Friday, April 15, 2016

Two Hundred Years of History

Our region is investing in a controversial, expensive light rail project that will connect the twin cities via the main thoroughfare, King Street. These cities were settled in the late 18th- early 19th century by Mennonites from Lancaster and Bucks counties in Pennsylvania. My husband’s ancestors arrived from Bucks County in 1799. 

The streets involved in the project have been torn up for the past 18 months. The road in front of the hospital has been inaccessible and ambulances enter from the back. Businesses along the route are closing at an alarming rate and while the rail line should be good for business eventually, it is hard for owners to hold on to their customers in the interim.

A few weeks ago construction workers uncovered an old corduroy road in Waterloo a few metres below the current roadway. Ontario law demands an archeological assessment for finds like this and the work has been halted while the old logs are assessed. The region was very swampy and forested and the logs provided a rough roadway to navigate through the drainage basin of Laurel Creek. The archeologist suggested that it was built by Lancaster County Mennonites between 1790 and 1816 who brought this corduroy road style from Pennsylvania.

Two hundred years of history has been unearthed in a city whose main street is now dominated by asphalt, electricity, oil, motorized vehicles, universities, "Tech" industry, malls, coffee shops, and restaurants. The find is fascinating but we are hoping the rail project will start up again and this 200 year old commercial thoroughfare will once again be accessible and open for business.


  1. Fascinating, but ya gotta feel for the businesses.

  2. That is an interesting find.Let's hope that business will not be slowed down for too long.

  3. How interesting! I remember first reading of a "corduroy road" in the old, old book "Freckles," by Gene Stratton Porter, when I was growing up. Have you ever read it, or "Girl of the Limberlost?" Living in Malaysia, it was hard to envision what such a road would look like. Fun to see your photographs and read the story here.

  4. @Ginger- I have both of those Gene Stratton Porter books and loved them as a child. Missed the reference to corduroy roads but loved the nature setting and characters. We used to capture, kill and collect butterflies and moths when we were in grade school. I wouldn't encourage that now, even for tuition.


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