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Kitchener - A Roofing Journey Of Styles

Kitchener's history dates back to 1784. Land was given to the Six Nations by the British as a gift during the American Revolution. The Six Nations sold 38,000 hectares of this land to Loyalist, Col.Richard Beasley. The Land Beasley had acquired was remote but interesting to German Mennonite farming families from Pennsylvania. The Mennonites wanted to live in an area that would allow them to practice their beliefs without persecution.

The Mennonites eventually purchased the remainder of the Beasley Land creating 160 farm tracts. By the 1800's the first buildings were built. Over the next decade or so several families moved north to what was called the Sand Hills. One of those families where the Schneiders. Their Home built in 1816 was constructed in the Georgian Style. A Gable roof with a 6/12 Pitch. The lower section was a crossed hip roof with the same pitch angle. With return eaves and Gable end Windows this now historic building was ahead of it's time. This Home, the oldest restored building in Kitchener is now a museum.

Immigration to the town Increased dramatically from 1816 until the 1870's and the Georgian Style of Home building and roof construction stayed the same. The Newcomers being of German (Mennonite) extraction.

In 1833, the area was named Berlin and in 1853 became the county seat of the newly established County Of Waterloo, moving its status to "village".

Throughout this time home building construction styles were Georgian and BerlinVernacular, higher pitched 8/12 and 9/12 roofs without return eaves. 

An Extension to the Grand Trunk Railway from Sarnia to Toronto and through Berlin in 1856 was a major boost to the community and building construction in the residential and commercial areas. Gothic Revival with steep front crossed gable roofing designs and Classical Revival with Triangular pediments and a front entrance (low slope roof) with porch columns were the architectural design of the day.

On June 9, 1912, Berlin was officially named a city. The first World War broke out in 1914 and with it came anti-German sentiment and Berlin was forced to confront its cultural distinctiveness. Building designs of this era include the Georgian20th century flat roof and hip roof as well as Italianate with arched windows and decorative moulds and the Italianate(vernacular) with square plan designs, deep overhangs, and gable ends with very large return eaves.

​There was in 1916 immense pressure to change the name of the city and following much debate and controversy - the name of the city was changed to Kitchener after Herbert Kitchener the 1st Earl Kitchener, who died serving as Secretary of State for War in the United Kingdom. Home Designs after this became inter-mixed with others. Second Empire Homes with Mansard roofs tall chimneys and round arch gable and dormers. Queen Anne with multiple roof styles and roof pitches, Queen Anne (modified) with multiple tall gables and decorative flat and low slope porches. Edwardian Classicism large crossed gable roofs with large open wood brackets. Craftsman homes came with a side gable roof and a large front dormer, roofs were built with deep overhangs with fake rafter ends. Hybrid Homes were another mix of Georgian style roofing with Italianate eave brackets and chimneys at both ends of the gable.

In the 1930's the British building Influence made its impact with the Tudor Revival - tall Gables and tall chimneys with the use of stucco and timbering.

Since then a multitude of varied roof designs have come to Kitchener to impact our residential communities. With different designs, shapes and styles that change the landscape of our community.