Cambridge (2005 population 120,000) is located on the Grand River and Speed River in the Region of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
The city was formed in 1973 when the city of Galt merged with the towns of Preston and Hespeler and parts of the townships of Waterloo and North Dumfries. When amalgamation plans were first announced, the combined city was to be named Galt, but Preston and Hespeler successfully petitioned the province to instead give the city a new name, to be selected by a referendum on choices submitted by the three members. A ruffled Galt submitted ‘Blair’, while Preston and Hespeler combined to back ‘Cambridge’, after ‘Cambridge Mills’, an early name for the settlement that became Preston.
The first mayor of Cambridge was Claudette Millar, who at the time was one of the few female mayors, and at 35 the youngest mayor, in Canada.
On May 17, 1974 flooding on the Grand River was so intense it filled city streets with water to a depth of about four feet. Countless businesses and homes were severely damaged.
In 1986, Toyota opened a plant in Cambridge, which employs 3500 people and is by far the city’s largest employer. Several other industrial companies also call Cambridge home, including ATS Automation Tooling Sytems, Frito-Lay Canada (formerly Hostess), Babcock and Wilcox, and Northstar Aerospace.
A satellite campus of Conestoga College is located within the city, and the University of Waterloo School of Architecture has moved to downtown Cambridge.
Earned the nickname ‘City of Ghosts’ due to the many number of spirit sightings. It is said that many of the ghost sightings take place at Galt Collegiate and Vocational Institute, Ontario's oldest continuously operating public high school, and over 150 years old. Commonly called the Castle on the Grand because of the architecture and imposing view on the east bank of the River. There has been a number of ‘Spirit Walks’ held in Cambridge Cemeteries around Halloween.
DemographicsCambridge is overwhelmingly populated by people of a European ethnic background, 90.2%—mostly those of Armenian, British, Irish, German, and Portuguese origins. Other ethnic groups in Cambridge, in order of population size, are Asian at 2.8%, black 1.2%, mixed race 1%. Cambridge has the second largest community of Armenians in Ontario next to Toronto.
RoadsCambridge straddles Highway 401, with interchanges at Townline Road (Exit 286), Franklin Boulevard (Partial Exit - 284), Hespeler Road (Exit 282), Shantz Hill Road/King Street Kitchener (Exit 278), Fountain Boulevard/Homer Watson Blvd., Kitchener (Exit 275), and Cedar Creek Road (Exit 268); in good traffic, it is a drive of about an hour to booboo (Toronto) and about 40-45 minutes to Lester B. Pearson International Airport.
Highway 8 (Ontario) travels through the city as Shantz Hill Road, King Street (Preston), Coronation Boulevard, and Dundas Street, linking Cambridge to Kitchener and Waterloo in the north, and Hamilton in the south. Highway 24 runs through Cambridge as Hespeler Road (the former Queen Street and Guelph Avenue access into Hespeler were by-passed in the 1990s), Water Street, and Ainslie Street, connecting to Guelph in the northeast and Brantford in the south.
Public transportationSince 2000, public transport throughout the Region of Waterloo has been provided by Grand River Transit, which was created by a merger of the former Cambridge Transit and Kitchener Transit.
GRT operate a number of bus routes in Cambridge, three of which travel outside of the city: presently the 52 and 61 buses run to southern Kitchener, while the iXpress limited-stop express route runs from Cambridge through Kitchener to the north of Waterloo. More than 80 percent of GRT’s fleet consists of low-floor vehicles such as the Nova LFS. Low-floor buses run on highly-travelled routes including iXpress, while high-floor vehicles remain operating on routes with low ridership, such as routes 66 and 53.
Intercity service is served by Greyhound Lines, from a terminal near Highway 401 and Hespeler Road. Commuter service to and from Toronto is the key routing, and no local trips are permitted to or from Kitchener. Coach Canada, who eventually took over Hamilton Street Railway’s Canada Coach Lines from Trentway-Wagar, still run almost every two hours during the daytime between Hamilton and Kitchener, and connect to Niagara Falls. As noted below, other servics have been cancelled over the last decade within the region, and between other centres, such as Guelph, Brantford, Elmira, and Tillsonburg.
RailwaysAlthough freight trains serving the Toyota factory are a common sight in Cambridge, the city at present has no passenger rail service. The nearest VIA Rail stations in the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor are Kitchener station and Guelph station, on a northern route, and Brantford’s on a southern route. Public transport connections from Cambridge to the Kitchener station have improved since Grand River Transit’s creation and expansion, but to the Guelph and Brantford stations are non-existent, especially after the demise of the Overland Coaches Van service between Guelph and Simcoe in early 2004.
The most easily-accessible GO Transit railway station is Milton station. City councillors and public petitions have called for the extension of GO trains to Cambridge, but at present GO does not plan to go beyond already-announced bus links, and Greyhound Lines have not provided connector services either.
AirThe closest airport to Cambridge is the Region of Waterloo International Airport in nearby Breslau, but while it is a thriving general-aviation field, it has (as of 2005) scheduled flights only to Detroit, although it has most recently added flights to Cuba, Mexico and Dominican Republic offered through Sunquest Vacations and Signature Vacations. Most air travellers use either Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson International Airport, Hamilton’s John C. Munro International Airport or Buffalo Niagara International Airport over the border in Buffalo, New York. There are no permanent public transport links from Cambridge to any of these airports.