Kitchener and Waterloo were pioneered by Mennonites from Pennsylvania, Cambridge by British, principally Scots, in the early 19th century. Once named Berlin, Kitchener was re-named in 1916, during World War I, after British military hero Lord Kitchener. Since the 1950's when Waterloo attained city status, Kitchener and Waterloo have been known as the "Twin Cities", "K-W", or "Kitchener-Waterloo". Increasingly, Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge (a 1970s merger of the older City of Galt with the neighbouring Towns of Preston and Hespeler, and the village of Blair) are being referred to collectively as the "Tri-Cities".
Immigration, beginning with Germans and Central Europeans in the 19th century and continuing to the present from Central and South America, the Near East, Far East and Asia have created a broad-based multi-cultural population. Kitchener and Waterloo, in 'North Waterloo' exhibit a strong German heritage, celebrated most notably in their 9-day Oktoberfest,  the largest outside of Munich. Cambridge, in 'South Waterloo', has a sizeable Portuguese population, from the Azores, and a large constituency of Newfoundlanders, relocated from Belle Isle, Newfoundland, in the 1960s.
Highway 401 runs along Kitchener's southern border. Kitchener is located one hour west of Toronto, one hour east of London, three hours east of Windsor/Detroit. If coming from Toronto, take exit 278A (Highway 8). At the Highway 7 and King Street exit, exit King Street to downtown Kitchener. If coming from London, take exit 278 (King Street), then take Highway 8 east to the King Street exit as above.
Waterloo Region International Airport  is served by WestJet  with one flight a day to Calgary, Bearskin Airlines  with three flights each business day and weekends to Ottawa and Montreal and Sunwing Airlines  with one flight per week to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, during the winter months. Most air travel to Kitchener comes through Toronto Pearson International Airport  in the north-west corner of Toronto. Ground transportation between Kitchener and Pearson is operated by Airways Transit  who operate door-to-door services as well as scheduled minibus services from several large hotels in Kitchener, Airways Transit services are, however, prohibitively expensive, to the point that a taxi is significantly cheaper for two or more people. Another, much cheaper option for people travelling alone is to take the Greyhound coach to downtown Toronto and then take the Pacific Western  airport coach to the airport, however this can take significantly longer depending on traffic.
VIA Rail  runs between Kitchener and Toronto, Guelph, London, and Sarnia; the train station is located at 126 Weber St. W, near the corner of Victoria St. in the northeast corner of downtown. Via runs three trains a day in each direction.
Greyhound  runs regular commuter coaches between downtown Kitchener and Toronto, stopping on the site of the former Sportsworld amusement park on the border of Kitchener and Cambridge, some coaches to Toronto also run to the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. Greyhound also runs coaches to London and Guelph. Coach Canada runs regular coaches from Kitchener to Hamilton and Niagara Falls. The bus terminal in Kitchener is in the centre of downtown, one block from city hall, on Charles Street, between Ontario and Gaukel Streets, however the main terminal for Greyhound is a temporary inflatable structure on the Sportsworld Drive site, tickets can be bought at that location or outside on the platforms of the downtown site, parcels can only be picked up or deposited at Sportsworld.
By car, with a local map: where other cities are laid out more or less on a grid Kitchener streets are not, rather follow their own complex patterns with frequent twists and turns, many continuing into adjoining Waterloo.
Likewise, street directions are designated E, W, N, and S, but only one major cross street, Lancaster Street East/West, is true to the compass (running, oddly enough, straight north/south). King, Weber and Westmount are the principal EW streets in Kitchener (at Union Street, they become King, Weber and Westmount in Waterloo, where they are designated N/S). Queen, Frederick, Ottawa and Victoria, are the principal NS cross-streets.
There is a an express route, known locally as the Conestoga Parkway, but not signed as such, which loops traffic on Highways 7&8 traffic through Kitchener South and Highway 85 traffic through Waterloo North.
Addresses number EW from Queen, NS from King.
The centre of the city, known as downtown, is divided into four neighborhoods:
Warehouse District at the north end of downtown, full of disused factories, many of which are now being converted into loft condominiums or offices.
Downtown Core, the centre of downtown, contains city hall and a large number of other sights, as well as many office buildings, shops and restaurants.
Civic Centre, contains many public buildings, including the public library, the police station and the Centre in the Square concert hall.
East End, contains many small shops and inexpensive restaurants as well as the Kitchener Market.
All public transit within the Region of Waterloo is provided by Grand River Transit .
Kitchener as a whole has a decent public transit system, although most centrally located sights can be reached without much difficulty. The route 7 bus is the city's main line and comes every 7 - 10 minutes. The 7 can be taken from almost anywhere on King St. south of the intersection of King and University Ave. in Waterloo. Something that can be confusing is that there are three different 7 routes, the 7c, 7d, 7e; they all run the same route until the intersection of King and University, the 7c runs to Conestoga Mall at the north end of Waterloo, the 7d travels to the University of Waterloo through the most direct route, along University and the 7e runs to the University of Waterloo along Columbia, on the north end of the campus. To the south, all 7s run to Fairview Park Mall, no matter the letter.
There is also a limited-stop Express service between Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge known as the 200 iXpress and comes every 10 minutes (on weekdays), 15 minutes (in the summer on weekdays). It runs a similar route to that of the 7, beginning at Conestoga Mall and stopping at the University of Waterloo, Uptown Waterloo, Downtown Kitchener, Fairview Park Mall, Cambridge Centre Mall and Downtown Galt among other places.
The bus fare is $3.00 (cheaper fares such as tickets are also available)  and allows for travel for up to 90 minutes. If you intend to connect to another route, ask the driver for a transfer when you pay your fare. A detailed map of all routes in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge can be purchased at a variety of locations for $2 or downloaded for free from Grand River Transit . Students of University of Waterloo and/or Wilfrid Laurier University do not need to pay cash fare if they flash their University-issued Student ID (WatCard for University of Waterloo; OneCard for Wilfrid Laurier,) as long as the expiry date on the card has not elapsed. These students have already paid for bus services through non-refundable fees on their fees statement.
Waterloo Pioneer Memorial Tower, 300 Lookout Lane (From King St. E., take Deer Ridge Dr. to Lookout Lane). A tower built in 1925 to commemorate the pioneers who first settled in this area in 1800, the first inland settlement in Upper Canada. A national historic site.edit
Victoria Park. Beautiful park in downtown. The park was designed by the firm of Frederick Law Olmstead, the same firm that designed Central Park in New York City. The park contains a large lake, a magnificent clock tower taken from the old city hall when it was demolished, a statue of Queen Victoria and a small restaurant that plays host to many musical acts among other things. The main entrance to the park, which was recently redesigned, is at the end of Gaukel St., only two blocks from city hall.
Kitchener City Hall, 200 King St. W. An attractive, post-modern building located in the centre of downtown. There is a cafeteria located on the top floor of the tower.
Centre in the Square, 101 Queen St. N, . This is the venue where the K-W Symphony performs, and is also where Broadway touring companies perform. Located in the Civic Centre neighborhood of downtown, beside the Kitchener Library. The hall was built to be large enough to perform Wagnerian opera, and seats approximately 2000 in a lovely setting with a very nice acoustic.
Registry Theatre, 122 Frederick St., 519-745-6565, . A small theatre providing inexpensive performances by small theatre groups. Located in the Civic Centre next to the police station and behind the library.
Theatre & Company, 36 King St. W., 519-571-0928, . A medium sized theatre located in the centre of downtown. It is next to the Waterloo Region Children's Museum and across the street from the Walper Terrace Hotel. The theatre complex itself, called the King Street Theatre, often is the venue for other events than just Theatre & Company's events.
Children's Museum/THEMUSEUM, 10 King St. W., 519-749-9387, . An extremely fun museum for children of all ages, also plays host to child related events. Located in the centre of downtown, across the street from the Walper Terrace Hotel and next to Theatre & Company.
Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, 101 Queen Street North Kitchener, Ontario N2H 6P7, ☎ 519-579-5860, . The gallery premiers and exhibits contemporary art of Canadian and international artists.edit
Waterloo Region Museum, 10 Huron Rd., 519-748-1914, . Ontario's largest community museum, showcasing 12,000 years of history in Waterloo Region. Also hosts traveling exhibits, events and activities. Gateway to Doon Heritage Village - see Historic Sites.
Woodside National Park, Spring Valley Drive, off Wellington Street North, 519-571-5684, . The boyhood home of William Lyon MacKenzie King, Canada's longest serving prime minister. Limited hours as of 2013.
Joseph Schneider Haus, Queen Street South, 519-742-7752, . Built by pioneer founder Joseph Schneider, restored as a Mennonite farm home of the 1850s. Adults: $2.25, Seniors/Students: $1.50, Children: $1.25, Family: $5.
Doon Heritage Village, 10 Huron Road at Homer Watson Boulevard, 519-748-1914, . A collection of homes and buildings removed from elsewhere in Waterloo Region, restored and reconstructed as a 1914 era village.
Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest, . Bavarian festival held annually in October; is the largest in the world outside of Munich, Germany.
Walter Bean Trail, . A trail for hiking and bicycling that, when complete, will run along the Grand River through Kitchener, as well as Waterloo and part of Cambridge.edit
Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema, 137 Ontario Street North (The Gig Theatre), . The one and only film festival for animated feature films from around the world. Takes place in mid-November.edit
Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, East Ave., . The home of the Kitchener Rangers, an OHL (major junior hockey) team, "The Aud" often hosts other special events.edit
open ears festival of music & sound, Downtown Kitchener, ☎ 1-888-363-3591, . A diverse, week-long, multi-venue music festival that has something for everyone. International musicians converge to treat festival goers to all manner of fascinating sounds and sights. From grand scale orchestral performances at the Centre in the Square to sound installations to intimate late-night experimental performances, the festival provides entertaining and interesting fare for the open-minded music lover. Festival passes, individual performance tickets and free shows are available.$0-$220. edit
Fairview Park Mall, 2960 Kingsway Dr., . The largest shopping centre in the region. It is in the southern part of Kitchener and is a 10-20 minute bus ride from downtown. To get to the mall by bus from downtown take either any route 7 or iXpress bus headed south.
Kitchener Market, . Farmer's market held on Wednesday and Saturday mornings in a new building at the south end of downtown, about a 10 minute walk from City Hall and the bus station. There is also a food court made up of multi-cultural restaurants which is open every weekday. One local radio station, CJDV ("Dave FM") has a studio in the market, though they more often broadcast from their studio in Cambridge.
Belmont Village, Belmont Ave. (between Glasgow and Union Sts.). This three-block section of Belmont Street is lined with storefronts, giving it a small-town feel. Here you will find a few antique stores, a few flower shops, and several niche stores, as well as other businesses. Bus 8 (via Westmount) runs from the bus station downtown to the University of Waterloo, running through Belmont Village.edit
The Catacombs (King & Ontario Cross Streets), 37 King St. West (beside Peter Martin's 20King and TD Bank), . The largest music memorabilia shop in the region. Thousands of t-shirts, sweatshirts and even baby clothes from just about any rock, metal or punk band you can think of.edit
ABC Military Surplus (King & Queen Cross Streets), 54 Queen Street South (beside Encore Records). Independent army surplus shop to purchase new or used army gear; camouflage pants, boots and supplies.edit
Rum Runner Pub, 1 King Street West, Kitchener (Lower Level of the Walper Terrace Hotel), ☎ 519=745-4321, . M-F 11AM - close, Sa 12PM to close, Sundays 4PM to 10:30PM. Great downtown pub with a casual menu featuring homemade hamburgers, steaks and a great assortment of entrees. Home to Yuk Yuk's Comedy Club. LLBO$12. edit
Three Kretans, 151 Frederick St. KWs Premier Authentic Greek restaurant. Est. 1995.  Steps from the Centre in the Square and Registry Theatres. 519-576-9091
Verses fine dining, 182 Victoria Street North, 519-744-0144, . A "Metropolitan" dining experience in this former church. Attention to detail in the food and service.
Taste of the Philly Cheesesteak, 98 King Street West (Quick walk right down King St), ☎ (519) 743-4400, . Sandwich shop with burgers and wraps, made fresh in front of you.Giant burgers from $5.99. edit
Terrace Cafe, 1 King St West (Bus 7 to Queen Street), ☎ (519) 745-4321, . Mon-Fri 7.30-14; Sat-Sun 8-14. This the Walper Terrace's hotel restaurant and is only open for breakfast and lunch.Entrees around $10. edit
Matter of Taste, 119 King St West, ☎ (519) 579-7059, . Great place for specialty coffee, lattes, and desserts. Relaxed atmosphere, a good place to meet up with and enjoy a conversation.edit
Botanica, 105 King Street East (Bus 7 to Frederick Street), . Breakfast: M-F 6.30-11, Sa-Su 7-11; Lunch: M-Su 11-14; Dinner: M-Su 17-22. This is the Delta Hotel's restaurant.edit
Peter Martin's 20 King, 41 King St. W., ☎ 745-8939 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: 519.745.4155), . Lunch: 11:30-2 M-F, Dinner: 5:30-9 M-Th, 5:30-10 F-Sa. Despite the name, it's not across the street; it used to be there. Pleasant fine dining, if a little predictable. Excellent bread. Good selection of wines.Price: around $50-70/person with wine. edit
Classicos Mediteranean Bistro, Portuguese Cuisine, 30 Ontario St S, 741-8257, . Classicos Mediterranean Bistro and Wine Bar provides an intimate atmosphere for those looking to enjoy a relaxed dinner.
Ye's Sushi, 103 King St. W, (519) 568-7566. The biggest chained restaurant in the region with all-you-can-eat sushi, Ye's has a large selection of sushis and other oriental cuisine. All-you-can-eat is $12.99 at lunch and $19.99 at dinner. The restaurant is on King St in the heart of downtown between Gaukel and Ontario Sts. A second location is located at the NorthWest intersection of King St & Northfield, and is a short walk North of Conestoga Mall.
Ellison's Bistro, 14 Charles St. W, 519.744.2075, . Soul Food with Caribbean, European and Urban Finesse.
Boa Nova Rodizio Grill House, Portuguese Cuisine with a Brazilian Twist, 6 Charles Street West, 519-745-1321, .
Korean BBQ Restaurant, Korean Cuisine, 265 King St. East, 519-568-7111. Located in the Hong Kong Plaza. Affordable prices and a home-cooked feel to this small restaurant.
Cameron Chinese Seafood Restaurant, 21 Cameron Street South (at Charles), 519-576-1163 . Many 'foodies' agree that Cameron has the best Dim Sum this side of the greater Toronto area.
City Cafe Bakery, 175 West Ave., 519-570-3558. Not a full restaurant (and just at the edge of downtown) but a hip, funky place to have lunch. They have really tasty thin crust pizza.
Pho Dau Bo, Vietnamese Cuisine, 301 King Street East 519-568-8904. Possibly the best Vietnamese restaurant downtown. Try the rare beef pho.
A-M Africa Restaurant, Ethiopian Cuisine, 1472 King Street East, 519-576-0313, . Tasty and unique food.
Two Goblets, Romanian Cuisine with some Hungarian, Polish and German dishes, 85 Weber Street West, 519-749-1829, . Try the Budapest schnitzel for a real treat.
Delta Hotel, 105 King St East (Bus 7 to Frederick Street), ☎ 519-744-4141, . This is downtown Kitchener's only major chain hotel and has a heated indoor pool.edit
The Frederick Street Inn, 230 Frederick St., . Just steps from the city's core, business section, and theatre. This century home was once the home of Aaron Bricker, mayor of Berlin (1905–1906) and has been renovated to reflect its original charm with modern convenience. This bed and breakfast has three rooms. edit
Walper Terrace Hotel, 1 King St. W., . Located right in the middle of downtown Kitchener on a site that has been the site of a hotel since 1820, this historic hotel dates back to 1893. Its guests have included Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bob Hope, and Louis Armstrong. All of the hotel's 79 luxury rooms were renovated in 2002 and feature modern amenities such as wireless high speed Internet.edit
Kitchener is one of three cities in Waterloo Region. Visit Waterloo to the north or Cambridge to the south. It is also a great base for exploring the surrounding countryside, the towns of New Hamburg, St. Jacobs and Elora are all within easy driving distance.
While Kitchener boasts a lower crime rate than it's neighboring cities, it still holds the highest rate of hate crimes than anywhere else in Canada. You may want to exercise caution when walking in the cities downtown core during the night. Although still relatively safe, during the weekends especially, you may run into a group of rowdy patrons plus numerous muggings and swarming's are known to concentrate in and around the downtown area.
Greenfield Avenue on the cities east side and the surrounding areas also experience a significantly higher level of crime and according to statistics, has the highest concentration of criminal gangs such as the Shower posse,Aryan Brotherhood and many Spanish gangs than anywhere else in Ontario except for Toronto's notorious Jane and Finch. You should deter from walking there at night because homicide,rape,extortion and roadblocks are frequent.If confronted and asked where you are from say "Just down the road" And that will show them that you are not to be bothered. There is an ongoing turf war between multiple gangs on Kitchener's east end so dangerous to the point that the police seldom respond to crimes in that area. Gang members there are heavily armed with military grade weapons i.e(M-16,AK-47,TEC-9,Frag Grenades,Sawed off shotgun's and MP-5). Many citizens have reported seeing the word "Gully and Duppy" spray painted around the area,the tags have been washed off. As of January 23 2014 A man was shot and killed in what seemed to be a gang shootout. There was an arson on the night of January 22 2014 at a nursing home on Franklin street north and a bomb threat was followed after that. Since then there has been 27 murders on Greenfield Avenue. Because of the constant polar vortexes there is really nobody outside in that area the murders have been occurring inside the public housing units. The murder rate for that area is expected to go up by 200% this summer.
Victoria Street also has a strip of motels that are often used for drug trafficking and prostitution. Be wary if choosing to stay at one of the motels along the strip although do not let it affect your stay. Unless you're involved directly in those activities, you're in no immediate danger.
Homelessness is becoming a big problem for the city. During the day time, many homeless people shelter themselves within the downtown core. While some of them may ask you for change, a simple 'No' will suffice and they will generally leave you alone although during the night, they tend to become a little more aggressive and demanding.
In some areas Kitchener has a major Gang problem. Gangs in Kitchener are very elusive and unless you are involved in those activities you will likely not see one. Police seldom respond to gang related crimes. Gangs in Kitchener are very dangerous and to be avoided. The most dangerous neighborhoods with gangs in Kitchener are Greenfield Avenue and the surrounding area, Chandler drive, Courtland avenue & Frederick street. These neighborhoods are not to be traveled on at night.
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