Grand River - Sausages to Software
The Industrial Evolution
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
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
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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