Heritage map pinpoints Kitchener's pre-Confederation properties

A new map from Heritage Kitchener highlights properties in the city that were constructed or created before Canadian Confederation in 1867.

Heritage Kitchener map includes 44 properties more than 150 years old

Michelle Drake is the senior heritage and policy planner for the City of Kitchener. Here, she points out a home built in 1866, located in the city's Civic Centre heritage district. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Michelle Drake stands at the intersection of Ellen Street West and Queen Street North in Kitchener's Civic Centre heritage district on a sunny, summer afternoon. 

She points to a Georgian-style house that was once coral colour, now painted white — one of 44 buildings on a new heritage map of houses in Kitchener built before Canada's Confederation in 1867. 

"We don't know a whole lot about the history of this site other than its approximate age of being built sometime between 1852 and 1855 and that the bricks that were used to build the house may have [come] from a brick maker whose property was in behind the house," said Drake, the city's senior heritage and policy planner. 

This home on Queen Street North was initially one storey when it was built in 1857, but 30 years later a second storey and the Italianate details were added. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Across the road is a large brick home that stands out because the lower half of the house is a different colour from the top.

It was originally, architecturally speaking, an Ontario cottage: a single storey house, built by Dr. John Scott. Thirty years after it was built, druggist John Hoffman bought it and added the second floor and the Italianate features to the structure.

"In all likelihood, when he added that second storey, the building was probably painted to hide the fact that there were two different coloured bricks, likely because he couldn't find the original brick colour," Drake said.

Awareness of history

The map was created by Heritage Kitchener to celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary.

"The Heritage Kitchener committee wanted to bring about some awareness and promotion of the heritage properties in Kitchener," Drake said.
Signs were placed on many of the properties to let people walking and driving past know about the history of that location. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

For the month of July, many of the properties featured a sign to alert people walking by that the building has been standing for more than 150 years. Drake said about 80 per cent of the property owners were excited to take part in the project.

The map is available on the City of Kitchener's website, currently under the Celebrate Canada 150 in Kitchener section.
This clapboard house on Ahrens Street West was built in 1866. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

More than houses

Many of the properties are still used today for residential purposes and the owners maintain the log, stone, clapboard and brick exteriors.

There are three properties that are the earliest cemeteries in Kitchener and four properties were once much larger farms, which creates a link to the city's rural roots.

The committee wanted to "create awareness about the heritage in our community so people can start to understand how Kitchener formed and the stories behind some the buildings that still exist today."

The Waterloo County Gaol and Governor's House, built in 1852, is number 18 on the map. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)