A walk though the heritage of Kitchener’s Central Frederick neighbourhood

This is a do it yourself self-guided version of a Jane’s Walk I lead with Warren Stauch on May 3, 2014.

Length: Approximately 2 1/2 hours

Start at the Frederick Mall in front of the hardware store/ formerly the beer store

Frederick Street Plaza/ Frederick Mall

On August 24, 1955 – a $2 million shopping centre, known as Frederick Street Plaza, opened at the corner of Frederick and Edna Streets featuring Loblaws, Tamblyns, Bata, Fairweather, Reitmans, Woolworth, Laura Secord and Franks Hardware.

The “Kitchener Plaza” opens as the city’s first self-contained shopping centre (shopping & parking combined off the street). When enclosed approximately 1980 (?), the Brewers’ Retail outlet (now known as the Beer Store) lost its outside access. The original plan was to move the beer store to the outer side of the mall but that never happened. The beer store with access only inside the mall remained an anomoly for many years even after it was replaced by a new open format store on Victoria Street. Central Frederick resident Henry Roth sold his neighbours beer  for many years as the store’s manager.

It has been known as the Frederick Mall since the addition. Over the last 5 -10 years, it has gained many medical offices including family physicians.

In April 2014, the cinema got new owners and a fresh look.

The mall itself is currently receiving a makeover and being renamed the “Frederick Village Shoppes.”

Walk through the Mall to Frederick Street and then south along Frederick Street stopping in front of the A.R. Goudie Eventide Home, formerly the House of Industry and Refuge.

County of Waterloo: House of Industry and Refuge  

Now the site of the A.R. Goudie Eventide Home

Dates: 1869-1947

Function: The Waterloo County House of Industry and Refuge provided room and board to inmates (poor, homeless children, unwed mothers) in exchange for work.

Credit: Kitchener 100

The County of Waterloo, like all other counties in Ontario, was required to build and operate a house of industry and refuge under section 413 of the Ontario Municipal Act.

In 1868, 141 acres was purchased on Frederick Street in Berlin (now Kitchener) and the house opened on June 15, 1869.

The original building housed 100 and operated as an industrial farm, which raised crops and livestock. The residents worked for their keep and expenses were $1.34 per person a week.

The practicality of a self-sufficient farm in the growing town of Brlin/Kitchener became increasingly problematic. Three other farms were purchased to replace the lost farmland from the Frederick Street location, including the Shuh and Weber farms. The Frederick Street facility looked after the chronically ill, while the destitute worked and lived on the farms.

By 1945, the need for houses of refuge had become outdated and in 1947, the Homes for the Aged Act made it mandatory for all municipalities to operate homes for the aged. Thus, the Waterloo County House of Industry and Refuge became the Waterloo County Home for the Aged. The building was expanded over the course of its existence until a new building was built on Franklin Street as Sunnyside Home.

In 1870, William Jaffray, a local newspaper editor, said of the people living in the Waterloo House of Industry and Refuge, “a singular gathering of the halt, the imbecile and the blind, the wise and the unwise, the decayed and the decaying of the poverty-stricken of the county, most of them passing quietly to the grave without a thought..”

William Jaffray spoke of it as “a Potter’s Field with a fence around the nameless graves.” In the field was a little red brick house of two rooms, called a pest-house {located at Indiana Street), which was used as an isolation hospital.


Levi Carroll, black, labourer, born 1804 or 1805 in Maryland, died 1897, had a wooden leg, lived in the log house, the first school house

Was married four times, had six children

Now the site of the A.R. Goudie Home

The A.R. Goudie Home was built behind the House of Refuge which was then demolished. Until about 2012, A.R. Goudie was owned and operated by the Salvation Army.

New residential area planned for Kitchener’s East Ward

September  24, 1955 – A 700 acre Kitchener development seems likely. A $250,000 property deal, which may lead to one of Kitchener’s biggest suburban residential developments, will be considered by four municipal councils of Waterloo County next week. The project deal involves an offer to buy the present Home for the Aged building on Frederick St. plus about 300 acres of farmland.

This would have included the land between East Avenue, the Auditorium and where the Expressway now is including Dumfries and Melrose Streets.

Credit: Kitchener 100

Stories behind street names

Frederick Street named after Frederick Millar, who conducted a pioneer general store just behind the old post office building or to honour Frederick Gaukel, a local hotelier, who donated land for county buildings in 1851.

The FV on store at Filbert & Frederick stands for Fischer Variety.

Lydia Street named after Lydia Brubacher, a member of a family owning a farm in the East Ward.

Simeon Street named after Simeon Brubacher, a member of a family owning the farm in the East Ward.

Anna Kaljas Homes

Corner of Frederick & Simeon Streets

First of 5 houses bought in 1952, held up to 60 boarders

Anna Kaljas, born in Estonia, was a teacher and a nursing aid during WWII. After spending five years in a German Refugee Camp in Augsberg, she came to Canada, eventually arriving in Kitchener where she completed her training as a Registered Nursing Aid (RNA) and spent the next nine and a half years at the K-W Hospital.

In the 1950s she bought a house on Frederick Street to help refugees who had nowhere to stay. The refugees were followed by teenage law breakers who had been sent to correctional institutions.

The opening of group homes for teenagers allowed Anna, at first, to help ex-convicts. The opening of halfway houses, in the early 1970s allowed her to offer help to patients from some mental institutions.

In the mid 1970s she expanded her facilities to include two adjacent houses.

In May 1980, the Anna Kaljas Award was established for her more than twenty years of unselfish service as “mother hen” to these adult orphans, ex-psychiatric patients, alcoholics, addicts and other seemingly hopeless people.

In June 1983, Kaljas was enrolled in the Order of Canada and was inducted into the Waterloo County Hall of Fame.

Turn east on Simeon Street and walk to 51 Simeon Street

Edna Staebler home

51 Simeon

Edna Staebler, CM (January 15, 1906 – September 12, 2006) was a Canadian author and award-winning literary journalist, best known for her series of cookbooks, Food That Really Schmecks, based on Mennonite home cooking as practiced in the Waterloo Region.

She was born in Berlin, Ontario (later Kitchener) in 1906 and grew up there. Staebler received a BA from the University of Toronto and a teacher’s certificate from the Ontario College of Education. Staebler married in 1933 but divorced in 1962. She wrote articles for Maclean’s, Chatelaine, Saturday Night, Reader’s Digest, Star Weekly and other newspapers and magazines; she has also written non-fiction with Canadian themes. In 1991, she established an award for creative non-fiction, awarded annually by Wilfrid Laurier University. Staebler was awarded membership to the Order of Canada in 1996.

She died of a stroke in Waterloo, Ontario, in 2006 at the age of 100.

Edna’s birth certificate shows she was originally named Cora Margaret Cress but her name was changed after registration by letter to Edna Louise Cress. She was the daughter of John Gerp Cress (7 Apr 1875 – 23 Oct 1932), a machinist, and Louise Sattler (24 Jan 1881 – 8 March 1972) who were married 15 Jul 1903.

Turn south and walk along Chapel Street to Samuel Street. Turn east on Samuel Street.

Samuel Street named after Samuel Brubacher, a member of a family owning the farm in the East Ward.


Cober Printing

85 and 87 Samuel Street

Cober Print was founded in 1916 by Vernon L. Cober, who printed business cards, letterheads and flyers for his own grocery store. It was located in his home at 85 Samuel Street until 1942. By the time his son, Lloyd, took over the business in 1945, it occupied the entire first floor of the house. Three floors were being used by 1952 and four years later an addition was built. In 1969 a walkway was put between 85 and 87 Samuel Street, where the office was relocated along with the typesetting and bindery departments.

Vernon retired from the business in 1975 and ten years later the firm relocated to Courtland Avenue East with a staff of 6. Lloyd remained active in the business until 1994. Peter Cober and his sister Billie-Anne Gural are the third generation of Cobers to run the company with a fourth generation of family members now in principle roles.

In June of 2000, Cober Printing once again packed up and moved to a 47,000 sq. ft. facility at 965 Wilson Ave. Modern equipment, computer graphics, skilled trades people, and quality printing have been our commitment to our customers. In March of 2010, we experienced exponential growth and another move was required. By September 2010, we had moved into a facility with 86,000 sq.ft. in the Huron Business Park area. This is where we currently reside at 1351 Strasburg Road.

Source: http://www.cobersolutions.com/au_history.php

Walk along Hohner Avenue to Lancaster Street. Turn north west on Lancaster Street and walk to Bethany Evangelical Church.

Bethany Evangelical Missionary Church, 1908

160 Lancaster Street East at Chapel Street

The Bethany congregation began services in the 1860s, and formally organized in 1874. The first building was occupied in 1877, with a subsequent building program in 1908.

Moses Weber is considered the founding leader of the group. The congregation originated through division from the Mennonite Conference of Ontario over language and revivalism. The congregation was originally known as Lancaster Street Mennonite. This was the first Mennonite Brethren in Christ church in the area.

Now the home of the Bethany Missionary Church, there is a nativity pageant with a huge cast and live animals that draws thousands every year.

Cross Lancaster Street and enter the school yard

Suddaby School, 1857

Credit: Kitchener 100

Suddaby Public School, originally known as Central School, is a publicelementary school in Kitchener, Ontario (formerly known as Berlin). It is located at 171 Frederick Street, in the city’s downtown. It serves grades Junior Kindergarten (JK) through grade 6.

The school building opened in January 1857, and its first principal was Alex Young. Initially, the school building also accommodated the Berlin Grammar School (later the Berlin High School, now Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate and Vocational School) in the second-floor room in the northeast corner of the building. In 1871, due to the growth in population of Berlin and due to school attendance having been made mandatory in Ontario, the school became quite crowded and the high school relocated elsewhere. Attendance continued to increase, and classes had to be held in Berlin’s fire hall in 1874. In 1876, a four-room addition was built at the back of the school.

Warren Stauch warns hockey players not to be caught on the ice during public skating or the Kitchener School Board will give your stick to the police!
Warren Stauch warns hockey players not to be caught on the ice during public skating or the Kitchener School Board will give your stick to the police!

In 1877, Ontario’s Minister of Education chose the school as a model school for the training of third class teachers. At that time Alex Young stepped down as principal and was replaced by Jeremiah Suddaby. In 1882, the first kindergarten in Ontario, taught by Miss Janet Metcalfe, was opened at the school. In 1886, accommodations again became inadequate. The Berlin Public School Board decided to resolve this problem by opening new schools—Agnes Street School (now King Edward Public School) in 1886, Courtland Avenue Public School in 1890, and Margaret Avenue Public School in 1894. The concept of model schools came to an end in 1908. Suddaby remained principal until his death in 1910, at which point the school was renamed in his honour.

In 1921 plans were made for a large addition to the school. The cornerstone of the new building was laid on June 10, 1922, and the addition was formally opened on September 24, 1923.

The school celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1957. At that time, the school’s original bell was donated to Doon Heritage Crossroads.

On November 17, 1980, the school building was designated as a heritage property by Kitchener’s city council under the provisions of the Ontario Heritage Act. The designation noted the facade, the archway between the main foyer, the archway between the main foyer and the original kindergarten, and the oil painting of Jeremiah Suddaby that was painted in 1912 by A. Y. Jackson, one of the original members of the Group of Seven.

The basement was home to a special-ed program called McQuarrie Enrichment Program. Unfortunately, the McQuarrie Enrichment Program was transferred to Cederbrae Public School and A.R. Kaufman Public School in 2011.

The school’s most famous alumnus is William Lyon Mackenzie King, former Prime Minister of Canada.


Otto Street, directly across from Suddaby, may have been named for merchant Otto Flesichauer.


At the front of Suddaby School, turn north and walk along Frederick Street to Lancaster Street.

Washroom break at Tim Hortons.

Cross Lancaster and Frederick.


Lancaster Street named for Lancaster County, PA, the county from which early Mennonite settlers moved to Upper Canada in the early 1800s.


Five Points

Intersection of Frederick-Lancaster-Ellen

Izma’s grocery store – rented by John Izma, a fruit and vegetable merchant.

Izma Green. OnJune 25, 1994 – Izma Green was dedicated at the corner of Frederick and Lancaster. The small parkette honours the Izma family who ran a grocery /variety store on the site for almost forty years. It became a neighborhood institution. See the plaque beside the bench.

Izma’s Green, Kitchener Housing complex, six subsidized units

Walk north along Frederick Street to Gordon Street.

 Gorden Avenue at Clarence Place.  Named for Gordon Clarence Itter, eldest son of Peter Itter, who bought Ray Nursery Gardens and subdivided them into building lots. Irvin Street was named after his brother.

Continue north on Frederick Street

35 Gordon Avenue

This Italianate residence was constructted c. 1888 by Peter Itter, a local developer and builder, who was also the Warden of the Berlin House of Refuge and Industry from 1881 – 1892. It’s the first house to be constructed by Mr. Itter after he developed the plan of subdivision of this neighbourhood. The intersecting streets of Gordon Avenue and Clarence Place are named after his eldest son Gordon Clarence Itter. He also developed nearby Irvin Street which is named after his second son.

234 Frederick Street

John Forsyth House

Built 1891

Menno Bricker built this house on a lot bought by his wife Lydia in November 1888 from Peter Itter. It cost $1,800 to build.

The house was bought by J.D. Claude Forsyth as a family home in August 1912. He made the “Forsyth Shirt – made in Berlin” a household word in North America. At the time of his death, the company’s headquarters were located on Young Street in Kitchener (now the site of the City Centre condominium development). The business actually began in 1903 as a wholesale distributor of buttons and tailor supplies. It eventually started making shirts and in 1917 took over the Star White Wear building on Young Street. He was a public spirited man involved with a number of organizations.

Forsyth married Georgina Herties. They had five children who were all born in this house. He died in 1948 at 63 years old. In 1990, it was still in the family’s possession with Forsyth’s daughter Jane living in it.

239-241 Frederick Street

circa 1889

Mr. Arthur Pequeqnat and his descendants resided here until 1967 when the home was sold out of the family.

Arthur Pequegnat was the inventor and manufacturer of the Racycle Bicycle and the first pendulum clock make in Canada. He served on the school board as a trustee for 27 years during which time he presided over the construction of Victoria Park Public School.

David R. Cooke, Liberal MPP for Kitchener, owned the home from 1983 – 1986 and used it as his law office.

Walk along Gordon Street to Lancaster. Turn north on Mansion Street 

Pequegnat Street named after Paul Pequegnat, who opened the street and built the first houses. on it.

1 Pequegnat Avenue

This property dates back to an early period of the City of Kitchener’s development and is a good representative example of the work of Messrs. Paul & Arthur Pequegnat. It’s a well preserved example of the Italianate style.

Snyder Furniture Company

Location: Chestnut & Mansion Streets

Now: The Lofts on Mansion,

J.C. Snyder Furniture, company started in 1865, closed 2005

Kaiser Street

Kaiser Street

Mansion Street between Lancaster and Edna Streets was originally known as Kaiser Street. It was renamed after World War I by connecting it to the original Mansion Street which only ran between Ellen and Lancaster Streets towards the Breithaupt Mansion.

The original name has been preserved as a sidewalk imprint as found at Mansion and Chestnut Streets.

Turn east on Dunham and walk to Frederick Street

362 Frederick Street

Known as Eby House 

Built 1837 (according to plaque)

This house is the oldest residential house in Berlin/Kitchener occupied by a single family. Built in 1836, for John and Rebecca Eby, the farm house was occupied by them shortly after their marriage. Rebbecca was the daughter of Samuel Bricker who was famous for getting a loan from friends and relatives in Pennsylvania to pay the mortgage on the Beasley Tract, which is now the lands occupied by Waterloo. He sold all of it in 1869. That’s when the House of Industry and Refuge was built across the street (also know as the “Poor House Farm.”

John’s daughter Magedeline became owner in 1887 and moved from Harriston with her husband Martin Dunham. Dr. Mabel Dunham is their daugher (more below).

Dunham Street

Dunham Street named for the family of B. Mabel Dunham, first professionally trained librarian in Ontario. One of Canada’s most noted authors, B. Mabel Dunham, was always conscious of the value of history and enriched Canadian literature with her books: The Trail of the Conestoga; Toward Sodom; The Trail of the King’s Men; Grand River and Kristli’s Trees.

Dr. Mabel Dunham was born on a farm near Harriston. Her family moved to Berlin when she was six. She was educated at Central (Suddaby) School and Berlin High School, taught in Berlin briefly, and then attended Victoria College, Toronto, and McGill University, Montreal, where she completed a course in Library Science. Dunham was librarian of the Kitchener Public Library from 1908 until her retirement in 1944, the first trained librarian to be in charge of a public library in Ontario. She developed one of the first children’s library departments in Ontario at the Kitchener Library.

She was a member of the Canadian Club and the University Women’s Club, serving as president of both. Dunham was the only woman in the original membership of the Waterloo Historical Society and later served as president.  Mabel has been inducted into the Waterloo Region Hall of Fame.

In her honor, the Little Library built in Brubacher Green by the Central Frederick Neighbourhood Association is known as the Little Mabel’s Library.

Walk north along Frederick Street to Norris Bakery

Weber Park


Edna Street named after Edna Brubacher, member of a family owning a farm in the East Ward.


Norris Bakery

A neighbourhood institution, Norris Bakery turned 70 years old in 2013. It is famous for many specialties including cakes and long johns.



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