Meeting my Waterloo (Street)

This afternoon I went to the dentist, or rather, to the dental hygienist.  She was really very kind to me.  She gave me some floss and a new toothbrush, and after I paid my bill, and collected my things I began my trip home.  On the days I walk, I generally meander down King Street, which takes me through uptown Waterloo, and then across the twin city border, after which I mosey through downtown Kitchener, down Ottawa Street and then home.


But today I took a different route, since my normal path would have meant a significant amount of back-tracking.  So, instead, I walked against the one way traffic on Bridgeport, turned right on Moore Ave. N and then took a left onto Waterloo St, which winds through an interesting part of Kitchener that I usually only see from the car.  (These days, when I drive, I take Waterloo because the more popular Weber that I would normally take to work is under construction.  In fact, I have become rather fond of Waterloo, and have started taking it as a matter of course, but only on the way to work.  I tend to take a more convoluted route home. )


It was interesting, indeed satisfying, to walk down Waterloo.  You see a street differently when you walk what you normally drive.  The difference is doubled when walking in a contrary fashion.  Waterloo is a mostly straight street connecting, in earlier days, the not yet twin cities.  The street is now flanked by houses from the early twentieth century, brick in the main that are more often yellow than red.  Every now and then you see a house hinting at the German provenance of its builder – the odd flourish reminding me of Black Forest sensibilities.  The ethnicity of the area changes with the times, and the one house that I have taken note of while driving boasts an Italian flag above its grape vine arbor.  In the summer the home vaunts a lovely canopy of green, but in this in-between time, when the earth is hardly clothed, the yard looks vulnerable.  Walking, I noticed a dog-run on the side of the house that came right up to the street.  I wondered it this canine sideline successfully keeps raccoons at bay in the fall.


Not far from the yard-come-vineyard is a new home being built, full of sharp angles and strangely placed windows.  I must say I was rather taken by it, taken in by it until the walk along Waterloo dropped me off just shy of the Kaufmann lofts: a once beehive of factory activity making the famous Kaufmann boots.  We would buy these out West, not imagining that one day the factory floor of this profitable business would host halls leading to domestic spaces.  I crossed the Kaufmann parking lot and made my way onto Duke, where I saw down town Kitchener in various states of gentrification, modernization, and obfuscation: a city finding itself.


South of downtown I slipped past Kitchener’s Farmers Market, being guarded in its off hours by the Korean Presbyterian Church and the Kitchener Waterloo Racket Club.  Krug carried me to Weber, and I split off at Sterling, which left me at the edge of Sheppard School, where my children attended so many years ago.  I wistfully traversed the playground, a little sad that those days are behind, but proud of my three darling daughters that have never looked back.


From there, the way walked me home just as I used to walk my children home, and a kind of peace settled into my feet, my soul.

13 thoughts on “Meeting my Waterloo (Street)

  1. dianerivers says:

    I feel like I just took a very pleasant, meandering walk with you and got to see an area I have never visited. How charming!

  2. Greg P. says:

    I like walking to work as well, though I have a much shorter walk than your Allen, by the sounds of it. As the weather has warmed up I’ve started biking again and realized how much I miss the walk. So, I plan to start walking again, and taking in my neighbourhood one step at a time.

    • agjorgenson says:

      My walk home is about 6.5 km and takes over an hour. It takes me about 15-20 minutes to clear my head, and then the rest is really rather refreshing. I think it a very good use of time. Glad to hear of your plans! Enjoy!!

  3. shoreacres says:

    Waterloo is such an evocative word for me. My maternal grandfather lived in Waterloo, Iowa, and I often walked with him across the famous Melan arch bridge there. Of course there are all of the historical references grounded in the battle, including the great song by Abba, and, I see, your town’s name.

    Nothing so historical about Waterloo, Iowa. It was originally known as Prairie Crossing, but the post office demanded a new name, and someone came across Waterloo just flipping through a list of names.

    It’s really nice that you can walk hither and yon so easily. I’ve lived in cities where that was the practice, and enjoyed it myself. Now, it’s a different world for me, and I have to enjoy your foot-journeys.

    • agjorgenson says:

      Well, I am glad you can enjoy them with me. Speaking of names, the other city of the twins that goes by the name of Kitchener (after the British Lord), was originally called Berlin. The city fathers decided to make the change during the First World War. At that time, there was a pastor in the Lutheran church I attend (St. Matthew’s) by the name of Tappert, whose son edited the Book of Concord translation that was my mainstay in seminary. He conducted services in German, during which he was heckled by soldiers, or wanna-be soldiers. On the night before the last confirmation he was to conduct before leaving town (really being driven from town), he was forcibly taken from his home by these rowdies, and beaten up before being freed from their clutches by the local constabulary. These names, then, are evocative for me too, but differently so!

      • shoreacres says:

        That would be Theodore G., I presume. My goodness, what a small world!

        You know, there’s an ELCA congregation in Houston that still holds services in German from time to time. They held one during Holy Week. It’s really well-attended, not so much because of a high percentage of Germans in the congregation, but because it’s a magnet for those who do speak German. They also host the Bach society. Being on the edge of the Texas Medical Center and Rice University means there are a lot of international folks who visit and worship.

        Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could stop beating one another up?

  4. Leah says:

    Thanks Allen. I remember at camp one year, when you said our bodies are meant to move, walk, run, be in nature. And I haven’t forgotten that. I enjoy your blogs. A bit of peace in my busy life.
    xo Leah

  5. jannatwrites says:

    I love the history (and memories) tied into your walk. I have to admit that I never walked to appointments or anything in Phoenix. Everything was so sprawling (dentist was thirty-five miles away), much of the year it was too warm, and I just didn’t feel safe (crazy drivers and crime.) Thanks for sharing your walk so I can experience it vicariously through you 🙂

    • agjorgenson says:

      Oh my, 35 miles would be a long walk! I grew up on a farm and so was used to driving everywhere. It was when I moved to Toronto 17 years ago that I began to walk in earnest. I now try to walk as much as possible. Glad you could share in it vicariously!

  6. I could picture a good part of this walk, Allen, from the time I strolled some of it last fall. You’re inspiring me perhaps to write something similar about the walk through Montreal and Pointe-St-Charles home to Verdun.

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