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Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower

City of Kitchener

Cultural & Heritage, Parks & Trails, Things to Do

Waterloo Pioneers Memorial TowerWaterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower

The Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower is a 19-metre tall structure located in Kitchener near the Grand River. The tower was built on a site once cleared by the original Pennsylvania-German settlers of the area. The idea for the tower was conceived by William Henry Breithaupt with the hopes of settling anti-German sentiment after the First World War, the same sentiment that had resulted in the renaming of Berlin to Kitchener in 1916.

The walls of the Waterloo Pioneer Memorial Tower are made of fieldstone collected from the surrounding land. The roof is made from copper in a Swiss style, and is topped with a weathervane in the shape of a Conestoga wagon, a type of covered wagon used in the 1800s that is associated with the German heritage of the region. The Conestoga wagon was also how some of the first settlers of the region, Joseph Schörg and Samuel Betzner, travelled to Kitchener from Pennsylvania.

In 1923, the Waterloo County Pioneers’ Memorial Association was formed under William Henry Breithaupt, with the support of the Waterloo Historical Society. The Waterloo County Pioneers’ Memorial Association purchased a one-acre parcel of land from the estate of Samuel Betzner in 1924, and construction began the following year. The tower was designed by the Toronto architect William Langton.

The site is currently owned by Parks Canada, and its maintenance is managed by the Woodside National Historic Site.

The Waterloo Pioneer Memorial Tower is open to the public by reservation, and the grounds surrounding the tower are open year-round. These grounds include a cemetery which was already on the site when the tower was built, containing the graves of many of the early settlers of the region.

The tower is now a classified Federal Heritage Building, as a result of its important cultural and historical roots.