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Local History

Const. Jack Shuttleworth stands at the submerged corner of Ainslie and Dickson streets


Cambridge, Ontario, is a new city with a rich history. It was formed in January 1973 from the amalgamation of the city of Galt, the towns of Hespeler and Preston, and parts of Waterloo and North Dumfries townships. Residents still use these old city names to describe where they live.

Discover more stories from our city's past with our great local history resources.

Here are a few of our titles

Gordie Howe, A year in GaltFrederick Douglass in GaltThe Queen's Bush SettlementA heritage of stone

Browse our books and movies on these topics

Cambridge History
Get to know your city with these historical walking and driving tours of local neighbourhoods, books and movies about Cambridge events and institutions, and even Mayor Doug Craig's Christmas book.

Waterloo County History
Read about our area's Mennonite heritage, German pioneers or marvelous architecture.

View our collection of local historical documents

microfilmMicrofilm Holdings
Local newspapers dating back to 1849, census, church records, and more are available on microfilm. Please ask at the Queen's Square Member Services desk for assistance.

Cambridge Landmarks Map
Built using Mapbox, this tool is a great way to find information on old houses and heritage sites in Cambridge. Click on a landmark icon to open a scanned newspaper article about the landmark. The articles are from "Landmarks," a regular feature by Ray Martin that ran in the Cambridge Times during the 1990s and 2000s. Information for the feature was provided by the Cambridge Archives and the Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee.

Cambridge Landmarks
Cambridge Landmarks

Search for articles and photos about Cambridge homes and historical sites from "Landmarks", a regular feature of the Cambridge Times newspaper.

Cambridge Archives - Online Research Portal
The Cambridge Archives provides online access to records dating back over 200 years, including digital images, census records, select marriage licences and obituaries, vital statistics, veterans, meetings and agendas, reports, by-laws and other important data from the history of Galt, Hespeler, Preston and Blair. You can also find the Cambridge Reporter newspaper, scanned from 1990 to 2001.

Historical Evolution of Cambridge
Read how Galt, Hespeler, Preston, and Blair came together to form Cambridge.

Cambridge Heritage
The City of Cambridge has a number of projects and programs to help promote and preserve our local heritage, including our Heritage Conservation Districts and the Heritage Properties Register.

Waterloo Region Generations
A record of the people who once called Waterloo Region their home. Search by name, event, business, building, organization, and place.

Old Ontario Postcards and Digital Archive
Search for "Cambridge Ont" to find rare historical pictures, maps, manuscripts, ephemera, and digitized books from Toronto Public Library's Special Collections.

Digital Archive Ontario
Digital Archive Ontario provides instant access to the 155,000+ historical items digitized by Toronto Public Library, plus librarian blogs and videos with an Ontario focus. No library card required for access.

Canadian County Atlas Digital Project
Explore the Ontario County Atlases, published between 1875 and 1881, through this project from the Rare Books and Special Collections Division of the library at McGill University. Includes a searchable database of property owners’ names appearing on the township maps.

The Portuguese in Cambridge [PDF]
This paper explores the development and significance of the Portuguese community in Cambridge. The author, Karen Dearlove, is a Cambridge native with an interest in the history of her hometown. She holds a PhD in history from McMaster University, is active in local history communities, and is currently Curator at Chiefswood National Historic Site.

Newfoundlanders in Cambridge [PDF]
This paper explores how Cambridge became home to a significant population of expatriate Newfoundlanders. The author, Karen Dearlove, is a Cambridge native with an interest in the history of her hometown. She holds a PhD in history from McMaster University, is active in local history communities, and is currently Curator at Chiefswood National Historic Site.

Facebook Groups
Share your memories with these two Facebook groups: Memories of old Galt, Preston or Hespeler and Preston, Ontario. Post pictures, ask questions of people who have lived our city's history or just enjoy the conversation.

Historic City HallCambridge Archives Local History Resources
The Archives houses most of the local history resources for our area. They are located at
46 Dickson Street, 2nd Floor Cambridge, ON
519.740.4680, ext.4621
Open 8:30am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday


Waterloo Historical SocietyWaterloo Historical Society
The WHS documents and fosters recognition of the region's unique heritage and encourages heritage preservation. Contact the society at
Grace Schmidt Room, Kitchener Public Library
85 Queen Street North, Kitchener, ON
519.743.0271, ext. 252


Region of Waterloo logoMore Archives in the Region
Find a wealth of local history sites and resources in the Region of Waterloo.