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Waterloo County Jail and Governor's House

73, Queen Street, City of Kitchener, Ontario, N2H, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1981/05/25

West elevation depicting the structure's Classic Revival architectural detailing.; Lindsay Benjamin, 2007.
Waterloo County Jail
Foreground: Governor's House Background: Waterloo County Jail, 2007.; Lindsay Benjamin, 2007.
Waterloo County Jail and Governor's House
West Elevation of the Governor's House.; Lindsay Benjamin, 2007.
Governor's House

Other Name(s)

Waterloo County Jail and Governor's House
Waterloo County Goal
73 Queen Street North

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1852/01/01 to 1853/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/03/27

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Waterloo County Jail and Governor's House, located at 73 Queen Street North, is situated on the south side of the street, north of Frederick Street and east of Weber Street, in downtown Kitchener. Built in 1852, the site consists of a jail building, governor's house, four exercise courtyards and stone walls.

The exterior of the buildings and structures have been recognized for their heritage value by the City of Kitchener under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, By-law 81-105.

Heritage Value

Both the Waterloo County Jail and the Governor's House are important in defining the establishment of Waterloo County. Both are located within Kitchener's north-east downtown district, known as the Civic District. The Governor's House was built to fit with the existing neighbourhood and to act as a visual barrier between the surrounding community and the Jail.

The Waterloo County Jail is the oldest existing government building in Kitchener and the last remaining original County building. Built in 1852, the same year that Berlin was appointed the seat of the County, the building is a symbol of the judicial independence of the city. In the late 1840s, a competition was held between Berlin and Galt for the appointment of the County seat. Berlin, a smaller town at the time, won, largely due to the donation of land by Frederick Gaukel, a local hotel owner, for the construction of the jail. The construction of the jail greatly affected the development of Berlin in the ensuing years.

The Governor's House, added in 1878 by local architect David W. Gingerich, was the home to the “Gaoler” and was an integral part of this complex for 100 years. Three bodies of prisoners who died in the jail are buried in the courtyard, and the building is rumoured to be haunted by the spirits of former inmates.

The Waterloo County Jail, a fine example of the Classic Revival style, was built out of granite, stone and brick trim. It is the only stone building in the Region built in this style, incorporating brick as a decorative feature.

The Governor's House was built in the mid-Victorian Italian Villa style and is one of the last existing houses of this type in the area. The home reflected the Governor's respected position in the Town of Berlin and features a four-storey tower and a Mansard roof.

Sources: City of Kitchener Record of Designation, May 1981; City of Kitchener By-law 81-105.

Character-Defining Elements

Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Waterloo County Jail include its:
- representative of the oldest remaining county building
- representation of the founding of Berlin as the county seat
- old stone work
- tin and gabled roofs
- 14 foot high stone walls
- large jail yard divided into four exercise yards
- location within Kitchener's downtown core
- location within the Civic District in Kitchener's downtown.

Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Waterloo Governor's House include its:
- buff brick construction in an L-shaped layout
- offset four-storey tower with Mansard roof and dormer windows
- brick quoining, tower and wood brackets
- circular staircase leading to the top of the tower
- positioning of the Governor's House in front of the jail
- location within Kitchener's downtown core
- location within the Civic District in Kitchener's downtown.




Recognition Authority

Local Governments (ON)

Recognition Statute

Ontario Heritage Act

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Designation (Part IV)

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1981/01/01 to 1981/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Governing Canada
Government and Institutions
Governing Canada
Security and Law

Function - Category and Type


Office or office building


Correctional Facility

Architect / Designer

Mellish and Russell, Brantford



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Kitchener 200 King Street West P.O. Box 118 Kitchener, ON N2G 4G7

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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