About Kitchener, ON

Introduction to Kitchener

Located in the Saint Lawrence Lowlands of Ontario's southwest, the city of Kitchener is the geographical, cultural and economic centre of the Waterloo Region. Less than an hour's drive from Toronto and only 45 minutes from both Pearson and Hamilton International Airports, Kitchener and its adjacent sister city Waterloo are often referred to together as Kitchener-Waterloo or K-W.

Kitchener has retained key parts of its German heritage and identity, while also embracing a diverse, multicultural population. Over 219,000 people now call Kitchener home, and we have earned a reputation for being one of Canada's friendliest and most livable cities. Kitchener mixes together first class urban amenities with a small-city atmosphere ideal for active, growing families. Get all the opportunities of a major metropolitan area without worrying about impossible traffic congestion or crowds.

The Kitchener real estate market includes over 86,000 homes and has something for everyone. Whether you're family needs room to grow up in or you're looking to downsize your life into a comfortable condo-style footprint, Kitchener has homes perfect for every budget and style preference.

  • Kitchener City Hall
  • King Street at Night
  • Residential Street Near Downtown


History of Kitchener

The history of Kitchener goes back to 1784 when the land was give to the Six Nations in thanks for their allegiance to the British during the American Revolution. Over the next 15 years, 38,000 hectares of this land was sold first to a Loyalist Colonel, and then to a group of German Mennonite farming families who split it up into 160 farm tracts. Over the next decade, more families relocated here, including the Schneider family whose restored 1816 home still stands in Kitchener's downtown on the edge of Victoria Park today.

The area was officially designed as the Township of Waterloo in 1816 by the Government of Upper Canada, and immigration continued throughout the 1800s, including many more German newcomers. In 1833 the area was named Berlin, and in the 1850s Berlin officially became a village. Thanks to the extension of the Grand Trunk Railway that ran from Sarnia to Toronto through Berlin, after 1856 the area enjoyed improved industrialization.

In 1912 Berlin was designated a city, but with the rise of the First World War and anti-German sentiment soon after, in 1916 the name of the city was changed to Kitchener after much debate and controversy. While the city's population has diversified culturally over the last century, German influence remains central to its identity.

Local Government

The local Kitchener city government is composed of one Mayor and ten City Councillors, each representing a ward or district of Kitchener.

Interdependence between the cities and townships in the Waterloo Region has lead to the creation of a regional government to manage many of the shared services, including waste management, public transit, as well as emergency and police services. The regional government consists of a 16 member council: in addition to the mayors of the three cities, the mayors of the four townships, the council also has a Regional Chair, four additional Councillors representing Kitchener, two additional Councillors from Waterloo, and two additional Councillors from Cambridge.

Parks and Recreation

The city of Kitchener has over 1,600 hectares of parkland, including over 300 parks, 100 playgrounds, and 200+ kilometres of community trails, enjoyed by residents throughout the seasons.

Located in the heart of Downtown Kitchener is Victoria Park. Only a short walk from City Hall, many consider Victoria Park to be the jewel of Kitchener, featuring both tranquil green spaces and historical amenities dating back to official opening of the park in 1896. It is home to Kitchener's iconic clock tower, as well two cannons, an urban lake with a boathouse, picnic shelters, flower gardens, the Victoria Park Pavillion, an art gallery, and several sport fields, courts and ice rinks. In addition to beautiful flower gardens and tended parkland, Victoria Park is a cultural hotspot in Kitchener, hosting several of the city's biggest annual festivals.

Iron Horse Trail is one of Kitchener-Waterloo's most popular multi-use pathways, which links Kitchener's Victoria Park with Waterloo Park. Formerly a railway corridor, the trail has become a favoured activity centre for biking, jogging, walking and roller blading.

McLennan Park is one of the city's newest recreational areas, a 39 hectare site featuring a playground, an off-leash dog park, a skatepark, a BMX bike park, picnic shelters, a toboggan hill, basketball courts, and beach volleyball courts in addition to ample lawn areas and pedestrian trails.

Kiwanis Park can be found on the east side of Kitchener, set on the banks of the Grand River. A popular summer destination, this parkland features a lake-like swimming pool, beach volleyball, playgrounds, picnic shelters, an outdoor ice rink, and an off-leash dog park. Here you can find quick access to the Walter Bean Trail and the Grand River parkland area. These kilometres of multi-use pathways are frequented by runners and bikers in the summer, while in the winter the 290 kilometre Grand River watershed is a popular snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing destination.

  • Huron Natural Area
  • Auditorium Skatepark
  • Clock Tower in Victoria Park

Schools and Education

There are four school boards that operate and service families in the Kitchener-Waterloo area.

The Waterloo Regional District School Board is the one of the largest school boards in the province, serving approximately 60,000 students in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. Students are equipped with the skills, knowledge and positive attitude needed to promote lifelong learning. The District School Board Centre-South-West provides public, French language based education for the south central area of Ontario. The board currently operates 29 elementary schools and 11 secondary schools.

The Waterloo Catholic District School Board is the eighth largest Catholic school system in Ontario, and promotes educational excellence in an inclusive, faith-based environment. The Catholic District School Board Centre South provides Roman Catholic, faith-based French language school for students K through grade 12. Over 13,000 students receive educations through one of this board's 40 elementary schools and 8 secondary schools.

Kitchener is home to the widely respected post secondary institutions, the Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning. Minutes away in Kitchener's sister city Waterloo are two world-class universities, the University of Waterloo and the Wilfrid Laurier University. A satellite campus of WLU can be found in Downtown Kitchener, and is home to the Faculty of Social Work, while the University of Waterloo recently opened the first phase of their Downtown Kitchener Health Sciences Campus, anchored by the School of Pharmacy.

Kitchener Culture

Kitchener is known in Ontario for being a vibrant and friendly city, welcoming to both new residents and visitors alike. Much of the city's character comes from its German roots, which are put on display every year during the annual Oktoberfest, the single largest Bavarian festival outside of Munich, Germany. 700,000 people come from all around the world to celebrate German culture in Kitchener, and the festival is one of the most loved in the city. Other popular yearly festivals include the KW Multicultural Festival, the Blues Festival, KidSpark, and the Word on the Street book and magazine festival.

The Kitchener Market on King Street is a popular Saturday morning destination, and is one of the oldest consistently operating markets in Canada, having been loved by Kitchener-Waterloo residents for over 130 years. You can find a little bit of everything at this market, and its international flavour has created a neighbourhood area where culturally diverse restaurants and businesses thrive side by side.

The Centre in the Square, Kitchener's world class concert hall, features a wide range of events including live music, dance performances, and theatrical main stage shows, while the Conrad Centre for the Performing Arts is home to the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. Fine art lovers can visit the Rotunda Gallery at City Hall, or taken the latest exhibits at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery on Queen Street.

  • Saturday Farmers' Market
  • Oktoberfest
  • Waterloo Region Museum