Kitchener mayor notes 100th year of name change
Kitchener mayor Berry Vrbanovic has noted the centennial anniversary of the city's name change.
"While the circumstances that prompted the name change were grim, that drive to reinvent, re-imagine and move forward in the face of adversity carried our city through and ultimately defined Kitchener and how we would continue to shape our own future in the century to come," Vrbanovic wrote in a statement Thursday.
"It was a very fractious time," Tom Reitz, manager-curator of the Waterloo Region Museum told Colin Butler on CBC Radio's The Morning Edition.
It was the middle of WWI and the region was home to a large number of people of Germanic descent who saw a lot of negative sentiment against them.
"A Lutheran minister was pulled out of his house ... he was dragged through the streets. German clubs were ransacked through the course of the war. It was just a really nasty time period."
When that anti-German sentiment started to affect industry and the local economy, it was time for a change.
Made in Berlin, Canada
Kitchener was a big manufacturing centre in those days. From leather goods like saddleware, horse tack and shoe leather to furniture, meat packing, and pianos – the city was a major industrial centre.
"Those products proudly stamped 'Made in Berlin, Canada' weren't selling. And so the Board of Trade is really the instigator behind all of this and said 'you know what, for economic reasons we need to change the name of this place'."
"Through what was likely one of our first community engagement campaigns, citizens chose to "Make it Kitchener" and we have been doing that every day since."
"That resilient spirit has become the foundation of many courageous and innovative decisions that have given Kitchener an economy that is envied," he said.
Listen to Tom Reitz, curator-manager at the Waterloo Region Museum describe the tumultuous time in 1916 when Berlin, Ont. contemplated its name change on CBC Radio's The Morning Edition.