Corner of King and Queen streets in Berlin, 1863

Special Collections & Archives (SCA) holds a variety of resources related to the local and urban history of Kitchener-Waterloo.

Many of SCA’s family and institutional holdings include the archives of local businesses and organizations such as Dare Foods Limited, the Dominion Rubber Company, Electrohome, Fritsch Pharmacy, the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, and the Rotary Club of Kitchener. In addition, the department maintains family papers related to the Breithaupt, Bolender Ball, Ratz, and Schantz families, among others.

The department is also home to the Kitchener-Waterloo Photographic Negative Collection, which documents local news events, community activities, regional development, and human-interest stories between 1938-2001.

Archival holdings

The Archives Database is where you can search the descriptive records for fonds and collections held by the department. You can browse records by Thematic Area, which includes a list of Local History holdings. You can also do a keyword search by using the search box at the top right of the page and making use of the various navigation filters provided as part of the results listing page. The Getting Started page provides more information about using the Archives Database.

Rare books

You can also identify rare books, serials, periodicals, and maps held by the department by using the Library’s catalogue. After conducting a keyword search you can filter to Dana Porter Library – Special Collections & Archives under the Waterloo Library location options.

Screenshot of Dana Porter Library - Special Collections & Archives location filter selected in catalogue

Waterloo Digital Library

The Waterloo Digital Library (WDL) is the website SCA uses to share a selection of records that have been digitized and made, for the most part, keyword searchable.

The site is split up into two sections, one dedicated to holdings in Special Collections & Archives and one dedicated to holdings in the University of Waterloo Archives. Records pertaining to the local history of the Region of Waterloo appear throughout. You can browse the site by clicking into the various collections or by doing a keyword search in the search box at the top right of every page.

Local history collections with records available to browse on the WDL include:

Print material

Elizabeth and Gerald T. Bloomfield texts

A number of titles by historians Elizabeth Bloomfield and Gerald T. Bloomfield have been digitized and made available via the Internet Archive. Comprising indexes, bibliographies, biographical overviews, and historical maps, the titles are exhaustive and invaluable resources for anyone interested in the early economic and social development of both the Region of Waterloo and Ontario as a whole. Of particular note to regional history enthusiasts is Waterloo County to 1972: An annotated bibliography of regional history.


Among the most useful tools for the local historian are business and city directories.

The Library's collection currently includes a number of nineteenth and early twentieth century directories for the Waterloo region. To find directories in the library catalogue, search for the following subject headings:

Some of our directories are too fragile to use, and we have digitized these for researchers:

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Additional local history resources

The Region of Waterloo is fortunate to have a variety of cultural organization working to collect, maintain and make accessible records related to local history.   

Records pertaining to the history of the region can also be found on websites dedicated to provincial cultural heritage holdings.

Finally, certain campus units have made historical documents relevant to the University of Waterloo available online. They include: