Description of Historic Place
The Betzner Farmstead, composed of a farmhouse, drive shed and cultural heritage landscape, is located at 437 Pioneer Tower Road, in the southeast end of the City of Kitchener. The two-storey farmhouse was designed in the Mennonite Georgian style by John Betzner, and the accessory drive shed was designed in the utilitarian and vernacular style typical of pioneer farmsteads. Both buildings were constructed in circa 1830.
The property was designated by the City of Kitchener for its historic and architectural merit under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law 2003-179).
The Betzner Farmhouse is located on the top of a ridge of land featuring largely unobstructed views to the Grand River Valley. The site continues to feature characteristics which originally influenced its settlement by Mennonite pioneers. These features include rich fertile soils, a mixture of dense forest, open meadows and proximity to water. Due to the context of the site, the combined homesteads of the Schoerg and Betzner families are arguably the most significant cultural heritage landscape in Waterloo Region.
The Betzner Farmstead was originally part of a tract of land set aside for the Six Nations as a reserve by the British Crown in 1784. Block 2 of the reserve was sold by Joseph Brant and the Six Nations to Colonel Richard Beasley in 1797. Beasley, a United Empire Loyalist, sold the land to several Pennsylvanian Mennonite farmers. In 1800, 150 acres within Block 2 of the former Six Nations Reserve were purchased by Samuel Betzner Sr.
The Betzner Farmstead lands were adjacent to those purchased by Joseph Schoerg, Samuel Betzner's son-in-law. Together the Betzner and Schoerg families are believed to have established the first permanent settlement in inland Upper Canada, and are considered to be founding families of Waterloo County. Their contribution to the region is commemorated with a memorial tower at the west end of the road.
Betzner Farmstead is an early example of the Mennonite Georgian style. Built circa 1830 by John Betzner, Samuel Betzner's son, the symmetrical proportions and basic architectural features in the home are clear examples of the Mennonite Georgian style. The drive shed, also built circa 1830, is an early example of utilitarian construction on a pioneer farmstead.
Sources: City of Kitchener By-law 2003-179; City of Kitchener Heritage Property Report; 437 Pioneer Tower Road, May 2003, Leon Bensason, Heritage Planner.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Betzner Farmstead include its:
- location along the Grand River
- unobstructed views of the Grand River Valley
- features that originally influenced its settlement, including the rich, fertile soils, the mixture of dense forest and open meadow, and the proximity to water
- location of the house in relationship to the drive shed
- symmetrical proportions
- typical Mennonite Georgian style and form
- fieldstone foundation
- six-paned attic windows in the gable ends
- simple return of the eaves
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Betzner drive shed include:
- fieldstone foundation;
- original hardware on the north and west elevation doors
- two 6/6 rectangular windows.