City of Waterloo Museum

All rec facilities and the city museum are closed. We will contact you with further information if you were registered for recreation programs or rentals.

Full details are available on our COVID-19 response page.

Our city museum is a heritage portal where visitors connect 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. Regular hours are:

Tuesday to Friday, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Admission is free. 

Current exhibit: Back 2 Basics REBOOT: Timely pieces from the collection

Back to basics reboot imageMuseum staff have looked at our emerging activities and trends throughout the pandemic, and cleverly assembled the historic equivalent from our collection. Each object is timely and historic offering a reboot to redefining the new normal. 
The exhibition runs to June 2021.

Upcoming exhibit: The Many Shapes of Clay: featuring ceramics from the collection

This exhibit will present a selection of over 75 historic ceramic pieces from the collection that illustrate the unique blend of cultural influences, and a 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 opens in June 2021 (date to be determined).

Online exhibit: Waterloo@home

child colouring chalk rainbowParticipate in our online curation, Waterloo@home via Instagram or Facebook.

Download and colour the exclusive City of Waterloo Museum 2021 calendar. Great for all ages and includes a little bit of Waterloo history each month.


Show me the City self-guided walking tours

show me the city poster on a postExplore the history and heritage of Waterloo at your convenience. 24 tour points are featured. Follow the suggested tour route or explore specific tour points. You will need a digital device able to take pictures. Scan the QR code in your camera app and ‘Show me the City” will pop up with more information about the location.

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. Topics include:

  • the history of Waterloo
  • early mayors
  • rebels and mavericks
  • story of the Seagram empire
  • prohibition in Canada
  • tales from the barrel warehouse
  • sports in Waterloo
  • early school days in Waterloo
  • Christmas past in Waterloo

If you have a different 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

International Bee Day - April 29, 2021

Did you know these important pollinators have a special place in Waterloo history? Waterloo’s first village seal was adopted in 1857 and was a beehive buzzing with bees. The beehive symbolized industriousness, as a hive of activity.

Print your own image of our first seal as a colouring page and show us what you think it should look like.

Waterloo’s Rainbow History: A tribute to the Rainbow Trailblazers
Sunday, June 6 at 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.

During Pride Month, join the City of Waterloo Museum for a walking tour on the University of Waterloo campus as we pay tribute to the Rainbow trailblazers of the Gay Liberation Movement and celebrate the Glow Centre's 50th anniversary. 

We will be joined by Jim Parrott, curator of the Grand River Rainbow Historical Project and former Executive Director of SPECTRUM, Waterloo Region's Rainbow Community Space. Jim will help us understand the important history of LGBTQ2+ in Waterloo as we visit key sites on the campus.

For more details and to register, visit waterloo.ca/activewaterloo


COMING SOON!

Registration details to follow.

History on Wheels: Biking Tour
Sunday, June 13 at 2 p.m.
Saturday, June 19 at 6 p.m.

Explore the city on two wheels this summer with the City of Waterloo Museum and Active Transportation. Jump on your bike and let us take you on a 2 hour leisure ride on our trails that will be filled with stories about our local history. Recommended for ages 10 and up. 

These Four Walls: 200 years of the 1820 Log Schoolhouse
Friday, July 9 from 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Friday, August 13 from 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Have you ever wondered what stories the four walls of the legendary Log Schoolhouse in Waterloo Park can tell? Then you will want to join the City of Waterloo Museum and the Municipal Heritage Committee the schoolhouse for a peek inside. Throughout the day, we will delve into the many lives of Ontario’s oldest schoolhouse that has found its forever home in Waterloo Park. Don’t miss this rare chance to step inside and learn about these four walls.

Risky Business - Mount Hope Cemetery Walking Tour
Sunday, July 11 at 3 p.m.
Thursday, July 15 at 7 p.m.
Sunday, August 8 at 3 p.m.
Thursday, August 26 at 7 p.m.

Waterloo was a leader in risky business in the 1860s when insurance companies began popping up all over the city. At one time Waterloo was referred to as the “Hartford of Canada” and home to the headquarters of major insurance companies. Meet up at Mount Hope Cemetery to discover the ‘terms and conditions’ of insurance in Waterloo and the people who built this empire.   

Education 

We offer curriculum-directed programming at the museum for school classes or other community groups, based around our exhibits.

We also have curriculum-based outreach programming available for presentations in schools. Note: presentations are now fully booked for the 2020/2021 school year.

Below is a sample list of the free virtual programs we offer:

JK/SK - A visit to the Museum.

Grade 1 - People and Environment: Local Community.

Grade 2 - Simple Machines.

Grade 3/4 - Structures and Gears.

Grade 3 - Heritage and Identity.

Grade 4/5/6 - Heritage and Identity - Perspectives in History.

*Programs will be booked on a first come, first served basis.

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.