Who is Laurel Creek

Image of Laurel Creek showing water and trees
A tributary of Ó:se (The Grand River) Ó:se is the traditional, indigenous place name of Grand River

History of the Laurel Creek

325 years of contributing to the rich and varied heritage of the City of Waterloo. The distinct history of Laurel Creek is not only important to understand the environmental consequences of industrialization but also enriches our understanding of the indigenous history of the
Haldimand Proclamation grants to the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), which is the 10km of land on either side of the Grand River, from its source to Lake Erie, of which the Laurel Creek is an important tributary.

To see a timeline poster of the history of Laurel Creek developed by Engage Waterloo Region, click the button below.

Historical photo of a bridge over Laurel Creek

Image source: The Record

Six Nations of the Grand River

Six miles deep on each side of the Grand River, called the Haldimand Tract, was promised to the Six Nations of the Grand River. The Haldimand Tract includes the Laurel Creek tributary. However, much of their land has been lost due to breaches in the Crown’s Fiduciary Obligation (Six Nations of the Grand River, 2022). Our ability to use Laurel Creek is a direct benefit of expulsion policies against Indigenous peoples and recognizing this history is only a small step towards reconciliation. The Six Nations website goes into more detail about the land rights.

A map of Ontario highlighting the Haldimand Tract.

Image source: Six Nations of the Grand River

Enable JavaScript to view map.

University of Waterloo and Laurel Creek

Laurel Creek passes through the campus of University of Waterloo and adds significantly to the natural beauty of the campus. Students, on several occasions, have attempted research studies on the waters of the creek, on one of which, this website is based.

Students of the ARTS 490 Seminar course, which explores the waters of the world pertaining to issues of equitable distribution, justice and water rights, have also conducted water sampling activity on the creek. Visit the Water Sampling page for more detail on the findings.

Industrialization on Laurel Creek

Development in the early 1900s of the City of Waterloo was primarily due to industrialization which was heavily powered by the water drawn from the creek. Eventually, local and upstream changes brought forth sediment issues. Pollution of the creek continued due to water runoff, waste and salt deposition, until 1976 when the Laurel Creek restoration policy was proposed.

Headlines of historical Waterloo newspaper highlighting flooding

Image source: Engage Waterloo Region

Troublesome times for the Laurel Creek

Major flood events in the early 1900s and again in 1950 cause significant impacts to the Town and residents rang the alarms for infrastructure improvements that could prevent further flooding.

Learn more about the Laurel Creek Watershed on our Case Study page.

What Can We Do?

The most important step as residents of the City of Waterloo and Kitchener-Waterloo region is to acknowledge how integral the region’s water resources are, to our lives. The Laurel Creek to the campus of University of Waterloo and consequently, the Grand River to the KW region are natural resources of insurmountable significance and should be treated none the less. We must pool in scientific research as well as years of indigenous knowledge to better inform conservation efforts and save the liquid of life for the future generations.

Image of Laurel Creek showing water and trees

Image source : https://www.discoverbrantford.ca

Thousands Have Lived Without Love, Not One Without Water.


Contact Us: