The story of Waterloo Park begins in 1890 when the Town of Waterloo, with the help of the Board of Trade, purchased the 65-acre Jacob Eby farm. The farm was sold by Jacob Eby’s widow, Elizabeth Eby, who was paid $74 an acre for the land in December 1890. The total cost of the farm was just under $5,000, and the area eventually became known as Waterloo Park.
Before deciding on the Eby farm land, the Special Park Committee considered the grounds of Mount Hope Cemetery and the existing showground near the William and Caroline Street intersection. The showground was a large, bare field of about ten acres that was used for “sports, tournaments, races, celebrations, Saengerfests, and for a time, horse races.”2 Neither of these locations offered the appeal of the spacious Jacob Eby farm land, so the committee unanimously agreed on recommending the farm as the site of the Town’s new park.
On August 4th, 1890, R.Y. Fish, Chairman of the Special Park Committee, presented the Jacob Eby property for consideration to the Town council. The property was desirable because of its wooded grounds and central location. Additionally, the presence of a pond created the potential for boating and swimming in the park. The people of the town agreed with the committee’s recommendation, and 250 residents signed a petition of support. On September 1, 1890, there was a majority vote to move forward with the new park under the Public Parks Act of 1883.3
The park was originally called “Westside Park”, because it was on the western side of the town. Although the name formally changed to “Waterloo Park” in 1910, people continued to call it the Westside Park into the 1920s. To the north and west of the area there was farmland, and it remained that way until about the 1950s.
If this has piqued your interest, you can read the rest of Jenna Hazzard’s feature piece on Waterloo Park on OurOntario.