Built by German settlers and immigrants, Kitchener-Waterloo is a significant German heritage centre in Canada and is home to the greatest density of German-Canadians in the country. A large body of knowledge about German-Canadian culture and the German-speaking peoples exists here. The idea to found the Waterloo Centre for German Studies goes back many years.
It seemed natural to give an academic focus to the long tradition of German immigration to Waterloo Region. The University of Waterloo was founded in 1957. Already by 1960 the Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies had been formed and began to grow rapidly. It is currently the largest German graduate program in Canada and the third largest at the undergraduate level.
In the late 1990s, in conjunction with a major fundraising campaign, the University of Waterloo decided to establish the Waterloo Centre for German Studies to ensure that the contribution of German-speaking Canadians and scholarship on all aspects of German language and culture, past, present and future, is fostered, studied, preserved and disseminated locally, nationally and internationally.
The Centre was founded officially in June 2004 by an act of the University Senate. It works closely with the Departments of Germanic and Slavic Studies and History, and other departments that share its interests, as well as with the special collections branch of the Dana Porter Library, which houses a sizable repository of historical German heritage documents and scholarship on German literature, language, and culture.