1601 Elizabethan Poor Law Enacted

The 1601 Elizabethan Poor Laws builds on various acts in the 1500s that set policies to collect poor... Read More →

Haldimand Treaty Signed

In October 1784, Sir Frederick Haldimand signs a decree granting a tract of land to the Six Nations... Read More →

English Civil Law

Once the British gained power of Canada over the French, Canada divided the central province into Upper and Lower Canada, Lower Canada still being apart of the French colonies. One of the important parts of this law is that Canada decided to reject the Elizabethan Poor Laws which allowed for taxes to be allocated to spend on poor relief.

Arrival of the first settlers from Pennsylvania

Arrival of the first pioneers to scout the area for fertile settlement land.

The Society for the Relief of Strangers in Distress

Due to the increase in immigration after the Napoleonic Wars ended in 1815, the Society was created ... Read More →

German settlers arrive

First German settlers arrive from Europe

Abraham Erb's Philanthropy for Schools

In his Will just before his death, Abraham Erb (1772-1830) devised $2000.00 to and for the use of ce... Read More →


Name of Berlin adopted

Dr. John Scott


House of Industry Act

House of industry Act passed allowing the erection and maintenance of houses of industry. The Act was not implemented, likely due to the Rebellion of 1837.

Poorhouse Act Amended

Poorhouse act was amended, allowing townships to collect funds for poor relief through property taxes.

Passing By-Laws

Municipalities are given the power to pass by-laws to regulate public houses and liquor sales as well as to limit the number of liquor outlets and to issue licenses.

Grand Trunk Railway Train

the first Grand Trunk Railway train steams into Berlin on May 14, 1856.

St. Agatha Orphanage

The St. Agatha Orphanage was founded in 1858 by Father Eugene Funcken and a residential building was eventually built ten years later for the growing number of orphaned children. Photo Source: Kitchener Public Library Archives

The Dunkin Act

The Dunkin Act (Or the Temperance Act) gave municipal governments the authority to prohibit the sale of alcohol with a majority vote. The Act proved difficult to administer due to lack of enforcement and municipal support.

Board of Health

Berlin declared its Board of Health, which greatly monitored and inspected sanitation in the county by its 37 members. Photo Source: Region of Waterloo Archives

Plans to Erect House of Industry and Refuge in Waterloo County

Section 413 of the Municipal Act of Ontario requires that the council of each Ontario County to establish a house of industry and refuge for their poor to be erected within 2 years. Waterloo County started the ground work for the House to be built on Frederick Street in Kitchener, Ontario. 141 acres of land was purchased from John Eby to build the first House of Refuge outside of Toronto and construction begun. Photo Source: House and Farm Expenditures of the County of Waterloo; Region of Waterloo Archives

Canadian Confederation

Celebration of the formation of the Dominion of Canada

First Button Factory in Berlin

Emile Voeglsang established Canada's first button factory in Berlin called Canadian Ivory Works. Photo Source: http://generations.regionofwaterloo.ca/getperson.php?personID=I32115&tree=generations

House of Industry and Refuge Opens

The first residents entered the Poorhouse on June 15, 1869. Photo Source: Busy Berlin: Jubilee Souvenir, 1897

British Home Children

British Home Children begin arriving in Canada

William Jaffray Visits

William Jaffray visits the House of Industry and Refuge on May 6, 1870. He published his findings in an article entitled "A Day at the Waterloo Poor House, and what I Learned There: A Lecture delivered by Wm. Jaffray,Esq., In the Town Hall, Berlin, ON The Evening of 20th June Last." Photo Source: Region of Waterloo Generations

Pest House

Pest House built on House of Industry and Refuge property “immediately North East from the Orchard” for treatment of inmates with contagious diseases. Photo Source: Letterbook of the House of Industry and Refuge, Region of Waterloo Archives

Women's Property Act

The Ontario Legislature passes the Married Women’s Property Act, which gives a married woman the right to her own wage earnings free from her husband’s control.

Founding of Women's Temperance Union

Women’s Christian Temperance Union formed in Owen Sound, Ontario

Charity Aid Act

Charity Aid Act in Ontario encouraged voluntary organizations to establish and support orphanages and altered subsidies for poorhouses to receive money based on number of inmates that stayed overnight and work performed.

Ontario Liquor License Act

Ontario Liquor License Act (the Crooks Act) withdrew the power to licence liquor outlets from municipalities to the province and limits the number of licences for each district.

First Telephone Line in Berlin

The first telephone line was installed in Louis Breithaupt's office on Queen Street to his house on ... Read More →

Unmarried Women Vote

The Ontario legislature passes a law permitting unmarried women with property qualifications to vote in municipal by-laws, under the pressure of the Toronto Women’s Literary Society.

Amendment to Women's Property Act

Ontario grants married women the right to own property and deal with it and sell it without consulting her husband.

Women's Temperance Union established in Waterloo County

Womens christian temperance union of Waterloo County is formed, with 148 members in five unions: Berlin, Galt, Preston, Ayr, and central Dumfries. Photo Source: Copyright Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1984-4-935 Dominion W.C.T.U

Smallpox in Ontario

Smallpox strikes Eastern Ontario in 1884 and schools and churches closed and public gatherings were banned due to an outbreak of Smallpox. By January 1885, there were 202 cases and 45 deaths due to the viral disease. Many counties and townships are quarantined in hopes of stopping the spread.

Heating System

A more effective heating system was installed in the House.

Smallpox Epidemic

Ontario deploys medical inspectors to Quebec to inspect all persons boarding trains to Ontario. This helped to limit the 1885 smallpox death toll in Ontario to 30 in comparison to that of 5,964 in Quebec.

Berlin Waterloo Hospital Opens

The Berlin Waterloo Hospital is opened with 50 beds for patients. Photo Source: www.images.ourontario.ca

Horse-drawn Streetcar System

Establishment of the Berlin Board of trade. Establishment of a horse-pulled streetcar system in Berlin and Waterloo. Photo Source: Kitchener Public Library Archives

New Fence at the House

High board fence removed and new driveways made as well as a new wing, costing $3 372.00 and new buildings costing $5 500.00.

House of Refuge Act

House of Refuge Act passed in Ontario, providing county governments with grants of up to $4000 to purchase 45+ acres of land for a building to house people living in destitution. For more information: http://www.thelmawheatley.com/before-1876-jails-work-houses-asylums/ The image provided is of the House of Refuge in Whitby, Ontario that was in operation from 1903-1951. Source: http://images.ourontario.ca/whitby/results?fsu=Ontario+County+House+of+Refuge

Children's Protection Act

Children could not remain in the same institution as dependent adults as well at the Act for the Prevention of Cruelty and Better Protection of Children. Image source: Kitchener Public Library Archives

1893 Scandal and the Poorhouse

After being accused of mistreating and neglecting several inmates, Peter and Alvina Itter were investigated by a Special Committee.

Electric Trolleys

Electric trolleys replace the horse pulled streetcars. Photo Source: Kitchener Public Library Archives

Chapel Built at the House

Chapel built on the left side of the main building, costing $700.00. It was removed in 1919 when the east wing was built. Photo Source: Mel Green

Berlin Orphanage Opens

The Berlin Orphanage was established in 1896 by Reverend and Mrs. Stoltz on the corner of King Street and what is now Victoria Street in Kitchener, Ontario. Mary Snider (shown in the photo) was the first matron of the orphanage. Photo Source: Waterloo Region Generations

No More Children at House

Children between the ages of 2 and 16 no longer accepted to poorhouse and are sent to the local orphanages soon after their arrival to the House. Babies are now being born at the Berlin-Waterloo Hospital and no longer at the Poorhouse.

Typhoid and Diptheria Outbreak

Typhoid is seen in 45 more cases in Waterloo County and diphtheria has its worst epidemic yet with 158 cases.

Berlin Rubber Company Opens

The Berlin Rubbery Factory opened, allowing for both men and women to work in the factory. Photo Source: Kitchener Public Library Archives

Women's Professions

Teaching is the only profession open to women that leads to a pension.

School of Anatomy

The House of Industry and Refuge began to send unclaimed bodies of inmates to the School of Anatomy in Toronto. The first body sent to the School was Frederick Marti's after his death on March 4th, 1904.

School of Anatomy

The Ontario Anatomy Act was passed which required that the bodies of people who died in the House of Industry and Refuge and still remain unclaimed by relatives or friends for 34 hours after death should be sent to the Medical College to be used by students in scientific research.

Canadian Government Annuities Act

The Canadian Government Annuities Act encouraged Canadians to prepare financially for their retirement through the purchase of a government annuity. The Act allowed for the purchase of various annuities for different amounts and lengths of time. At a specified age, the recipient would begin to receive fixed yearly benefits. For more information: http://www.nupge.ca/sites/nupge.ca/files/publications/Pensions%20Documents/History_of_Pensions.pdf

Hydropower in Berlin

Niagara hydro electric transformer station arrives in Berlin. Photo Source: Kitchener Public Library Archives

Berlin Sanitorium Association

The Berlin Sanitorium Association was created in November which greatly focused on patients with Tuberculosis.

Berlin Becomes a City

Berlin officially becomes a city. W.H. Schmalz is the first Mayor of Berlin. Photo Source: Kitchener Public Library Archives

First Automobile at the Poorhouse

The first automobile was purchased by Managers, Herbert and Lucy Martin, in 1917. The Board of Management for the House of Industry and Refuge provided $100.00 towards expenses of the automobile. The introduction to cars came in the late 19th to early 20th century around the world. Berlin was one of the first producers of the first Canadian gasoline-powered car, the LeRoy, at the LeRoy Manufacturing Co. of Berlin. The upkeep for the car was paid to to the keeper annually in addition to his salary. It is unclear what kind of vehicle was purchased for the House managers.

Pin It on Pinterest