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Welcome to ACO North Waterloo Region’s Website!

Architectural Conservancy Ontario (ACO) is a provincial charitable organization.

Through education and advocacy we encourage the conservation and re-use of structures, districts and landscapes of architectural, historic, and cultural significance.


ACO North Waterloo Region Branch Annual General Meeting

Date: Monday, June 11, 2018, 7pm
Location: St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 825 King Street West, Kitchener
Cost: Free


The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, North Waterloo Region branch will have its AGM at the historic St. Mark’s Lutheran Church.  The church has now been sold to a developer. Members and guests will have the opportunity to view the church interior and learn more about its remarkable features.  Inside the church are displayed exceptional work of a variety of skilled craftsmen who enriched the interior with impressive Gothic oak fittings, handsome hammerbeam ceiling, box-style pews and rear balcony reminiscent of medieval English great halls.
You can also view the wonderful stained glass windows designed in styles both traditional and contemporary and representing the work of several glass studios, among them Kitchener’s own Bullas family of glass artists. The church building itself shows to stunning effect these and other distinguished local arts and crafts. It is a beautifully articulated Gothic revival style, designed by local architect Bernal A. Jones. St. Mark’s Lutheran was newly built and dedicated in 1939 for a congregation of Lutheran worshipers.  Bernal Jones was architect to the PUC building opposite Kitchener City Hall and the 1924 City Hall, now demolished.
Diane Bonfonte, long-time member of St Mark’s, who has served as its historian for many years will share  details of the congregation’s history that date back well beyond the building of the current church in 1939.
Susan Burke will speak to the stained glass artistry in the church and Karl Kessler will share information on the design of the church and its elegant interior carpentry. Refreshments will be served in the adjoining Parish Hall.

Church members have generously volunteered to conduct brief tours of the sanctuary and parish hall for members who arrive by 6:45. The Casavant organ may even provide a musical welcome before the official business of the AGM gets underway.
Admission for the evening is free for members and guests but as always, donations are welcome. Parking is located next to the church on King Street. Additional paid parking is available across King Street.

City Building Series, Lectrure 3: Urban Conservation: Challenges & lessons from three cities by Dr Luna Khirfan

We are pleased to announce the third talk will be presented by Dr. Luna Khirfan, Associate Professor in the School of Planning, University of Waterloo.  Dr. Khirfan has impressive credentials in several related fields including heritage management, archaeology and architecture.
This lecture will delve into the circumstances that shaped urban conservation projects in three historic cities: Aleppo (Syria), Acre (Israel), and Salt (Jordan). These projects offer valuable lessons for planning practitioners, entrepreneurs, and community activists interested in historic conservation. Regardless of place, it is difficult to balance historic conservation with the conflicting interests of urban design, social justice, and economic development. 
Dr. Khirfan’s research underscores community engagement in urban planning of Middle Eastern cities. Her book, World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism: Three Cities in the Middle East (Routledge, 2014) explores the relationship between public engagement, place making, and place experience in urban rehabilitation.  Dr. Khirfan has examined the cross-national transfer of planning knowledge in the context of climate change.  She has examined the use of the charrette as a participatory tactic, a data collection method, and a knowledge exchange mechanism.  

The University of Waterloo bookstore will have Dr. Khirfan’s books available for sale at the lecture.

Date: Thursday, May 10, 7-9pm

Location: 675 Queen Street South, Walterfedy Building

Cost: Non-Members, $8.50, memberships available at the door for $35.

Please register at Eventbrite.


Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School: Some key facts


Key to the heritage of the Mohawk Institute Residential School are the following:

  • It is one of a few residential schools in existence
  • It is the longest running school in Canada
  • It had a key role in the attempt to assimilate indigenous languages and cultures
  • Restoring the building meets several of the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Below you will find more details about why this building is important to our heritage.


The Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School is a stirring example of a dark period in Canadian history that sought to destroy Indigenous cultures.  The school operated in Brantford, Ontario from 1828 as a Mechanic’s/day school within the Mohawk Village.  From 1934 to 1970 it was a boarding school for First Nations children from Six Nations and other communities throughout Ontario and Quebec. The removal of thousands of First Nations children from their homes and placing them in such institutions served as a key tool in the effort to assimilate them into European Christian society – it effectively severed the continuity of culture from parent to child. After closing in 1970, it reopened in 1972 as the Woodland Cultural Centre, a non-profit organization that serves to preserve and promote First Nations culture and heritage. As one of only a handful of residential school buildings left still standing in Canada, the Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School is a physical reminder of the legacy of assimilation imposed upon First Nations children in Canada.

Every year, more than 15,000 people visit the Mohawk Institute as part of the Woodland Cultural Centre. Visitors come to see not only what was once the longest-running residential school in Canada, but they also experience the stories the building holds. The school building has been providing in-depth and historically significant insight into the Residential School System for the past decade.

In 1972 the Woodland Cultural Centre was established by an Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians (Six Nations and others).  The Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School Building is part of the Woodland Cultural Centre.  It is a ten acre site  residing on the Six Nations Territory within the geographical boundary of the city of Brantford, Ontario.  It is governed by the three support communities of Wahta Mohawks, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, and Six Nations of the Grand River.

Need for Restoration

In 2013 after devastating water leaks from the roof, the Woodland Cultural Centre (lessees of the site) recommended to Six Nations Elected Council a community consultation is in order on whether to save the aging Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School, or not. As Woodland is the tenant of the site, we wanted to hear from Survivors, intergenerational family members and the overall community how they felt moving forward. Overwhelmingly, 95% of respondents recommended to save the building. In 2014, the Save the Evidence capital campaign to restore the Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School was launched.

In announcing the capital campaign, Six Nations Elected Chief G. Ava Hill also issued a challenge to other political bodies: match Six Nations Elected Council’s seed money of $220,000.00. At that time, the Six Nations Elected Council, by way of motion, chose to make the Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School the first Six Nations national historic site. In 2015, the Province of Ontario announced $10 million over the next three years to go towards the repairs of the building.

The roof has been repaired and the front facade has been restored.  However, the interior of the school needs numerous repairs before it can be an adequate centre for education. With renovations underway on such a historical and important building there are precautions that need to be made to ensure the safety and preservation of historical documents and artifacts remain undamaged. The Woodland Cultural Centre is working with heritage firms that specialize in historical preservation, so all precautions are being made. Artifacts found inside the school and on the grounds surrounding it show how children at the school found ways to interact with one another even though it was often forbidden. The children would scratch their names on some of the building’s exterior bricks and they would also climb in and around some of the buildings walls that lead to small cubbyholes after curfew to spend time together. It’s special little human-interest elements like these that the centre is going to make sure remain preserved.


The Save The Evidence fundraising campaign is an initiative of the Woodland Cultural Centre and the Six Nations Elected Council.  The goal is to raise the necessary funds for repairs and renovations to ensure the physical evidence of the dark history of Residential Schools in Canada is never forgotten.  The current phase of repairs requires an additional $12.5 million, and another $5 million still needs to be raised towards perpetual care.

Heritage Aspects

The school is a reminder of the legacy of the residential schools in Canada and it is one of a handful in existence, which makes its restoration so critical.  The building is an excellent example of a neoclassical style, with a central verandah supported by two-storey-tall Doric columns.  Once the children were taken inside, they were divided into the separate wings for girls and boys.  One resident reported that she went in with her three brothers and sisters and never saw her brothers in the school.

After the fires of 1903, the Mohawk Institute was rebuilt in 1904, the current imposing building. It is set well back from the street which emphasizes the separation that existed between the residents and the community.  “The new building was one of the earliest examples of a second-generation residential school, the most obvious feature of which was a heavier massing that departed from the residential scale of the first generation. Built in a Neoclassical style with the new Mohawk Institute seemed designed to lend legitimacy to the increasingly harsh conditions and growing absurdity within.” (Magdalena Milosz, 2015 “Don’t Let Fear Take Over”: The Space and Memory of Indian Residential Schools. MA Thesis, University of Waterloo,

Thus, the most critical heritage aspect is the need to understand, through the structure and the artifacts, the devastating impact of residential schools in Canada. By preserving these reprehensible heritage features, we can understand that legacy.  We can also meet numerous references to education about the residential schools in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action.

Many thanks to Paula Whitlow, Executive Director of the Woodland Cultural Centre




This year, with the familiar landscapes of Kitchener/Waterloo transforming themselves before our very eyes, the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, North Waterloo Region branch (ACONWR) has chosen to reflect on CITY BUILDING in its annual lecture series. In our first lecture we examined the role played by planning and urban design as we traced the growth and development of our twin cities from small villages to thriving urban communities.

In the second lecture of the series, Cecelia Paine, Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Guelph’s School of Environmental Design, will discuss the role of the landscape architect in city building.

The lecture will take place on Thursday, March 8th at the offices of WalterFedy, 675 Queen Street South, Kitchener beginning at 7pm. Additional details and registration are available at Eventbrite.

Landscape architects have played a significant role in the design of Canadian cities, though their work is not as well-recognized as that of other disciplines. Paine’s presentation will trace landscape architects’ contributions to city building, from the restorative landscape movement in the late 1800s to current work that embodies such themes as cultural identity and landscape resiliency. Revealed is a picture of how landscape architects have shaped the character and diversity of Canada’s urban landscapes.

Cecelia Paine teaches community design, urban park and open space planning, and professional practice in her position at the University of Guelph. Her academic interests focus particularly on heritage landscape conservation. Prior to joining her colleagues in Guelph, Paine practiced in Ottawa where her firm specialized in heritage conservation and urban design. She recently completed an assessment of the cultural heritage resources of the Cootes to Niagara Eco-Park. Paine is a board member of the Landscape Architecture Canada Foundation and the National Capital Commission’s Advisory Committee on Planning, Design and Real Estate.

Mark Thursday, May 10th on your calendar for the third of ACO’s lecture series when Dr Luna Khirfan of the University of Waterloo explores the relationship between public engagement, place making and place experience in the urban conservation of three Middle Eastern cities on the World Heritage List.

Below are some of the past events that

ACO North Waterloo Branch has held in the past two years…





The North Waterloo Branch of the Architectural Conservancy Ontario (ACO) will once again host a series of three educational lectures open to the public.  The City Building Lecture Series will examine the role played by planning, urban design and landscape architecture in the 3-dimensional development of our communities while still encouraging the preservation of our built heritage.

The first lecture coincides with World Town Planning Day, an international event celebrating the accomplishments of planners and their contributions to communities.

Lecture 1: November 9

7 pm

Designing our Neighborhoods: Trends and Influences over 150 Years

Glenn Scheels,  MCIP, RPP Principal Planner,  GSP Group

Waterloo Region has grown from a scattering of small villages to one of Canada’s largest and most vibrant urban areas. A strong economy has propelled significant growth and the urban area has many neighborhoods built in different eras over the past 150 years. This lecture will provide an overview of town planning and the various planning, design and urban development movements that influenced and shaped our neighborhoods in Kitchener and Waterloo.

All lectures will be held at the WalterFedy Building

675 Queen Street South, Kitchener, Ontario














Admission is free to members, $8.50 to non-members.

Memberships available at the door.

Please register at Eventbrite.

For more details, click here







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North Waterloo Region Branch


in partnership with Princess Cinemas a film series dedicated to




This inspirational documentary chronicles urban activist Jane Jacobs battle to save historic NYC neighborhoods from the draconian plans of ruthless powerbroker Robert Moses in the 1960s. This iconic film launches ACO’s lecture series on City Building



This engaging portrait of a visionary man takes us to the heart of his ideas. Dutch architect, theorist, and urbanist, Koolhaas’ habit of shaking up established conventions has made him one of the most controversial and influential architects.



Using 50,000 archival documents, the full story of the white-knuckled countdown to the grand opening April 28, 1967 can be relived through this fascinating documentary.

7:30pm (note time change)


Commissioned by Jim Stewart, the most published mathematician since Euclid, the fabulous Rosedale mansion known as Integral House incorporates a concert hall in its design. The architects of this acknowledged masterpiece are Shim and Sutcliffe, UWaterloo ’83 graduates



Doors Open Waterloo Region

Doors Open Waterloo Region has several talks scheduled for Saturday, September 16th.  Details of each talk are below and pdf files are attached.

Details of all Doors Open events can be found at the Waterloo Doors Open websites:

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1. Attractors

Location: University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy
10-A Victoria St. S., Kitchener
Free Doors Open Parking: UW Lot 3 (enter from Joseph St.)

2 p.m. TALK

Siamak Hariri, Founding Partner of Hariri Pontarini Architects and Partner-in-Charge of the University of Waterloo’s School of Pharmacy design, will discuss how the firm partners with clients in their aspirations, leveraging the transformative power of collaboration and design: the ability of design to shift the perception of what an institution is and wants to be. Every project is a narrative; the unfolding, in architectural form, of the history and values of its client. By channeling the finest aspects – the very soul – of each institution into architectural form, we leverage the power of design to transform, to attract, and to uplift.

Seating for 80; open seating

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2. 60 Years at Waterloo: Perspectives of a University, from a Corn Field to Architectural Traditions

Location: University of Waterloo Dana Porter Library
200 University Ave. W., Waterloo
Free Doors Open parking: UW Lot HV on UW Ring Road (see map) or UW Lots at St. Jerome’s UC and Renison UC (enter from Westmount Rd.)

1 p.m. TALK

In this illustrated talk, Ken McLaughlin, distinguished professor emeritus and Waterloo’s official historian, will tell the story of the development of the 1,000-acre University of Waterloo campus, and its impact in Waterloo and beyond.

In the Dana Porter Library Flex Lab (floor 3); seating for 50; open seating.

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3. Iconography: Windows into Heaven

Location: Holy Transfiguration Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church

131 Victoria St. S., Kitchener

2 p.m. TALK

Discover the rich meaning of Byzantine iconography, using as illustration the iconography of Holy Transfiguration Church, during this talk by Fr. Myroslaw Tataryn, theologian, professor, and Department of Religious Studies Chair at St. Jerome’s University, Waterloo. You will be introduced to this ancient medium, often termed “theology in colour”, which adorns the walls, ceiling, and beautiful iconostasis of the church.

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4.  Life in the Detweiler Neighbourhood 150 Years Ago

Location: Detweiler Meetinghouse
3445 Roseville Rd., Roseville

11 a.m. TALK

Gather meetinghouse-style on the Detweiler benches as they did 150 years ago, and hear historian and author Sam Steiner’s overview of life and faith among the Mennonite settlers in this part of Waterloo Region. Followed by a Q&A session. Illustrated books covering much of this history will be for sale at the book table. 

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5. The Grand and the Land Indigenous History in this Place
Location: Button Factory Arts
25 Regina St. S., Waterloo
3 pm
Phil Monture of Six Nations of the Grand River, spokesperson and professional researcher  with 40 years of experience on the topics of treaties  and land issues, will provide an illustrated overview of the long history of land use in this region  and the larger Grand River watershed,  and also of the land transactions involving  Indigenous Peoples, the Crown, and later settlers.  In his ongoing research and advocacy,  Phil has worked with the Canadian International Development Agency, the Ontario Government,  the Canadian Government, the Assembly  of First Nations, and the United Nations.

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6. The Importance  of Meditation
Location: Ram Dham Hindu Temple and Brahmvidya Yogashram
525 Bridge St. E., Kitchener

11:00 am
Explore the theory and the practice of meditation, with its long tradition in South Asian culture as your context, and Swami Haripriya, a priest at Ram Dham Hindu temple, as your guide.  An opening 30-minute talk will be followed by a guided 15-minute meditation session.
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Designing for Education: Lecture # 3

The Un-Official Story: a personal account of the building of the University of Waterloo

Tuesday May 16, 2017

WalterFedy Grand River Room,  675 Queen St. S., Kitchener 

 7 p.m.

Pre-register here.

FREE for ACO members, $8.50 non-members.

Join ACO by clicking here.


Over his 48-year career as a student and School of Architecture Director and Professor at the University of Waterloo, Rick Haldenby has observed and, many times, been directly involved in the design of buildings on and off campus.

Photo: University of Waterloo Library Special Collections and Archives

In this all new talk, Haldenby will weave stories of buildings into a narrative that visits both high and not-so-high points in the development of the built fabric of a great institution.

Registration required.

UW Math and Computer Building under construction

Photo: Feb 6 1968. University of Waterloo Library Special Collections & Archives


Designing for Education – Lecture #2


Tuesday March 21, 2017

7 p.m.

 WalterFedy, 675 Queen St. S., Kitchener 

FREE for ACO members, $8.50 for non-members.  Join ACO here.

Please pre-register at Or call 519-635-8951.

The second event in the Architectural Conservancy Ontario – North Waterloo Region’s series on the history of school architecture in Waterloo Region consists of two short lectures:

“The One Room Schoolhouse and Beyond: The Work of the Knechtel Firm 1890 – 1930” by Susan Burke
For much of the 19th century, the one room school house played a vital role in the life of Ontario’s rural communities. Change when it came, was slow, much to the chagrin of the passionate cleric, Egerton Ryerson who, as Superintendent of Education, was bent on reform. The schoolhouse designs of this Berlin/Kitchener firm over forty years reveal the gradual implementation of the provincial standards and reflect advances in technology and pedagogical thought and in social change.

“The Modern Schoolhouse: Post-war Growth and Change in Waterloo Region” an all new talk by Rick Haldenby
The education system in Ontario changed dramatically after the Second World War. The population and the economy expanded dramatically. It was clear we needed a highly educated workforce. Cities across the province embarked on a dramatic expansion of their facilities for all levels of education. In our area the expansion was the most dramatic: dozens of new schools were built. Their designs reflected new ideas in architecture and education: some were aggressively modern, some looked back to the traditions of the past and integrated them in hybrid forms. All were designed by local architects. They were of high quality and remain with us today.

Refreshments will be served.

A History of School Architecture in Ontario

photo of Cherry Valley School Waterford 1866

Tuesday November 15, 2016

7 p.m.

 WalterFedy, 675 Queen St. S., Kitchener 

FREE for ACO members, $8.50 for non-members.  Join ACO here.

Please pre-register at Or call 519-635-8951.

Architectural historian Shannon Kyles takes a look at trends in the architecture of Ontario school buildings and the social forces which influenced these.  She will open a discussion of how the school building both reflects and contributes to the quality of education. 

Refreshments will be served.