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Grand River - Sausages to Software

The Industrial Evolution

More on the Grand River:
Grand River:
Ontario’s historic heartland

Bloom Town:
The flowering of an old-style Ontario town

The Grand’s Canyon:
Tourism powers an old mill town

Grinding Along the Grand:
Stone mills lined the riverbanks

High-Rise Herons:
Big swamp birds thrive in a wetland haven

Home and Native Land:
Homestead of the Six Nations

Old Order:
Mennonites set their own pace of change

Plaster of Paris:
A town arises from gypsum and cobblestones

Raising Rainbows:
Rehabilitating a tired industrial river

Sausages to Software:
The Industrial Evolution

Grand Stand:
Survival of a river valley forest

The 19th century saw a proliferation of industry along the Grand. The river was ideally suited for factories because of its water power and the industrious tradition of its inhabitants.

As well as being efficient farmers, German-speaking Mennonite settlers took pride in their fine craftsmanship. Among the immigrant Mennonites were expert woodworkers, weavers, wagon makers, tailors, shoemakers, potters, and leather makers. German food culture made Kitchener the best-known source of sausages in Canada.

The tradition of making crafts and developing business provided a base for the twin cities of Kitchener-Waterloo to grow into a solid economic community. Leading industries include meat packing, electronics manufacturing, and, most recently, software development.

The driving force behind the software and computer companies in this area is the University of Waterloo. When business people and educators got together to form the new university in 1950s, they were primarily interested in developing the engineering skills of the local workforce. The educational goals of Waterloo University have continued to be aligned with the needs of business and industry. Today, this means a strong emphasis on computer and software innovation.

Computer Science graduates of the University of Waterloo find challenging, well-paying jobs throughout North America. Many others have chosen to stay close by and start their own computer-related businesses. These businesses, in turn, create more jobs for graduates, and more opportunities for well-trained entrepreneurs.

The newest co-operative project involving the University of Waterloo, the Grand River Foundation, and private enterprise, is the development of software for use by high schools to track their own community histories, significant natural areas, and historical buildings and features.

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