On the traces of Germany in Toronto and surroundings

Did you know...

... that Kitchener hosts the second-largest Octoberfest in the world?

German settlers were the first to settle in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. The oldest house in Kitchener was built by a German. At the end of the 18th Century, the city of Kitchener was still named Berlin. Since 1967, Kitchener is where the second-largest Octoberfest takes place every year. William Berczy, one of the founders of the city of York (now Toronto) was born in Bavaria. The Dominion Centre and numerous other important buildings in Toronto let you discover some German traces.

Traces in Toronto

Walter Trier Gallery © Goethe-Institut Montreal

German Traces in Toronto
The Walter Trier Gallery

The Art Gallery of Ontario, with its collection of more than 80,000 works, is one of the largest art museums in North America, and on the first floor is the Walter Trier Gallery. Walter Trier was born in 1890 to German-Jewish parents in Prague, which was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Gibraltar Point Lighthouse © Courtesy of Toronto Public Library

German Traces in Toronto
Gibraltar Point Lighthouse

Just offshore from downtown Toronto is a chain of small islands known as the Toronto Islands. Originally a peninsula that was cut off from the mainland by a storm in the mid-1800s, the islands are a popular destination for both tourists and residents. 

Berczy Park © Goethe-Institut Montreal

German Traces in Toronto
Berczy Park

Wedged between two converging streets and tucked away behind the Gooderham Building, Toronto’s famous flatiron building, is the small, almost triangular Berczy Park. This little neighbourhood green space is named after William Berczy, one of the founders of Toronto.

The Toronto Dominion Centre © Goethe-Institut Montreal

German Traces in Toronto
The Toronto Dominion Centre

In Toronto’s downtown banking district is a group of six office towers and a pavilion, together characterized by their straight lines and dark steel, which make up the Toronto Dominion Centre. The designer of these influential structures, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, was born in Aachen in western Germany in 1886.

Adam Beck Memorial © Goethe-Institut Montreal

German Traces in Toronto
Sir Adam Beck Sculpture

The Adam Beck Memorial in downtown Toronto commemorates Sir Adam Beck, the founder of the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario. Beck was born in Baden, Ontario in 1857 to German immigrant parents. 

Toronto Eaton Centre © Goethe-Institut Montreal

German Traces in Toronto
Toronto Eaton Centre

Covering several city blocks right in the heart of downtown Toronto, the Eaton Centre is one of Toronto’s busiest tourist attractions. It is the second biggest mall in Canada. The Eaton Centre was designed by the German-Canadian architect Eberhard Zeidler.

Traces in Kitchener-Waterloo

The Joseph Schneider Haus on Queen Street © Goethe-Institut Montreal

German Traces in Kitchener-Waterloo
The “Schneider Haus”

Right next to Victoria Park in downtown Kitchener is one of the city’s top museums, the “Schneider Haus”. Also called the “Joseph Schneider Haus”, this homestead dates from 1816 and is the oldest surviving building in Kitchener. 

Victoria Park Peace Monument © Goethe-Institut Montreal

German Traces in Kitchener-Waterloo
Victoria Park Peace Monument

From its founding, Kitchener-Waterloo has had ties to Germany. In fact, the city now called Kitchener used to be called Berlin. The city of Berlin had purchased a bust of the German Kaiser Wilhelm I in 1897 as part of a memorial celebrating peace in Europe.

The Kitchener City Hall © Goethe-Institut Montreal

German Traces in Kitchener-Waterloo
The Kitchener City Hall

Every year, Kitchener-Waterloo puts on a nine-day "Oktoberfest" celebration. The Kitchener-Waterloo festival sees over 700,000 visitors annually and is the second-biggest Oktoberfest in the world, after the one in Munich, the original home of the fall festival. Every year, the opening ceremonies for the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest take place in front of Kitchener City Hall.