i drive to waterloo

It was so great to see my friend D! I say it all the time, but here I go again: thank goddess for the internet. Every friend I have up here, I originally met online. And some, like many of you folks, I have only met online. Our immigration and re-settling experience would have been so different - so much more difficult, and so much lonelier - without the internet.

Yesterday's drive to Kitchener-Waterloo was longer than I anticipated, so I just poked around Kitchener a bit. There's a nice little downtown, decked out for the holidays, and a big farmer's market.

Was (is?) the area an enclave of German immigrants? I saw several German-themed stores and a big German-language bookstore. That made me think of the propaganda (and violence) that hurt German-Americans in the US during both World Wars. You've heard of Freedom Fries - did you know there was once Liberty Cabbage? It's usually known as sauerkraut... I was wondering if Canadians of German descent experienced the same thing. I'd be surprised if they didn't.

I didn't go to the Clay and Glass Museum, but I will. I'm thinking of saving it for a Mom visit - my mother adores glasswork. M@ mentioned St Jacobs: my mom also loves quilts, and craftwork of all kinds, and I love pottery. So I think my mom and I will check that out on her next visit, in the spring.

I have to keep this post short and uneventful, as I'm not feeling so hot. (Hmm, will this be the day I use the health care system for the first time?) I'll just catch up on the long discussion going on in comments here, although it sounds out of my league.


Wrye said...

I was wondering if Canadians of German descent experienced the same thing. I'd be surprised if they didn't.

Indeed, they did. The original name of Kitchener-Waterloo was "Berlin", changed in WW1.

Scott M. said...

It's hard to get a doctor... if you wait until you need one, you may have a problem. And you most certainly don't want to go to a hospital for a cold.

Familiarize yourself with your local walk-in clinics and urgent care clinics. Until you get your doctor, they'll be your best friend.

Seriously though, don't go to emergency unless it's an emergency. You'll wait hours and hours and get the same level of treatment that you'd get from your local walk-in or urgent care. You should expect about an hour's wait at a walk-in clinic.


laura k said...

Indeed, they did. The original name of Kitchener-Waterloo was "Berlin", changed in WW1.


Thanks Wrye!

Scott M: I would never go to an emergency room for a non-emergency. It would never occur to me to do so.

There are at least a dozen walk-in clinics near me, and I will certainly use one if I need a doctor.

I know it's hard to find a family doctor in this area. I plan on trying, but I'm aware of the difficulties. (It's come up plenty in this blog!)

hemlock said...

"The original name of Kitchener-Waterloo was "Berlin",

Dang it. I was gonna say that!!

I grew up in Guelph (only 20 minute or so east of KW)

Glad to hear your trip was good!

laura k said...

Dang it. I was gonna say that!!

Ya gotta get up pretty early to beat the wmtc crew! (And Wrye's on the west coast!!)

I grew up in Guelph (only 20 minute or so east of KW)

I know the name Guelph well - we were referred to the veterinary college for speciality care for Buster. Now we won't be going. :<(

But I noticed it on my drive yesterday.

James Redekop said...

The K-W area is one of the centres of Mennonite settlement in North America, as well. The conductor of the K-W Philharmonic Chorus, Howard Dyck, grew up with my father in another Mennonite area, southern Manitoba.

Lotsa Mennonites down around St. Catherines also. SW Ontario, Southern Manitoba, and Mexico are the main Mennonite areas in NA that I know of.

M@ said...

There used to be a bust of the Kaiser in Kitchener's Victoria Park (a very nice park downtown). When WWI started, the locals threw it in the lake. It was only recovered in the 90s, if I remember correctly.

Glad you enjoyed your trip! Kitchener does have an interesting downtown -- there are three good used bookstores, which is pretty good for a city of this size.

Btw, if you're in town again, a fun dining option is any of the numerous German clubs. Some of them have been around since the mid-1800s, and the food tends to be fairly inexpensive, extremely honest, and served with that kind of pretentious old-world attitude -- extremely friendly and completely without the polish and smarminess that is the trend these days. I suspect they're more German than Germans at these places but it's a great way to spend an evening.

Marnie said...

But avoid Oktoberfest (second-largest in the world!) unless your only goal is to consume beer, yell silly songs, and be around a lot of obnoxious, drunken, university students. I used to hate taking transit on those Oktoberfest nights. Shudder.

Hope you feel better soon!

Anonymous said...

SW Ontario was home to a large settlement of Mennonites, who were orginally from the Alsace region (along the borders of Germany, France and Switzerland - though the people's heritage was mainly German).

Following the 16th century split within the Lutheran church which led the the creation of the Mennonites and the Anabaptist movement (opposition to baby baptism), Mennonites began migrating en masse to Europe and Russia in the mid-1700s to 1800s, and to North America in the mid-1800s to 1900s.

Those from the Russian migration tended to head west; the Swiss/German group settled mainly in Ontario. St. Jacobs (Jakobstettel, actually), Kitchener (which was named for Berlin), and many of the surrounding towns are to this day inhabited by a citizenry which is of predominantly Swiss-German, and of course Mennonite, heritage (myself included).

Here's a bit of a bio, from Mennonite.net:

The first Mennonites came mainly from Swiss and German roots, with many of the important martyrs of the early church coming from the area around Zurich. To escape persecution, many Mennonites fled western Europe for the more accommodating religious climate of the Americas or Catherine the Great's Russia, giving these two groups distinctly different cultura l heritages. When the Russian Mennonites were eventually forced out of Russia in the last half of the 19th Century and the early 20th Century, many migrated to the western states and provinces, where today there is a large Mennonite population. Many people in the older generation of this group continue to speak a low german dialect called "Plautdietsch" and eat traditional foods. Swiss German Mennonites migrated to North America in the 18th and 19th centuries, settling first in Pennsylvania, then eventually across the Midwestern states. They too brought with them their own traditions, including hearty foods and the German language. Today large Mennonite populations can be found in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Kansas, although Mennonites live in all parts of the United States and the world.

The Amish, who separated from the Mennonites in the late 1600's, are widely known for their plain dress and rejection of modern technology and conveniences. Unlike the Mennonites, they form an exclusive and tight-knit community, with the church dictating much of what may or may not be done: for example, each local church district would dictate rules regarding the use of telephones, if indeed they are permitted at all. While certain conservative branches of the Mennonite church still dress simply and require women to wear head coverings, Mennonites generally are not culturally separatist, choosing to embrace the larger communities outside of their church rather than forming a separate community around the church. Where the Amish believe in keeping themselves spiritually focused by limiting their interaction with modern society, Mennonites believe in practicing Jesus' teaching of service to others in a broader context.

laura k said...

Thanks for the info, everyone! Very interesting. I love local history, always have.

And thanks for the glimpse into your heritage, G. :)

Unknown said...

Ah,good old KW. I went to the University of Waterloo '88 to '92. It was great when my Mum would come and visit on the weekend and we could go to St. Jacob's. I wish I had more time to go up there when I'm home for the holidays. Somewhat random but in addition to the German culture it was also a great place for Jamaican food (at least in the early 90's). Of course, it's no Port Credit :-). You wouldn't believe how long it could take to get to Toronto on public transportation from Waterloo.

andrea said...

Wow. The responses on this blog are worth the read alone (though the blog is good, too!). Just came back from visiting my husband's Mennonite grandmother -- 95 years old and holding, she fled Russia during the revolution and spent four years as a refugee before landing in Canada. A fascinating people.

barefoot hiker said...

Well, Kitchener's name was Berlin. Waterloo's was, and is, Waterloo. Those two cities get lumped together, but it's a Minneapolis-St. Paul thing. They're two different cities with two different mayors and there are folks who are quick to remind you of it. :)

Kitchener was kind of kind of led/kind of decided on its own to change its name. In WWI, products stamped "Made in Berlin" enjoyed a limited popularity in the rest of Canada and our export markets in the Empire, as you might imagine. In the end, the city was renamed in honour of Lord Kitchener... the man who created the concentration camp during the Boer War... just after his death at sea in 1916.

Waterloo was founded by Pennsylvanians early in the 1800s and named in honour of the battle.

Here's something you need to know about Kitchener-Waterloo. :)

laura k said...

The responses on this blog are worth the read alone

Wmtc commenters make this blog.

laura k said...

Here's something you need to know about Kitchener-Waterloo. :)

Marnie beat you to it. See above. :)