An Insider's Guide to Waterloo Region

Interesting places on and off the beaten track

Pioneer Tower, Kitchener

Pioneer Tower, Kitchener

Photo by Ruth Kinzie

Kitchener’s Pioneer Tower is a frequently photographed landmark. The tower was completed in 1926 to celebrate the German origins of the region, particularly to memorialize the Pennsylvania Dutch and Mennonite settlers who settled here in the early 1800’s. The city of Berlin, Ontario was renamed Kitchener during World War 1 and this tower was built in an effort to heal nationalistic wounds. The architecture is Swiss in influence, as Switzerland is the ancestral home of some Mennonite families in the area.

The tower is often open and the steep steel steps lead to an upper balcony which offers a wide panoramic view of the Grand River and surrounding countryside. At the edge of the bluff is a small pioneer cemetery where members of the Sherk and Betzner families are buried. The Schoerg (Sherk) and Betzner homesteads are nearby and the farmhouses built around 1830 still stand. A small park with some playground equipment is adjacent to the tower. The picture above was taken on a summer evening. Sunrise and sunset light are friends of any photographer who may want to take an exceptional picture of this landmark.

Cost: Free

Nearby attractions: Walter Bean Trail



Written by Ruth

July 2, 2009 at 6:52 am

14 Responses

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  1. Thank you for linking our website to the article about the Old Sheave Tower, Blair.

    A delightful tea light of the Old Sheave Tower, created by my husband, Lloyd McDonald, is available at under “Sculptures.”

    Prints of Eleanor’s oil painting of Old Sheave Tower are available on the website in various sizes. The 30″x24″ original oil is still available. 519-894-2369.

    (Just one correction: The Blair Mill across from the Old Sheave Tower is no longer in operation.)

    Lloyd & Eleanor McDonald

    November 6, 2009 at 11:59 am

  2. […] met up with Meghan and Corey in Deer Ridge at the Pioneer Tower in Kitchener for their engagement session. In all the years I’ve lived in the KW area, I had […]

  3. […] Here is a photo I posted of the tower in the summer time. […]

  4. Do you know when the tower is open? We were there on the weekend and it was locked. My daughter would love to climb it!


    July 11, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    • I am sorry I cannot answer your question. I have been there when it is open but lately it has been closed. Perhaps another reader knows the answer.


      July 19, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    • The tower is not open to the public on a regular basis but can be opened by advance appointment by calling Woodside National Historic Site. They manage the property and can unlock it for you. Their number is 519-571-5684; dial extension 26.

      The tower will be open on Saturday, September 17th 2011 from 10am-5pm as part of “Doors Open Waterloo Region”.

      Enjoy your visit!

      Caitlin Van Horne

      September 13, 2011 at 3:24 pm

      • Thank you Caitlin!


        September 13, 2011 at 4:45 pm

  5. Just a quick note to note that the directions have changed. Now you need to turn off King St. E. at Deer Ridge Drive (not Pioneer Tower Road, which is now closed near the tower), and then take that street to Lookout Lane.


    November 30, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    • Thanks James. I just updated the map link.


      November 30, 2011 at 8:54 pm

  6. […] Pioneer Tower, Kitchener This entry was posted in Architecture, Historical, Kitchener by admin. Bookmark the permalink. […]

  7. Near the Pioneer tower there used to be a farm where you could go horseback riding, does anyone know if that is still open? And what the name might be? thanks

    Steve Hollis

    April 2, 2012 at 10:32 am

    • If you are looking for Pride stables it is at the end of Deer Ridge Dr. near the 6th hole tee. Sadly there used to be horses beside the tower but it is now developed. I got some fantastic pictures of horses running in front of the tower shortly before it closed. Chis Kraemer


      June 9, 2012 at 2:05 pm

  8. […] The following is a description of the tower from An Insider’s Guide to Waterloo Region. […]

  9. In 1926 my then 16 year old father Leo Kraemer, a sheetmetal apprintice, along with his father George Kraemer put the copper roof on the tower. George Kraemer was the sheetmetal Supt. for William Knell & Co. It is fitting that he did the work as his mother was Joanna Spetz, whose father Thiabold, was the first Catholic settler from Alsace in 1827. He had been to Moscow with Napolean and had enough of war! The original copper roof was replaced circa 2006. Chris Kraemer, Kitchener, June 2012.


    June 9, 2012 at 1:50 pm

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