City of Waterloo Museum

Following provincial COVID restrictions, the museum will be closed from January 5 onward.

Our city museum connects visitors with Waterloo's past, building shared experiences and enhancing culture. Connect with the museum on Facebook or Instagram, or by calling 519-885-8828.

City of Waterloo Museum logoLocation, hours and admission

We're located at 550 King Street North, beside the food court at Conestoga Mall. 

The museum is currently closed per provincial COVID restrictions.

Current exhibit: The Many Shapes of Clay

clay vesselsThis exhibit presents a selection of over 75 historic ceramic pieces from the collection that illustrate the unique blend of cultural influences and diverse array of styles from around the world. Examples of ordinary wares produced by early village potters will be showcased together with distinctive pieces created by early ceramic artists. The exhibition runs to February 2022. 


Show Me The City - Stories of Waterloo Park

waterloo park picnic Friends of Waterloo Park, together with the City of Waterloo and the City of Waterloo Museum, invite you to participate in a virtual tour of Waterloo Park. There are 24 stops on the tour. Read fun and interesting historical stories of different areas and features of the park.

 

Outreach, special events and education

If you would like to bring a group into the museum, or have us come to you, we have a number of options as described below.

For more information, contact 519-885-8828 or jennifer.huber@waterloo.ca.

Guest speaking 

Museum staff are available as guest speakers.

We have a series of illustrated presentations that include 'show and tell' with complementary artifacts from our collection. Titles include:

  • Welcome to the City of Waterloo Museum
  • Stories of Early Settler, Mayors, Mavericks and Rebels
  • Prohibition in Waterloo: What Happened in Waterloo
  • School Days in Waterloo
  • Game on! Sporting in Waterloo
  • If You Don’t Work, You Won’t Eat! Early Food Preservation in Waterloo
  • Tales from the Barrel Warehouse: The Story of the Seagram’s Empire
  • The Birth of Waterloo’s Suburban Neighbourhoods
  • The Sublime Mr. Seagram: Waterloo’s Innovator
  • Trails, Rails and Trucks: A Brief History of Transportation
  • Waterloo Park: Over 100 years of Memories
  • Wish you were Here! Picture Postcards of Waterloo 
  • A Look at Christmas Past in Waterloo


We also do presentations on location. Walking tour topics include:

  • Dealers in Death
  • J.E Seagram and Company
  • Mayors, Mover and Shakers
  • More Than Wives and Daughters
  • School Spirit
  • The Ultimate Sacrifice, War Stories from Mount Hope 

If you have a suggested topic, we can also do custom presentations. Our contact info is at the top of this page. We charge $50/one hour presentation.

Special events

Join the City of Waterloo Museum and the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery for a two-part series of pottery workshops inspired by exhibits! During each of these three-hour classes, we will make a piece of pottery while exploring collections and exhibits across both sites. Workshops will end with learning decorating techniques to make your piece the perfect match for your style. Sign up for one, or both! Classes are in-person at the Gallery.


image of two pottery jugsJug workshop: February 10, 6-9 p.m., $55
Make a decorative clay jug inspired by John Jacobi’s pottery in ‘The Many Shapes of Clay’ exhibit at the City of Waterloo Museum. During this beginner's clay workshop, you will learn how to roll out a slab of clay, shape it into a small jug, and decorated it with underglaze. We will be joined by Jennifer Huber from the City of Waterloo Museum who will share stories about the history of local pottery.
Register

three stacked pottery mugsMug workshop: February 14, 6-9 p.m., $55
Make a mug inspired by Walter Ostrom's pottery in 'The Good Earth: Pots and Passion of Walter Ostrom' exhibit at the Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery. During this beginner's clay workshop, you will learn how to roll out a slab of clay and shape it into a mug. Decorate it with underglaze paint or ceramic decals.
Register


Waterloo’s Rainbow History: 50 Years of Glow - virtual tour

Join the City of Waterloo Museum in celebrating Pride Month. View a virtual tour of the University of Waterloo campus as we pay tribute to the origins of the Glow Centre in celebration if its 50th anniversary. From it's 1970 origins as Waterloo Universities' Gay Liberation Movement (WUGLM), through today in its incarnation as the Glow Centre, this important institution is the longest lived student-led 2SLGBTQ+ group on a Canadian university campus.

Jim Parrott, curator of the Grand River Rainbow Historical Project and former Executive Director of SPECTRUM, Waterloo Region's Rainbow Community Space helps us understand the important history of 2SLGBTQ2+ in Waterloo as we visit key sites on the campus.

You can also follow along with the route map (pdf). If you require these documents in an alternate format or have questions about this project, contact the museum at 519-885-8828, TTY (for deaf) 1-866-786-3941 or museum@waterloo.ca

Education 

Special event - The Many Shapes of Clay free virtual visits

Join museum staff for a 1-hour program to learn about the current exhibition, The Many Shapes of Clay.

We will talk about uses for clay as a one of the oldest known common materials and explore its use around the world and in Waterloo. Then we will actively spend time making our own coil pot. Students will need access to some type of modelling material, such as playdough, salt dough, or plasticine, and a popsicle stick, chopstick or pencil to decorate their pieces.

Dates: February 8 or February 10
Primary session: 10:00 a.m.
Junior Session: 12:00 p.m.

Teachers will join the secure Zoom meeting in webinar format and share the program to their students either live in the classroom or via Google classroom. Register your class. 

Email museum@waterloo.ca for any questions.


The City of Waterloo Museum is pleased to offer many options for school programs.

Book an in-class visit for your students where our staff will come to your classroom and share a curriculum based education program. Two hour in-class programs are $130 per class. 

You may also book a virtual visit where we can join your class through the computer from the Museum. Teachers will need a projector and speakers if students are learning in person. One hour virtual programs are $50 per class.


Note: maximum one class per presentation, however, multiple presentations per school are possible.

Presentations are booked on a first come, first served basis.

Please check back often as we add more school programs for all grades. 


Junior/Senior Kindergarten
Curious Collectors: Behind the Scenes at the Museum
Literacy and Mathematics: Problem Solving and Innovating

This interactive program is a great way to introduce young learners to museums. Children will be able to connect with roles museums play in our community as collectors and sorters while using their literacy and math skills.

Grade 1
I Spy: Waterloo Now and Then
People and Environmentel: Local Community

Join us for a look at the City of Waterloo 100+ years ago. Learners will compare and contrast basic community elements using photos and items from the past. They will connect these items to their own personal experiences in our present day community.

Grade 10
Blind Pigs and Dry Agents: Prohibition in Waterloo
Prohibition was experienced all over the country, but join us to take a closer look at how it impacted Waterloo. Waterloo was known for its whisky and beer production at a time when these industries were frowned upon. Find out how that impacted the local economy, people and morals.

Grade 10
The Roaring 20s and Ailing 30s
This program will take a look at Canadian society between the First World War and Second World War. Join us to explore international, national, and these local perspectives of life during the roaring 20s, the trying times of the 30s, and the ramp up to war of the 40s.

Collection

Our mandate is to preserve, protect and exhibit our collection of over 10,000 artifacts. It's guided by the Museum Strategy, completed in 2015.

The collection includes the signature Seagram collection related to early manufacturing and the service of distilled spirits. Original prints, paintings, photographs, craft, manufacturing artifacts, books, and pamphlets tell the story of Waterloo's fascinating past.

Donations

Our collection is continually being enhanced through additions from the community. If you are interested in sharing a piece of your Waterloo history, contact museum@waterloo.ca or call 519-885-8828.

All objects proposed for acquisition will be assessed based on the following criteria:

  1. Condition: the physical condition of artifacts will be considered as well as the extent to which conservation or restoration treatment is required and any costs associated with said treatments. Objects in poor condition will not be accepted unless they are rare or of particular significance to the collections.
  2. Relevance: Artifacts will be assessed based on how well they ‘fit’ with the museum’s collections both in terms of how well they support the museum’s mission, and how they compare to other artifacts in the collections. Objects will only be acquired if they meet the requirements of the City of Waterloo Museum’s collections mandate.
  3. Documentation: Consideration will also be given to the provenance of an object, as well as any contextual information or other known details regarding the fabrication and function of the object, as this information is critical to collections management.

If we're unable to accept your donation, we will attempt to refer you to another museum or archive that may be interested in acquiring your object.