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Visiting the First Schoolhouse, 1820 at Waterloo, Ontario: Remembering Settlement Founder Abraham Erb

Updated on July 31, 2018
Provincial flag of Ontario
Provincial flag of Ontario | Source
Waterloo's first Schoolhouse, 1820, in Waterloo Park
Waterloo's first Schoolhouse, 1820, in Waterloo Park | Source
Historical plaque re. Abraham Erb (1772-1830), Waterloo Park
Historical plaque re. Abraham Erb (1772-1830), Waterloo Park | Source
Map location of Waterloo, Ontario
Map location of Waterloo, Ontario | Source

Pioneer days evoked

The original settlement at Waterloo, Ontario was founded in the early 19th century; its main founder is remembered as Abraham Erb (1772-1830). Erb, from Pennsylvania, was of German Mennonite extraction (1) and in he bought 900 acres of what was then the bush at what is now the city of Waterloo, arriving in 1806.

Erb was responsible for erecting mills in the district in 1806 and 1816 respectively. These economic centres were significant engines of local development.

Remarkably, one of Abraham Erb's mills was still functioning at the time of World War One.

In Waterloo Park, a wooden schoolhouse may be seen, having been the first in 1820 in the settlement which Abraham Erb founded. This Schoolhouse was moved to Waterloo Park in 1894. In previous years, it had also served as a residence as well as for its prime educational purpose.

In 1961, the building acquired a new roof. In 1973, the structure was dismantled and then reassembled.

The image of the old Schoolhouse have frequently featured on local artifacts such as chinaware and souvenirs.

Close to the Schoolhouse in Waterloo Park, an historical plaque, sponsored by the Ontario Archeological and Historic Sites Board (2) describes the achievements of Waterloo's founded.

Erb is also remembered by a street named for him in the city.

July 3, 2012


(1) Today, Waterloo and its region are very well known for their proportion of residents with Mennonite heritage.

(2) Under the Ontario Heritage Act , it is now known as the Ontario Heritage Trust.

Also worth seeing

In nearby Kitchener — which forms a conurbation with Waterloo — Woodside National Historic Site of Canada is the former boyhood home of long-serving Prime Minister of Canada William Lyon Mackenzie King.

West Montrose (distance: 17.6 kilometres) has an historic covered bridge.


How to get there: Air Canada, flies to Toronto Pearson Airport, with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available. (Distance from Toronto Pearson to Waterloo : 91.9 kilometres.) WestJet and Bearskin Airlines fly to Region of Waterloo International Airport, from where car rental is available, from Calgary and Ottawa respectively. Access by road to Waterloo Park is via entrances at Westmount Road North, Young Street, Central Street or Seagram Drive. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.


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