Waterloo You Never Knew


The history you don’t know is the most fascinating of all.

Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth century, Waterloo, Ontario, could be any small Canadian community. Its familiar histories privilege the “great accomplishments” of those who built the institutions we know today: industry, government, and education. But what of those who were marginalized, weird, and wonderful — real people who lived between the boundaries of mainstream existence?

Waterloo You Never Knew reveals forgotten and little known tales of a community in transition and reflects on those lives lived in infamy and obscurity, by choice or design. Meet the rumrunner, the ex-slaves, and the cholera victims, the grave-digging doctor, the séance-loving politician, and the sorcery-practising healer.

Come inside. See the Waterloo you never knew, revealed.


Waterloo You Never Knew: Life on the Margins reflects an authentic sense of place that roots the stories in Waterloo Region. It tells compelling stories of our community that should be heard.

Karen Redmond, Region of Waterloo Chair

[Joanna Rickert-Hall] has succeeded admirably in “bringing back” the forgotten whose stories deserve to be known and remembered.

Ontario Historical Society

About the Authors

Joanna Rickert-Hall

Posted by Dundurn Guest on February 13, 2018

Joanna Rickert-Hall

Joanna Rickert-Hall is a social historian engaged in the unending search for arcane and overlooked histories. She is the 2015 recipient of the Jean Steckle Award for Excellence in heritage education. Joanna lives in Waterloo, Ontario.

Stephanie Kirkwood Walker

Posted by Dundurn Guest on December 6, 2014

Stephanie Kirkwood Walker

Stephanie Kirkwood Walker was born, raised, and lives now in Waterloo County. With a PhD in Religion & the Arts, she taught at Waterloo's universities and has written extensively on biography, art, and landscape. She has done two documentaries set in Waterloo County: An Attentive Life: Conversations with Edna Staebler and Landscapes of the Heart.