An undergraduate student of English and history might not be the first person to pop into your mind when you hear the word:  entrepreneur.

Lindsay KroesBut Lindsay Kroes, a third-year co-op student in Waterloo’s Faculty of Arts took a recent work term to start her own business and write a local history book called Gather by the Avon.

Kroes’ anthology of short stories was written from interviews she did with Stratford, Ont. seniors. During her work term, she also established the Stratford Story Project  and founded Recollections Publications.

Kroes’ journey to becoming an entrepreneur started with an idea. Kroes was inspired by the beautiful stories seniors shared with her during a prior co-op term at Doon Heritage Village, a living history site in Kitchener.   “I realized the importance of recording and preserving these stories for future generations,” she says. “Not only are they historically rich, but they’re also full of charm and wisdom.”

Kroes was able to start her venture after being accepted into Waterloo’s innovative Enterprise Co-op program.  She also won a $4,000 scholarship from the Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre.  Gather by the Avon is a 250-page book, illustrated with period photographs that can be purchased online.

“Lindsay’s work term is a good example of the versatility that our co-op program offers students,” said Rocco Fondacaro, director of student and faculty relations, Co-operative Education & Career Action at Waterloo. “It also demonstrates how the University of Waterloo’s experiential philosophy fosters the entrepreneurial spirit of our students.”

Memories of D-Day

Kroes interviewed 50 Stratford residents between the ages of 70 and 98. The book is an anthology of stories that include everything from memories of riding a wagon with workers during Stratford’s General Strike of 1933, to gathering milkweed pods for the war effort.  “These are precious historical moments that aren’t captured in history books,” says Kroes.

One of the most moving stories for Kroes was shared by a senior who remembered D-Day in Stratford.  The woman told Kroes how the town was alerted that Allies had begun the invasion to overthrow Nazi Germany in 1944. When the news hit the small city, every church began ringing its bells and factories blew their whistles. Everyone in Stratford gathered for an impromptu church service.

Kroes says surfacing these kinds of recollections is what keeps her inspired and she hopes Gather by the Avon will be the first book of many projects in her evolving business.