics

When breaking down the population by demographics, there are slightly more females than males, accounting for 50.8% and 49.2% of the population, respectively. The median age of Kitchener’s residents is 37, which falls below the national average. The city also has a higher percentage of children under the age of five and a lower percentage of residents over retirement age when compared to national averages.

The majority of the population are from Canada, but there is also a high percentage of German residents. They account for about one-quarter of the total population. Other groups include English, Irish, Scottish and French, to name a few.

Getting Around Kitchener

Where other cities are laid out more or less on a grid Kitchener streets are not, rather follow their own famously complex patterns with frequent twists and turns, many continuing into adjoining Waterloo.

Street directions are designated E, W, N, and S, but only one major cross street, Lancaster Street East/West, is true to the compass (running, oddly enough, straight north/south). King, Weber and Westmount are the principal EW streets in Kitchener (at Union Street, they become King, Weber and Westmount in Waterloo, where they are designated N/S). Queen, Frederick, Ottawa and Victoria, are the principal NS cross-streets.

There is an express route, known locally as the Conestoga Parkway, , which loops traffic on Highways 7&8 traffic through Kitchener South and Highway 85 traffic through Waterloo North.

Addresses number EW from Queen, NS from King.

The centre of the city, known as downtown, is divided into four neighbourhoods:

  • Warehouse District at the north end of downtown, full of disused factories, many of which are now being converted into loft condominiums or offices.

  • Downtown Core, the centre of downtown, contains city hall and a large number of other sights, as well as many office buildings, shops and restaurants.

  • Civic Centre, contains many public buildings, including the public library, the police station and the Centre in the Square concert hall.

  • East End, contains many small shops and inexpensive restaurants as well as the Kitchener Market.

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