Victoria Park, Kitchener Canada, Kitchener

Victoria Park, Kitchener

Victoria Park is the oldest park in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, situated downtown. It is the site of numerous events and festivities.

A Berlin(Kitchener) map from 1879 has a park called Town Park, located between Mill Street and Highland Road where Highland Courts and Woodside Parks stand today. It sits on the original Joseph E. Schneider homestead.

Victoria Park opened in 1896, the park was built mostly on swampy farm land. The man-made lake is fed by Schneider Creek, surrounds three small islands, and is crossed by multiple bridges, one dating to the creation of the park. The park also contains the Victoria Park pavilion, the Victoria Park Gallery and Archives, a bandstand, and a historic boathouse, now a pub and music venue.

The Gaukel street entrance features a clock tower which was once atop the old Kitchener City Hall (from 1924 and now site of Market Square Shopping Centre), and before that, the town's fire hall. It was moved to the park entrance and complemented with a fountain and a sculpture of luggage, by local artist Ernest Daetwyler, symbolizing the various waves of immigration that have contributed the city's history.

A cast-bronze statue of Queen Victoria by Cavaliere Raffaele Zaccaquini and a cannon are situated in the park. The statue was unveiled in May 1911, on Victoria Day on the ten year anniversary of her death. The Princess of Wales Chapter of the IODE raised the $6,000 needed for the monument.

In 1897, a large bronze bust of Kaiser Wilhelm I was installed to honour the region's prominent German-Canadian population, but it was removed and thrown into the lake by vandals in August 1914 at the beginning of the First World War. The bust was recovered from the lake and moved to the nearby Concordia club, but it was stolen again February 15, 1916, marched through the streets by a mob, made up largely of soldiers from the 118th Battalion, and has never been seen again. The 118th Battalion is rumoured to have melted down the bust to make napkin rings given to its members.

In the fall of 2011, $10.1-million of restoration work on the park's lake was started, and in all 85,000 tonnes of sediment were removed from the lake bottom. Thousands of concrete and stone blocks were placed along the 2.2 kilometres of shoreline as a retaining wall to prevent erosion. While the overall area of the lake was slightly reduced, the waterway near the mouth of Schneider's creek at the north end of the park was widened to create a "fore bay" which slows the flow of water and allows sediment to settle in one place for easy removal.