Kitchener-Waterloo (Ontario, Canada)

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Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, twin cities with a 2005 population of 209,000 and 110,800 respectively (35,657 and 9,025 in 1955) is the center of the largest community of Mennonites in Ontario. The first Mennonites came to Waterloo County from eastern Pennsylvania in 1800 and soon occupied a large part of the virgin land of the county, particularly in Waterloo and Woolwich townships. In 1824 an Amish community was established in the western part of the county, Wilmot Township. In 1872-1875 a schism occurred in the Mennonite community which resulted in the establishment of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ conference in Ontario (later known as the United Missionary Church, and still laster as the Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada ), a large congregation (Bethany) being established in the city of Kitchener, and several smaller ones in county towns. In 1889-1890 a conservative schism occurred in which much of the Woolwich district withdrew to form the Old Order Mennonite group. In 1925 the large Stirling Avenue group withdrew from the First Mennonite congregation, and later joined the General Conference Mennonite Church. The immigration from Russia in 1922-1925 (supplements of 1930-1931 and 1947-1950) led to the formation of strong General Conference and Mennonite Brethren congregations. Thus the Kitchener-Waterloo community by 1955 represented a variegated pattern of Mennonitism.

In 1955 the city of Kitchener proper included the following congregations: First Mennonite (Mennonite Church) 1807, 579 members; Stirling Avenue (General Conference Mennonite) 1925, 445; Mennonite Brethren 1925, 375; Bethany (United Missionary Conference) 1877, 323; Evangel United Mennonite Church (United Mennonite Conference) 1949, 45. In Waterloo were located Waterloo Mennonite (Mennonite Church) 1854, 281; Waterloo-Kitchener (General Conference Mennonite Church) 1925, 390. The total membership of the seven churches in the twin cities in1955 was 2,439. In addition there were 15 other Mennonite Church congregations in the county with 1,894 members, a large Old Order Mennonite community with 1,730 members in 14 meeting places, and three other United Mennonite Church congregations with 297 members; and one of the Amish Mennonite churches could be included in the Kitchener-Waterloo area with 521 members. The total of 6,881 baptized members, of whom probably 2,300 lived in the twin cities, constituted one of the largest compact urban-rural Mennonite communities in North America.

In Kitchener were located in 1955 two Bible schools: the Ontario Mennonite Bible School and Bible Institute (Mennonite Church) and Emmanuel Bible College (United Missionary Church), the Golden Rule Book Store (Mennonite Church), a branch of the Mennonite Publishing House of Scottdale, and Rockway Mennonite School, a Mennonite Church high school.

The Mennonite population has made a major contribution to the Kitchener-Waterloo community over the years. In 1955 not many industries had been established by Mennonites, the largest possibly being the Hallman Organ Co. manufacturing electric organs. Earlier Jacob Y. Shantz (1828-1909) (Mennonite Brethren in Christ) had been a leading industrialist and city builder. The excellent agricultural production in the rural area of the county was largely due to the Mennonites.


Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 501 f.

Author(s) Harold S Bender
Date Published 1957

Cite This Article

MLA style

Bender, Harold S. "Kitchener-Waterloo (Ontario, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 21 May 2024.,_Canada)&oldid=170425.

APA style

Bender, Harold S. (1957). Kitchener-Waterloo (Ontario, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 May 2024, from,_Canada)&oldid=170425.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 186. All rights reserved.

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