Archive for About Kitchener-Waterloo – Page 2

About Kitchener-Waterloo: Little Libraries of Kitchener-Waterloo


how to find a Little Library in Kitchener-Waterloo

A Little Library in Kitchener-Waterloo (photo from their Facebook group)

There is something about Kitchener-Waterloo that makes this area a great place to live and that is the feeling of community that is really at the heart of our hometown. Set aside the good location, excellent schools, thriving economy and all the other excellent features of Kitchener-Waterloo just for a moment and you’ll see the real reason people are flocking here. It’s the people. This feeling of a close-knit community comes from many different sources and you can see it in the little ways we bring people together. One way you can see how this community strives to connect and interact is through the abundance of Little Free Libraries.

What is a Little Free Library?

The Little Free Library movement began as a tribute to a mother who was also a teacher and book lover. Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin built a little model of a one-room schoolhouse to honor his mom, an avid reader and former school teacher. He filled it with books and displayed it on a post in his front yard. Soon friends and neighbors were asking for their own versions so he built a few more and made signs that read “free books”.

Bol’s little work of love was seen by Rick Brooks of the University of Wisconsin-Madison when he and Bol were discussing potential social enterprises. Inspired by people like Andrew Carnegie, who built over 2,500 free public libraries, the idea of making these small book collections into something much bigger soon took flight. It’s now a world-wide movement promoting literacy and a life-long love of reading though their over 25,000 locations.

The idea is pretty simple and it borrows heavily from the travelling libraries of the late 1800s as well as the more recent trend of “take one, leave one” book collections in coffee shops, hotels and other gathering places. A Little Free Library is just a waterproof box filled with books and mounted where it is accessible to the public. Anyone can take a book to read and they are encouraged to leave one (or more) behind for someone else to enjoy. A notebook is typically placed inside the box and readers can leave their thoughts on titles they’ve found within. This creates an ever-changing array of books and encourages the interaction of readers. Many Little Free Library hosts find that they get to know their neighbors and community members as they stop to peruse the box’s contents or make a contribution to the collection.

How do I get a Little Free Library for my Neighbourhood in Kitchener-Waterloo?

You can build your own Little Free Library (creativity is highly encouraged but make sure it is water/weatherproof) or you can order one here from the Little Libraries of KW. A one-time fee of around $50 will get you everything you need and you can choose the “gable” or the “shed” style. Another great resource in Waterloo Region is the Little Library KW Facebook group that you can join. You can find it here.

Once the box is built, just put in some books you’ve enjoyed and watch what happens! You could promote the new Little Free Library location in community newsletters or with handouts to nearby neighbors and share on your Facebook. Many neighbourhoods in Kitchener-Waterloo have Facebook pages; this is one of the best ways to inform residents. It won’t take much publicity to get the ball rolling because people will tell their neighbours too!

What is a charter number and why do I need it?

The charter number is your official entry on the Little Free Library World Map. This interactive listing of chartered Little Free Libraries helps people find the more than 25,000 locations world-wide. People who are interested in finding your Little Free Library will look to this map for guidance. You can provide your latitude and longitude location (GPS location) or a street address for your box. The map also gives a little “bio” on the steward(s) and why they’ve chosen to host a Little Free Library on their property. All of the information you need to get your Little Library registered can be found on their website located at

where are Little Libraries in Kitchener-Waterloo located?

An example of a Charter Number Registered with

How does a Little Free Library contribute to building community?

Anything that gets people talking will help bring them together. What gets people talking faster than a good book? You’ll get to see and meet people stopping to sift through the box’s contents or dropping off their own contributions. You can share your favorite reads and see what you have in common with your neighbors. These little collections of books become a touch-point for a neighborhood and a great way for kids to learn to appreciate books.

Are there any Little Free Libraries in Kitchener-Waterloo?

The Kitchener-Waterloo area is something of a “hotbed” for Little Free libraries! There are over 20 locations in the immediate Kitchener-Waterloo area plus more in Guelph, Cambridge, Fergus and Stratford. As people see how much fun it can be to steward and patronize a Little Free Library, you can expect more and more to crop up. Here is a list of locations in Kitchener-Waterloo CBC Kitchener-Waterloo also has a map of Little Libraries.

Something so small really does have an impact on the quality of life in a community. If you are considering moving to Kitchener-Waterloo, check out how friendly, welcoming and engaging our residents are through these Little Libraries.



Art with a Local Flair: The Galleries of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge


Local artists in Kitchener-Waterloo

Artwork Display of Local Artist Gary Barnett –

Although Kitchener-Waterloo is not a big metropolitan city, it still has all of all the sophistication and artistic flair of bigger cities. Art and culture are central to life in Waterloo Region and celebrated in both the city centers and in the homes of our residents too. Residents of Kitchener-Waterloo love fine art, which is evident by the number of popular galleries and museums that thrive here.


If you’re interested in going on an artistic journey in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, the place to start is THEMUSEUM. This isn’t your typical stodgy, dusty dull hall of aging artwork. THEMUSEUM is a vibrant and ever-changing display of art, technology and culture with a dash of science mixed in on a regular basis.

THEMUSEUM has a diverse array of programs for adults and children, permanent displays and changing exhibitions. It’s never the same from visit-to-visit. Interactive exhibits invite contact, collaboration and discussion while stimulating the imagination. It’s a fun-for-all-ages kind of place that redefines the concept of a museum. It’s cool and relevant but remains educational and inspirational.

Some of the permanent installations include a living wall at the entrance. The wall makes art from nature plus it cools the building and cleans the air. A magnetic wall invites visitors to add to the art with their own combination of words, shapes and gears. Another wall, the virtual graffiti wall, gives guests the chance to express themselves by painting with light. These are just a few of the on-going exhibitions; there are many more of course.

Not every exhibition at THEMUSEUM will remain there long-term. Special events and exhibits move in and out frequently for new and engaging experiences. Past exhibits have included Chagall for Children, Andy Warhol’s Factory, and the Treasures of China Featuring the Dazu Rock Carvings. Exhibits feature fine art, photography, science, culture and history plus modern history in the making.

Local artists can get involved in an annual tradition at THEMUSEUM. The World Refugee Day Art Show gives artists a chance to show their work and highlight a significant cause. THEMUSEUM partners with Immigration Partnership and CCORIC for this important event.

University of Waterloo Art Gallery

To see the work of the next generation of artists, check out the University of Waterloo Art Gallery. The work of students and visiting artists is constantly changing. At any given time you could see sculptural works, paintings, photography or mixed media at a UWAG show.

UpTown Gallery at Waterloo Town Square

If you are an artist yourself, the workspace at the UpTown Gallery at Waterloo Town Square might be of interest to you. This collaborative space sits in the center of the uptown area, right at the intersection of Erb Street and King Street West. Its founding purpose is to promote local artists and bring art to the community.

There is always an artist on the premises during open hours who is available to discuss techniques and methods or perhaps demonstrate their skills. You can even attend one of the gallery’s workshops. Artists working from the UpTown Gallery may choose to express themselves in mosaic, glass, jewelry, photography and fiber art as well as painting and sculpture. These pieces of art can be purchased with prices ranging from gift-worthy to investment-quality.

Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery

The Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery (or KWAG) is one of the premier non-profit public galleries in Ontario. This public treasure is dedicated to the collection, preservation, interpretation, research and exhibition of the visual arts. Inspiring creativity and appreciation for the visual arts is its “business.”

Over 4000 works of art reside in KWAG’s permanent collection. Oftentimes, exhibits draw from this deep well of works. KWAG is invested in educating people about art and connecting the community to artists and their work. It offers a ton of programs for all ages including kids’ classes and camps, adult classes and gallery tours, and a wonderful complement of programs designed to aid educators.

KWAG is also on the cutting edge of technology thanks to a sponsorship from Google in 2012 after which time a virtual Interactive Space was launched. The intent is to connect people and ideas through art in a whole new way. Virtual tours give every person with Internet connectivity access to art and the inspiration it brings. Art lovers with physical limitations or those who are far away can still enjoy the works on display using technology. It is an amazing use of the tools of the day to introduce art directly into homes.

Cambridge Galleries

A gallery crawling trip into nearby Cambridge, the third member of Tri-Cities alongside Kitchener and Waterloo, will undoubtedly lead you to the display space of the Cambridge Galleries. With display rooms in Preston, Queen’s Square and Design at Riverside, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the inspiration of local and national artists.

There’s more to Cambridge Galleries than just enjoying other’s works. You can learn and create here too. Studio courses and lectures are offered as well as concerts and film screenings. As part of the Cambridge Public Library System, it’s a gem for all Tri-City residents.



Waterloo Region may not be an immensely large urban center but we are lacking nothing when it comes to art. Our galleries and museums will be providing inspiration for generations to come.



Living in Kitchener, Ontario: Exceeding Expectations

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

If you’re leaving a large city like Toronto or if you’re relocating form another smaller town, Kitchener is an excellent choice for your new home. It has been a lively town for over 100 years and has history as well as a bright future. Housing is more affordable here, too (bonus!) and the location is wonderful!

Kitchener has convenient access to Highway 401, one of the most important routes in Ontario. Kitchener is also central in the Tri-City area that includes Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge. It sits in the Saint Lawrence Lowlands where the landscape is thick with trees, the soil is rich and the weather is comfortable year-round.

A Brief History of Kitchener’s Settlers

This favorable geographical location was not lost on the early settlers to this region. The land was gifted to the people of the Six Nations by the British government in 1784 as a reward for their allegiance during the American Revolution.   They sold a portion to Colonel Richard Beasley between 1796 and 1798. Beasley’s plots were remote but not undesirable. The German Mennonite people found them quite interesting.

Farming families were seeking a place with good soil where they could farm and freely practice their religion without fear of persecution. They found a haven in the place that would eventually become “Kitchener-Waterloo.” Many relocated from Pennsylvania, USA over the next decade, buying up Beasley’s tracts and settling down. The Schneider family’s home from this era still stands in the heart of Kitchener as a museum and many of the old names still populate this area.

Kitchener’s Downtown Core

The heart of Kitchener has a deep, rich history but that doesn’t mean it’s stodgy or we are stuck in the past. Maintaining a healthy and active downtown core has long been a priority for city leaders and citizens alike. The Kitchener Market is one remarkable addition to the city that came from this dedication to the downtown core.

The Kitchener Market is a modern version of an urban market. It has a transparent ceiling soaring 50 feet above the floor and huge walls of windows. This inviting and creative space is absolutely flooded with natural light. The space can be rented for large events and the Market offers many programs of its own as well. Kids can learn cooking and art and adults enjoy live music, local trade showcases and holiday events.

things to do in Waterloo Ontario

Kitchener’s Market has a wide variety of food vendors

The expansive Kitchener Market houses many vendors offering international cuisine that is truly ethnically diverse. It hosts a Saturday Farmer’s Market where an enormous variety of delicious local produce as well as meat, poultry, fish and dairy products can be purchased from vendors. Residents have been filling their tables with the bounty of this market for over 140 years! Shopping the Kitchener Market is a family tradition and it’s not uncommon for a vendor to serve fourth or fifth generation customers. Whether you’re looking for local honey, Egyptian cuisine, fine chocolate, an artisan cheese or some early kale, the Market is the place to go.

The eclectic Kitchener Market vibe spills out into the eastern end of downtown Kitchener where foodies love to hang out. A cool mix of restaurants attracts residents of all ages. There are also interesting shops here that locals love.

Festivals in Kitchener

Locals also love the variety of festivals to be found in Kitchener. Your calendar could be crowded with new experiences, learning opportunities and fun events without even leaving your new home town! Kitchener hosts an incredible Oktoberfest that lasts for nine whole days!

living in Waterloo Ontario

Kitchener’s Robust Festival Schedule

The festival schedule is thick all year long in Kitchener. There’s also the Kitchener Blues Festival, KW Multicultural Festival, IMPACT Theater Festival, Big Music Fest (this year featuring Rod Stewart!), the Rock and Rumble Motorcycle Show, the Annual Canada Day celebration and many, many more. No one can say this small city lacks fun OR culture! Our festival schedule stands up to any competition.

Kitchener’s Reasonable Housing Market

There’s one thing that Kitchener doesn’t have that big cities do, at least in the housing market – outrageous competition. Buying a home in a large city is a process often plagued with bidding wars that is followed by disappointment. The Kitchener housing market is healthy for both sellers and buyers, but doesn’t carry the high stress levels of buying in a major urban market.

With a smaller pool of people and homes, the market is naturally more stable. Prices are fair and reasonable. The housing options are numerous. Kitchener’s long history has gifted residents with many architectural styles and wonderful neighborhoods.

what are the neighbourhoods in Kitchener like?

There is plenty of greenspace in the Kitchener neighbourhoods

The neighbourhoods in Kitchener are diverse with unique personalities and you’re sure to find one to suit your lifestyle. There are lively downtown homes as well as quiet suburban streets and just about anything you could want in-between. The schools, both private and public, are nearby and of excellent quality all the way from primary to college and university. There are plenty of recreational opportunities in the many local Kitchener parks and with sports organizations.

Life in the smaller city of Kitchener, Ontario is as rich as any urban center. Call us for a tour or better yet, come visit to see just how good life can be away from the noise and crowds of the city. Kitchener is sure to exceed all of your expectations!

Life Satisfaction and Quality of Life in Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge


Where is the best place to live in Waterloo Region?

Life Satisfaction of Residents in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge

Waterloo Region is known internationally for it’s leading-edge technology and advanced manufacturing industries, innovative educational institutions, vibrant agricultural communities, and the historically-significant Grand River. Waterloo region has earned its reputation as a forward-thinking community and as an attractive area to work, live, and play. Yet how do residents in Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge rate their Life Satisfaction and Quality of Life? The results listed in this article are based on data from 340,000 individual responses in the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) and the General Social Survey (GSS)*. This includes specific economic and social factors that contribute to life satisfaction and quality of life. Canada has been measuring Life Satisfaction for more than 30 years and was the first country to measure and collect data on life satisfaction.

Survey Results for Waterloo Region

CCHS and GSS respondents were asked: Using a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 means “Very dissatisfied” and 10 means “Very satisfied,” how do you feel about your life as a whole right now? On average, residents of Waterloo Region participating in these studies rated their life satisfaction at 8 out of 10. Most impressively, 38% percent of Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge respondents reported their life satisfaction as a 9 or 10! Only 15% of these survey participants ranked their life satisfaction as a “6 or less.”

 Contributors to Life Satisfaction and Quality of Life

A report produced by The Region of Waterloo states that at the individual-level there are characteristics that are shown to be correlated with Life Satisfaction. These include age, employment status, and health status. On a community-level, the design of our neighbourhoods and their safety are factors that contribute to Quality of Life.

Community Demographics

With regards to age, the majority of Waterloo Region’s population is fairly young – between the ages of 20 – 59, which means we have a significant number of residents in the workforce. In a two-year Quality of Life study conducted in Cambridge through Wilfrid Laurier University, Master’s student Annette A. Penney found that community residents reported that the number one contributor to Quality of Life was “family and friends.” The most recent census indicates that across Waterloo Region there are more married families than non-married families, further enhancing our perceived life satisfaction.

Community Safety and Neighbourhood Design

Although safety is not a variable that was measured in either the CCHS or the GSS, it is a factor that is considered to be a contributor to Quality of Life. Both violent and non-violent crimes have been on a downward trend here and across Canada for a number of years, however, our crime rates are below those of major Canadian communities. According to Statistics Canada, police-reported crime data that has been collected on non-violent crimes show that in the past 10 years the crime rate has been decreasing in Waterloo Region.

The design of neighbourhoods and physical characteristics of communities also contributes to Quality of Life in Waterloo Region. This includes: the location of buildings; road/street/sidewalk conditions; allocation of bike lanes; availability and placement of houses; and accessibility to neighbourhood parks. In Waterloo Region in 2014 the region spent more than $100 million in road construction ensuring that the condition of our streets and sidewalks is kept up-to-date and new roadways and bridges are developed to keep up with the pace of increasing traffic. The Rapid Transit system connecting Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge and the Light Rail Transit system between Kitchener and Waterloo also helps to transport residents between destinations in our region. There are literally hundreds of neighbourhood and public parks for families in Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge.

Employment Status and Income of Residents

In a Quality of Life study in Cambridge, community residents reported that “income” was the second most important contributing factor to their quality of life. We can assert that this would be the same for all residents of Waterloo Region. Our median family incomes are higher than in many communities across Ontario.

To summarize, residents of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge report a high level of Life Satisfaction and this region rates moderately high on community characteristics that contribute to improved levels of Quality of Life. Indeed, Waterloo Region IS a great place to live, work, and play! If you plan to move to our area and would like more information on what our cities have to offer, click here for About Kitchener, About Waterloo, and About Cambridge. Also feel free to peruse our category of blog posts about Living in Kitchener-Waterloo.


*Data for this article were taken from the five cycles of the GSS fielded from 2009 to 2013 and the four cycles of the CCHS fielded from 2009 to 2012 inclusive.

Oktoberfest Adds to Community Spirit

Did You Enjoy Oktoberfest This Year?

There are many things that make the Kitchener-Waterloo area the perfect place to live, but few things compare to the excitement of Oktoberfest. A celebration of a Bavarian tradition that has been around since 1969 here, thousands spend two weeks every October enjoying the sights, sounds, and tastes of this fantastic event. It’s one of the largest Oktoberfest celebrations in the entire nation, and that means that it’s even a tourism draw for what is already an amazing community. It is estimated that this year’s event drew $22 million into the local economy as well as 70,000 visitors. If you didn’t have a chance to visit this year, make sure you go ahead and add it to your calendar for the upcoming one.

Making the Most of Oktoberfest

Wondering how to make the most of an Oktoberfest that is this big? These tips can help:

  • Make A Plan! If you’ve never had a chance to visit Oktoberfest in this area, the single first thing you should do is make a plan. After all, there’s so much to see and do, it can be easy to run out of time. With 16 famous Festhallen and 40 family and cultural events, a solid plan is important. Be sure to pay attention to the show times, as there are some acts you don’t want to miss. Bring your appetite, too, because here you’ll find food that you just can’t find anywhere else at any other time of the year.
  • Grab a Map! Oktoberfest is fun, but it’s also huge, so you’ll want to decide where to go and what to see ahead of time. You’ll also want to map things out, including parking arrangements. Fortunately, the festival provides free bus rides throughout the festival. Schedule information is not only available on the website for the event, but also at area hotels if you’ll be driving in. If you enjoy a bit too much of the ale and drinks available at the festival, it’s important to note that there are more than 8,000 designated drivers available to ensure you get back home or to your hotel safely.
  • Connect With Those Who Have Been! This Oktoberfest isn’t like others you’ve been too before. It’s an integral part of the community, and as such, you’ll find many people who have been in the past and plan to attend next year. Find them. Through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets and communities (Think TripAdvisor!), you can interact with other people who have been before and can advise you on where to go and what to do first.

The Sights and Sounds

Still not sure why you should try to attend next year? After spending some time there this year, it’s a bit hard to see why you wouldn’t, but here’s an overview of the can’t miss events.

The Barrel Race – Teams of four can register to participate in this relay-style race, pushing a metal barrel up King Street, working hard to get the fast time. There are great prizes, and there’s even a non-competitive wheelbarrow race for kids under the age of 10.

The Thanksgiving Day Parade – Easily the crowning event of the festival, thousands of people stand along the parade route hoping to catch a glimpse of this amazing event. Packed with floats, bands, and lots of special entries, it begins the route toward uptown on King Street early in the morning. It’s even broadcast nationwide.

The 5K Run – Whether you simply want to show festival-goers your amazing speed or you just need to work off a few of those calories from the food trucks you came across at the festival, this is the race you don’t want to miss. It’s the largest one in the region, and it finishes right on the arena floor. As with many events in the festival, there’s even a kids’ component with a 200m fun run on the track!

Rocktoberfest – In 2014 the headliners were the Trews and Walter Ostanek. No matter which band rocks the stage at Altes Muenchen Haus, you’ll want to grab your tickets early, because they sell out fast.

The full Oktoberfest event schedule can be found here: and the official Facebook page has almost-hourly updates!

A Kitchener-Waterloo Tradition

A unique Oktoberfest is just part of what defines this community. 2014 meant one more great festival for the books, but the simple reality is that this event is a symbol of the other great opportunities right here. Home to a number of industries and great jobs, it’s a modern area with a historic touch that’s perfect for singles and families alike. Waterloo Regions has a lot of  access to parks, great schools, and cultural activities. Easy to access by car or rail, it’s an incredible place to settle down.

With a real estate market that’s bursting with great properties, there’s never been a better time to shop for a great place to live right here near the biggest, best Oktoberfest of them all!

If you would like to learn more about Kitchener and Waterloo, check out the About Kitchener and About Waterloo areas of our website.