Rebuilt WR: At the Formerly Grand Downtown YMCA

It’s fun to stay at the YMCA, it’s fun to stay at the YMCA, or at least it was between 1922 and 1982 when the local Y made its home in downtown Kitchener. For more than sixty years the Y graced the corner of Weber and Queen Streets in the core with its handsome red brick Georgian style building. Hosting church groups, meetings and activities like dancing, the Y was a well-used neighbourhood meeting place. The building also housed residences for men who were new to the city and could not afford a hotel room. In 1982 the new A.R. Kaufman YMCA building opened in the Rockway neighbourhood and the building was sold and used as apartments until 1988. This photo shows the building in that year, being prepared for the same fate that had already claimed two of its intersection neighbours, the original Waterloo County Courthouse, and the Kitchener Carnegie Library. The current Regency apartments were constructed on the site in the early 2000s, which brought new – and much needed – downtown residents to the core, but did little to improve the pedestrian experience at street level. Happily, St. Andrew’s Church still hovers over the intersection, reminding us of the former grandeur of the long gone historic buildings that once called Queen and Weber home.

Photo: Matt Smith