Historic Waterloo

Discover the history of Waterloo through its built and natural heritage.

Central Block building in Uptown Waterloo with a date stone of 1881

Referencing Waterloo’s Indigenous roots but focusing on the City’s over 200 years of European settler history, this walk strolls through its beginnings as a Mennonite mill site in a swamp to its current status as “one of North America’s premier tech hubs.”

Tours can focus on specific eras, e.g. 1920s-1930s, or summarize Waterloo’s entire history. Special attention is paid to buildings erected during each phase of Waterloo’s development (and still standing!) 

Choose a 90-minute overview of Waterloo’s history and architecture or select a 60-75-minute tour focused on a specific era. 

Tour 1 starts with the founding of Waterloo by Abraham Erb and the arrival of German immigrants in the 1820s. 

Tour 2 introduces Waterloo’s first developer John Hoffman and early industrialization. 

Tour 3 looks at the industrial boom of the 1880s, 1890s and 1900s and the sophistication of the Victorian era.

Tour 4 focuses on Waterloo in the 1920s and 1930s, the end of locally owned companies.

Tour 5 discusses modern Waterloo, its birth as a City in 1948, its rebirth as an urban shopping centre in 1960, and its continuing evolution.

Each tour will focus on listed heritage buildings constructed in the time period of the tour. So many great options! 

Led By: Kae Elgie and Phil Elsworthy

Accessibility: Great accessibility. Route follows city sidewalks. Buildings are also accessible, with one exception, which can be substituted

Historic Waterloo Walking Tour Details

Of course, we have the obligatory Liability Waiver and Release form that must be signed by each person in advance of joining the walk.  Why a waiver for a walking tour, you ask? Couldn’t get insurance without it. Stroll pays insurance… you sign the waiver. 

A sense of curiosity, a few questions and a willingness to learn something you didn’t know before.

Of course, dress for the weather; bring a hat, water bottle, umbrella, solid walking shoes (no flip flops!) and anything else you need to be comfortable on the walk. 

We walk rain or shine or snow! 

However, we do heed storm watches and warnings and would never put you in danger. Stroll may cancel and reschedule a walk due to an issued weather advisory. 

We don’t make scheduled bathroom breaks along the walking route. Please attend to personal needs before or after the walking tour. 

Twice a year Stroll hosts a series of public walking tours in the spring and fall. Make sure you are on the Stroll newsletter list so you know when they are available! 

Absolutely! The walking tour guides have chosen routes with the best possible accessibility in order to accommodate as many people as possible. However, construction happens and we do our best to re-route safely.

If you have any questions about the accessibility of a specific walk, please contact us in advance of booking. 

We’ll say it again… Always arrive 10-15 minutes ahead of time! If you arrive exactly at departure time, you’re already late! If you arrive really late, your walking tour will likely be shorter than you planned for. 

Public Tours: We start on time so you might miss the introduction. If you’re really late, you might miss the tour if we’ve already moved on. 

We know you’re a curious bunch so we’ve been preparing blog posts with additional resources from many of the walking tours. Happy reading!

I've always thought it was important for a city to have walking tours, and was so pleased to hear about Stroll. I went on my first tour with them, and amazingly they exceeded my high hopes for a local walking tour. I'm excited to go on more tours with Stroll, and recommend it to every person living in town.
Andrew A.