An exhibition is a physical experience. Our goal is to create an experience that involves looking, listening, reading, touching, doing, making, watching, thinking, and responding. Region of Waterloo Museums regularly mount feature exhibits for short periods of time. This is a selection of past exhibits curated and created by the Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum, Schneider Haus National Historic Site and McDougall Cottage Historic Site.

Recently Closed Exhibits

Giving Voice: Vocal Ensembles in Waterloo Region
Giving Voice: Vocal Ensembles in Waterloo Region

February 25, 2023 to May 20, 2024
Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum

Inspired by the 100th anniversary of the Grand Philharmonic Choir, Giving Voice celebrates the heritage of local vocal ensembles, their diversity, the communities they inspire, and the power of music across generations.

BEES! Logo with bees crawling on black background

January 27 to April 21, 2024
Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum

Visit BEES! and explore the Big Idea that Bee health and diversity reflect the impact of human actions on the environment. Pollinators, including bees, are responsible for one in every three bites of food humans consume. Despite their indispensable role in the Earth's ecosystem, bee populations have been declining for decades. This immersive and engaging exhibit challenges people's existing knowledge about bees, and shares information that inspires awe and respect for this sophisticated insect.

Resiliency: Shared Stories of Strength & Survival

March 18, 2022 to December 18, 2023
McDougall Cottage

Anchored in the history of the 165-year-old Cottage, located in downtown Cambridge, the exhibit features a multimedia journey of shared personal stories of resiliency and offers resources and strategies to help our community bounce back from life’s challenges. 

Ta'rikh: Islamic Cultural Heritage Celebration
October 14 and October 15, 2023
Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum

Celebrate Islamic History Month this October, by experiencing the vibrancy, diversity, and innovation of Islamic cultural heritage! Join us for a two day celebration of Islamic cultural heritage, featuring exhibitors, food, vendors, performances, and speakers!
Arctic Voices

May 12, 2023 to September 17, 2023
Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum

Arctic Voices takes visitors to the fascinating and changing world of the Arctic, through interactive and object-based exhibits and multimedia experiences. Visitors explore the Arctic through the sights, sounds, and voices of this beautiful and changing place. Discover the wildlife, marvel at the landscapes, and meet the people who call the Arctic home.

PAŔDA (Veil)

May 18 to May 22, 2023
Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum

PAŔDA means “veil” or “curtain” and is used to “cover, wrap or hide” in a lot of cultures dating back into the 7th century. The use of the word PAŔDA in the exhibit is a metaphor meant to shed light on the concealing of trauma experienced by South Asian women within their lifetime. 

PAŔDA a visual emotional portrayal of the women who are in the different parts of their trauma journeys.  This is their story captured by the lens of Artist Prachi Rathaur.

Miijim: Traditional Foods of the Lake of the Woods Anishinaabeg

October 5, 2022 to May 22, 2023
Schneider Haus

This augmented exhibit explored specific Anishinaabeg foods by combining knowledge from Iskatewizaagegan #39 Independent First Nation (also known as Shoal Lake #39 First Nation) with handcrafted items by local Anishinaabe artists from First Nations communities in Ontario. Each Nation has its own unique traditions and customs, but many practices are relatable and share similar experiences on the land. 

Dibaajimowin: Stories from this Land

September 23, 2022 to April 16, 2023
Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum

Dibaajimowin highlighted the Indigenous contributions to the history of this land. Contributions often overlooked in favour of the well established settler narrative. A narrative represented in the familiar set of murals painted by Selwyn Dewdney in 1950.

Dibaajimowin invited visitors to recognize how the way they look at things has been shaped. And, offers an opportunity to a look a little closer at the richness and depth of the stories that need to be told.

Black and free poster with text extended to April 2
Black and Free: Art Exhibition

March 25 to April 2, 2023
Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum

The exhibition featured Ontario-based Black artists commissioned to create new artwork that explores the theme of blackness and freedom.

Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museums Past Exhibits 

A Place for Opera

opera displaySeptember 1, 2013 to September 1, 2015
Christie Theatre

This exhibit, located in the Christie Theatre, looks at local opera houses - which were not just for opera performances. Opera houses were first constructed as venues for traditional theatre and they were also used by acrobats and hypnotists, for concerts and vaudeville performances, and later as movie theatres.

Beer! The Exhibit 

beer exhibitJune 19, 2015 to January 3, 2016
Feature Gallery

This exhibit allowed visitors to discover the history of brewing, and the selling and consuming of beer in Canada, with a focus on more than 175 years of brewing tradition in Waterloo Region. 

Waterloo Region has a long history of brewing - and drinking beer! Beer has been a staple of daily life worldwide for thousands of years, and is the drink of choice for many Canadians. 

Whether brewed by a large company, or one of the numerous craft breweries that have opened in Waterloo Region, or even in the home, there is a beer for everyone.

This exhibit explained how beer is made, the impact Prohibition had on the brewing industry, and the evolution of craft breweries.

From public houses to bars, Temperance societies to drinking responsibly - this exhibit explored the cultural and social influences of beer.

Canada and Germany: Partners from Immigration to Innovation

May 25 to September 3, 2018

Woman looking at the exhibit

The Canada and Germany: Partners from Immigration to Innovation exhibit presents historical events over the centuries, inspiring stories of German immigrants, and innovative bilateral research projects and partnerships. This exhibit was curated by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Canada for the purpose of celebrating the 150th anniversary of Canada, as well as the long and positive relationship between the two countries. A unique local display in the exhibit is an interactive Lunar Rover, produced for the Canadian Space Agency and NASA by Ontario Drive & Gear Limited of New Hamburg, Ontario.

Canada and GermanyThe Canada and Germany: Partners from Immigration to Innovation exhibit honours the German-Canadian friendship, from a rich history of immigration to cultural collaborations and innovations. Engaging stories are told through three sections.

Section One: Canada: A Nation of Immigrants – The German Contribution

  • More than three million Canadians report their ethnic origin as German or of German ancestry. The exhibit looks at six major waves of immigration from Germany to Canada.
  • In the late 1700s, many German-speaking Mennonites immigrated to Canada because they were persecuted in Europe for their beliefs and values. Today more than 20 different Mennonite groups exist in Ontario alone.
  • The story of the Hessians outlines how, during the American Revolution, Britain contracted various German states to provide 30,000 auxiliary troops, with 2,400 remaining in Canada after the conflict.
  • Logo with text Germany Partners from Immigration to Innovation Canada 2017In the 1800s, many German immigrants settled in Southern Ontario, and by 1870 Waterloo region was known as Canada’s German Capital. By the 1900s, most of the population in the Waterloo region were made up of descendants of German immigrants.
  • The peak of German immigration to Canada took place in the 50s and 60s, with more than 300,000 Germans entering Canada by way of Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Section Two: From Enemies to Friends

  • Anti-German sentiment reached record heights in Canada during the First World War. Learn the engaging story of how and why the city of Berlin, in Ontario, changed its name to Kitchener in 1916.
  • Read the story of a prisoner of war Kurt Gunzel, held in captivity during World War II.
  • Selected artworks created by German prisoners in captivity in Canada during World War II are represented.
  • Find out about the birth of German Unification that took place in Ottawa in 1990.

Section Three: The Inuit of Labrador and the Germans

  • In 1771, German-speaking missionaries from the Moravian Church arrived in Labrador to establish a settlement among the nomadic population of Inuit. Over time what emerged was a cultural hybrid rooted in Inuit ways of life, but influenced by indigenized European practices.
  • Find out about the little-known story of Abraham Ulrikab and eight Inuit who travelled to Europe in 1880 to introduce Inuit culture to Germany.

City On Edge

Numerous people looking at the City On Edge exhibitJune 24, 2016 to January 8, 2017
Feature Gallery

The City On Edge exhibit tells the story of how and why the city of Berlin changed its name to Kitchener on September 1, 1916, and was on exhibit in 2016, the 100th anniversary of the name change.

This exhibit received Honourable Mention at the 2017 Ontario Museum Association Annual Conference that celebrated the extraordinary accomplishments of museums and museum professionals across Ontario. 

City On Edge showed how a city was pushed to the edge during the First World War - to the point of changing its name from Berlin to Kitchener through a controversial and high tension referendum. Berlin, Ontario - and much of surrounding Waterloo County - was the centre of German culture in Canada in the early 1900s. From the start of the First World War in 1914, residents of the city were questioned for their loyalty to King, country and the allied war effort in Europe. 

City On Edge  was created and produced by the Waterloo Region Museum, with the assistance and support of many organizations and individuals, including:

  • City of Cambridge Archives
  • City of Waterloo Museum
  • Guelph Civic Museum
  • Kitchener Public Library
  • Mennonite Archives of Ontario
  • Museum London
  • University of Waterloo Library - Special Collections
  • Waterloo Centre for German Studies
  • Waterloo Historical Society
  • Waterloo Public Library
  • Wellington County Museum and Archives

And many private collectors and donors. 

City On Edge TALKS Lecture Series:
Berlin to Kitchener and the First World War
Took place Friday, November 11 at 2 p.m.
Speaker: Geoff Hayes, University of Waterloo

Live Theatre Performance Online

At The Crossroads was performed live in the Waterloo Region Museum's Grand Foyer for six performances in June 2016. The play was written, directed and produced by local playwright Stephen W. Young and combines a fictitious who-done-it storyline with the 1916 Berlin to Kitchener name change as a backdrop. 

Watch a performance that took place at Waterloo Region Museum through the link above.

Support for At The Crossroads was generously provided by the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund; City of Kitchener; and the Waterloo Regional Heritage Foundation.   


Anchor for CKCO-TV sitting sitting at a news desk with a backdrop with election 68 written on itNovember 12, 2011 to September 1, 2013
Christie Theatre

On March 1, 1954, the Kitchener-Waterloo Record headline read: "TV Station Goes on Air Here Tonight." The station was assigned the call letters CKCO, which stood for Canada, Kitchener, Central Ontario.  Television technology was so new when CKCO began broadcasting that there were only two stations available to watch locally, and few families even had a TV.

CKCO was founded by Carl A. Pollock, president of local manufacturer Electrohome, in partnership with Kitchener-Waterloo Broadcasting Company, and the US based Famous Players Corporation.

Residents of Southwestern Ontario fondly remember locally produced CKCO shows such as Silver Bar RanchPolka Time with Walter Ostanek, Bowling for Dollars and ProvinceWide.

For many museum visitors, one of the highlights of this exhibit was the "magic mirror" from Romper RoomRomper Room, a franchised educational program, was produced exclusively by CKCO for broadcast across Canada. Generations of children learned, sang and danced along with Miss Wanda, Miss Grace, Miss Betty (Betty Thomson, 1972-1975), Miss Diane (Diane Ippersiel, 1975-1978) or the longest-serving Romper Room teacher in North America - Miss Fran (Fran Pappert, 1978-1992).

Other local children's programs such as Big Al's Ranch PartyOopsy the ClownBig Top Talent, and Camp Cariboo figure prominently in the childhood memories of those who grew up in Waterloo Region and Southwestern Ontario.

Drive-ins Under the Stars 

drive-in exhibitSeptember 1, 2013 to September 1, 2015
Christie Theatre

Local residents can reminisce about the smell of buttered popcorn, mixed with the crackle of a window speaker, and the sight of animated dancing hot dogs - to entice you to visit the drive-in theatre's snack bar - at this exhibit in the Christie Theatre. All this as pyjama-clad children ran from the drive-in movie theatre's playground, through a maze of parked cars, to pile into the family sedan. This was the experience at drive-in movie theatres across North America, beginning in the 1930s, and in Waterloo Region beginning in the 1940s.

Going Places: Past Present Future

ION Train in ExhibitJanuary 28, 2019 to January 5, 2020

Going Places: Past Present Future, a major regional exhibit mounted in celebration of the ION launch, showcases how the people of Waterloo Region have been actively ‘on the move’ by water, road, rail, and air. Featuring immersive experiences and artifacts that will surprise and delight, the exhibition transports visitors through time and into the future.

As the Region has evolved, local modes of transportation have adapted and modernized to meet people’s needs. From canoes to hybrid cars, the Going Places exhibition explores the changes in travel experienced within the Region.

Citizens are affected by transit every day, whether they realize it or not. The evolution of transportation systems in Waterloo Region is closely linked to the growth of the Region itself. Transportation systems – 

guests at Going Placesroads, railways, and public transit – were as important to local residents in the early 1800s as they are today.

This exhibition has been created by the Region of Waterloo Museums’ exhibits team with the assistance of numerous partners and local contributors. Special thanks to all the organizations that helped us create Going Places: Past Present Future.

Region of Waterloo

  • Archives Department
  • Grand River Transit
  • ION - Rapid Transit
  • Region of Waterloo International Airport
  • Transportation Division

person looking at exhibitPartners and Contributors

  • Cambridge Corporate Archives and Records Centre
  • Canadian Automotive Museum
  • Canadian Canoe Museum
  • City of Waterloo Museum
  • Dou Tech Movement Inc.
  • Fashion History Museum
  • Heffner Toyota
  • Kitchener Public Library
  • Marcel Labelle
  • University of Waterloo Library, Special Collections & Archives
  • University of Waterloo, Waterloop Team
  • Waterloo Public Library
  • Waterloo Historical Society
  • Wellesley Township Heritage and Historical Society

Hmong: Refugees from Southeast Asia 

Hmong exhibitNovember 12, 2011 to September 1, 2013
Community Highlight Exhibit

This community highlight exhibit in the main gallery of the Waterloo Region Museum focused on Hmong refugees from Southeast Asia who have settled in Waterloo Region.

The Hmong are an Asian ethnic group that have historically lived in the mountainous regions of Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, and China.  They are a distinct society with their own language and social customs which differ from other people in Asia.

The Lao People's Democratic Republic or Laos is located in Southeast Asia, between the countries of Vietnam and Thailand. It has a population of approximately 6 million people and is one of the world's few Communist countries.

During the Vietnam War, the Hmong in Laos helped the US military block supply routes into North Vietnam. When civil war erupted between the Royal Laotian government and the Communist group Pathet Lao in 1975, the Hmong supported the government forces.  The government was overthrown and Pathet Lao took control of the country.

In retaliation for supporting the former government, Pathet Lao began to single out the Hmong, especially those who had been involved in the military. During this time, Hmong people were arrested for "re-education" or were killed. As a result, approximately 200,000 Hmong fled Laos and went into exile in refugee camps in Thailand in the mid 1970s.

Hmong refugees first began immigrating to Canada in 1979.  The Mennonite Central Committee was involved in relief work in the Thai refugee camps and in sponsorships to Canada. Many local Waterloo Region Mennonite churches provided sponsorship and support once the Hmong settled locally.

Approximately 500 Hmong settled in the Waterloo Region in the early to mid 1980s. Together they formed a network of support and friendship, which include a local Hmong Association and a Hmong heritage language school for their children.


Museum Mysteries 

museum mysteries exhibitMay 31, 2014 to January 4, 2015
Feature Gallery

Museum Mysteries invited families to step into the extraordinary world of mysterious and unique objects from the Waterloo Region Museum collection. 

The Waterloo Region Museum presented its own Wunderkammer or Cabinet of Curiosity - as we assembled some of the more unusual objects in the museum's collection for your enjoyment and wonderment. Learn about Victorians and the odd things they collected. 

Many of the objects on exhibit related to Waterloo Region - they were used here, made here or collected here.  Other objects, some connected to famous people and events in world history, have been collected by the museum since the Waterloo Historical Society first began collecting in 1912.

In this National Public Radio story, first aired in 2009, reporter Bob Mondello explores the history of museums and the "really cool stuff" that we collectively have preserved and exhibited through time.     

The Waterloo Region Museum threw open the doors to the storage rooms and selected some "really cool stuff" for this exhibit. Visitors could decide for themselves... is every story true or not!?

The recommended age for this exhibit was 8 years of age and up.

Ocean Bound! 

Ocean Bound exhibitJanuary 30 to May 10, 2015
Feature Gallery

Ocean Bound! explored the science of watersheds, aquatic animals and oceans. Embarking on a journey through watersheds to see how everyone's actions on land affect our oceans. 

Ocean Bound! invited visitors to learn about watersheds and the ocean, and the aquatic animals and ecosystems that depend on them.

The exhibit showcased local water connections, created in partnership with the Grand River Conservation Authority, Region of Waterloo Water Services, the Waterloo Wellington Children's Groundwater Festival, and the University of Waterloo Earth Science Museum.

These interactive displays offered a great platform to show and educate young people on the impact of water management, to better influence future generations' behaviours and actions. 


SaengerfestNovember 12, 2011 to September 1, 2013
Christie Theatre

In the 1800s more than five million Germans immigrated to North America. While most settled in the United States many came to Waterloo Region bringing their cultural traditions with them.

One such tradition was the celebration of German choral music called the Saengerfest, or singer's festival. These music festivals would last two or three days, and included parades, theatre, picnics, fireworks, grand balls, and of course, concerts.

Between 1871 and 1911 Berlin and Waterloo hosted at least nine Saengerfests and local choirs participated in others hosted by cities across Ontario and the northern United States. During these festivals thousands of visitors would flock to the site of the Saengerfest to take part in the amusements, ease homesickness and celebrate life in their adopted country.

Street Style 

street style exhibitMay 31, 2014 to January 4, 2015
Feature Gallery

Waterloo Region Museum partnered with the Fashion History Museum to present Street Style, an exhibit that explored the connections between the design of women's fashion and architecture over two centuries.

While clothing and shelter are two of humanity's most basic needs they also have been elevated to art forms. Fashion and architectural design often share sources of inspiration as they follow similar paths of production, from conceptual drawings to beautiful and functional creations.

Museum guests were intrigued at the connections made between the construction of buildings and the fabrication of clothing, with objects drawn from both museums' collections, many never before on public exhibition.

Street Style charted the relationship between fashion and architecture in Waterloo County, as it became one of Canada's largest and most important industrial centres in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The recommended age for this exhibit was 11 years of age and up.

Street Style was part of Building Waterloo Region - a festival of architectural design excellence that takes place at art galleries and museums across Waterloo Region in 2014.

Funding for Street Style was provided by the Government of Ontario.

Torn From Home: My Life as a Refugee

torn from home exhibitJune 1, 2013 to September 2, 2013
Feature Gallery

Torn From Home: My Life as a Refugee gave the community an opportunity to gain a firsthand look into the harsh realities faced by refugee children and their families. The exhibit had two components - an exhibit and re-creation of a refugee camp on loan from the Lied Discovery Children's Museum in Las Vegas, accompanied by content developed by the Waterloo Region Museum.

The Waterloo Region Museum explored the history of offering refuge in Waterloo Region and several individual stories by and about refugees who came to the area from the 1800s through the late 1900s.

Waterloo Region is home to a diverse population, including newcomers from a wide variety of countries and experiences. The region supports a higher population of refugees than the Canadian average with approximately 22% of all immigrants settling here being refugees during the time period when Torn From Home was on exhibit.

Many individuals and organizations in Waterloo Region offer support and assistance to refugees adjusting to life in Canada. These agencies and their work was also featured in the exhibit. By showing respect and generosity, Waterloo Region has become a place of refuge for these people.

Trailblazing - Women in Canada since 1867

Poster for the trailblazing exhibit with text Women Trailblazing in Canada since 1867September 22, 2017 to January 7, 2018

Feature Gallery

This exhibit is available for rental to other museums. 

What has it meant to be a woman in Canada throughout its 150 year history? This nationally travelling exhibit, created and toured by the Waterloo Region Museum, explores how women have transformed Canadian politics, work, and everyday life. Trailblazing highlights the experiences of women - mothers, sisters, daughters, partners, and friends - from all walks of Canadian life.

The Trailblazing - Women in Canada since 1867 exhibit was funded in part by the Government of Canada.

Project Partners: Waterloo Region Museum, Department of Canadian Heritage / Museums Assistance Program.

The exhibit was created with assistance from the Advisory Committee of:

  • Dr. Gail Cuthbert Brandt
  • Dr. Kristina Llewellyn
  • Dr. Marlene Epp
  • Nancy Birss
  • Tammy Webster
  • Dr. Wendy Mitchinson

Trailblazing explores 150 years of women's issues in Canada through the themes of Work, Education, Body, Politics, and Violence Against Women. Each thematic area includes historic and contemporary narratives, multi-media presentations, artifacts, and in some cases, hands-on interactives. Learn about the challenges faced by women both historically and today, and discover achievements from across the country.

Highlighted throughout the exhibit are Canadian women who have been "trailblazers" in bringing about social and political change. Come learn about the accomplishments of hundreds of remarkable women. From Hide Hyodo Shimizu (a teacher who organized a school system in British Columbia's Japanese internment camps during the Second World War) to Shelia Watt-Cloutier (Nobel Peace Prize nominee in 2007), their stories will inspire.

The audio-visual bus in Trailblazing was inspired by Cora, the Women's Liberation Bookmobile, which toured Ontario in 1974. Named after prominent Canadian suffragist, E. Cora Hind, the purpose of the bus was to spread literature about women's issues to areas that did not have access to those resources. Our bus will be used as a theatre in the exhibit, showing a video featuring female led protests across the country and through time.

The exhibit includes a hands-on hockey game that features famous Canadian female players from a variety of time periods. From Lady Stanley, who played in the first recorded female hockey game in 1889, to Manon Rhéaume, the first woman to play in an NHL game, Trailblazing also explores the history of women's hockey in Canada. Come see items worn by Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser, on loan to us from the Hockey Hall of Fame. 

One of many stories told in Trailblazing, the Fleck workers' strike occurred in 1978. Women workers at the Fleck Manufacturing plant had endured horrible working conditions and sexual harassment. This strike set a precedent and challenged the labour movement to address the needs of women workers.

Between 1892 and 1969, it was illegal in Canada to advertise, sell, or distribute contraceptives. In 1936, social worker Dorothea Palmer was arrested and charged for distributing birth control information. Her trial captured the nation's attention, and sparked debate about a woman's right to contraception. Come learn more in Trailblazing.

The exhibit also examines work that still needs to be done in the 21st century with respect to women's rights, different experiences based on race, class and ethnicity, and the experiences of the 'everyday' woman.

Trailblazing: Women in Canada since 1867 is created and produced by the Waterloo Region Museum with the assistance and support of private collectors and individuals, and many organizations, including:

  • Alberta Aviation Museum Archives
  • Amnesty International Canada
  • Archives of Manitoba
  • Archives of Ontario
  • Beaton Institute, Cape Breton University
  • Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec
  • Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives
  • Canadian Medical Hall of Fame
  • Canadian Mining Hall of Fame
  • Canadian Press
  • Canadian Ski Museum and Hall of Fame|
  • Canadian Union of Public Employees
  • Canadian War Museum
  • Castle Kilbride National Historic Site
  • City of Cambridge Archives
  • City of Toronto Archives
  • City of Vancouver Archives
  • Dawson City Museum
  • Department of Canadian Heritage/Museums Assistance Program
  • Federated Women's Institutes of Canada
  • Getty Images
  • Glenbow Archives
  • Glenbow Museum
  • Government of Alberta
  • Hockey Hall of Fame
  • House of Commons Collection, Ottawa 
  • Kitchener Public Library
  • Law Society of Upper Canada
  • Legislative Library of New Brunswick
  • Library and Archives Canada
  • McCord Museum
  • McGill University Archives
  • Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • Mount Allison University|
  • Museum of Healthcare at Kingston
  • National Archives of Quebec in Chicoutimi, Société historique du Saguenay
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council
  • Nikkei National Museum
  • NWT Archives
  • Ontario Black History Society
  • Provincial Archives of Alberta
  • Queen's University Archives
  • Rise Up! Feminist Archives
  • Royal BC Museum and Archives
  • Saskatchewan Archives
  • SFU Library Digital Collections/Simon Fraser University
  • The Rooms Provincial Archives Division
  • United Farmers Historical Society
  • University of Saskatchewan
  • University of Saskatchewan Library, University Archives and Special Collections
  • University of Ottawa Archives and Special Collections
  • University of Toronto Archives
  • Veterans Affairs Canada
  • Wilfrid Laurier University Archives and Special Collections
  • Yukon Archives

Unconventional Thinking: Innovation in Waterloo Region 

November 12, 2011 to January 6, 2013
Feature Gallery

Unconventional Thinking: Innovation in Waterloo Region was the first major feature exhibit curated by the Waterloo Region Museum. The opening of Unconventional Thinking coincided with the official opening of the Waterloo Region Museum in November 2011.

The exhibit explored the process of innovation - how an invention gets to market or sometimes fails to get beyond the drawing board - and the many stories of innovation in Waterloo Region. Visitors discovered what makes Waterloo Region a hotbed of innovation. As a community, people living and working in Waterloo Region have developed and embraced innovative ideas including solutions to old problems, high-tech electronics or social programs.

It is this culture of creativity and invention that sets Waterloo Region apart as a centre of innovation in Ontario. From the LeRoy - the first Canadian production automobile, agricultural innovations, to our connection to the Lee-Enfield Rifle, blue box recycling and, of course, the BlackBerry, Waterloo Region has a rich story of innovation that continues to this day.

Schneider Haus National Historic Site Past Exhibits 

Painting with Thread: Reimagining Hand Embroidery

On exhibit September 26, 2020 to December 20, 2020Embroidered jean jacket with a sun and moon with faces on them

Imagine a world beyond the hoop! Hand embroidery is an art form stitchers across the world adore, including our artist in residence, Sarah Godfrey. Sarah's greatest passion is exploring what lies beyond the traditional hoop. While she enjoys creating beautiful wall hangings, her work experiments with different fabric choices and functional pieces like upcycling clothing.

Schneider Haus Artist-in-Residence Sarah Godfrey explords embroidery as a marriage of illustration and fibre art. This exhibit demonstrated her love of nature, colour and whimsy in a collection of hoop art pieces, upcycled garments and paintings/drawings. 

Sophie Drouin Fine Art Mosaics: Storytelling in Stone

Sophie Drouin Mosaic PieceOn exhibit Friday, May 24 to Sunday, September 29, 2019

Sophie Drouin is the 2019 Artist-in-Residence at Schneider Haus National Historic Site. This exhibit showcases her beautiful works of mosaic art. Sophie, an internationally recognized practitioner of this ancient art form, received training in Canada, Italy, France and the United States.

In her mosaic work, she aspires to convey weightlessness and fluidity, and her pieces at times seeming to defy gravity. Her extensive use of many types of stones in particular allows her to play with textures and contrast as well as colour tones and hues.

Pen and Ink: The Life and Art of Nancy-Lou Patterson

Pen and Ink Exhibit

On exhibit February 16 to May 5, 2019

Nancy-Lou Patterson was a professor, writer, curator, scholar, teacher, novelist, poet and champion of the local and Canadian arts community. This retrospective exhibit of her works, donated to the Schneider Haus collection, celebrates her contributions as an artist and patron to her community: the University of Waterloo, local churches, and as a former Folk Artist-in-Residence at Schneider Haus.

Image: Pen and ink drawing, by Nancy-Lou Patterson, used for “A Great Many Tramps We Had Overnight” exhibit,
Schneider Haus, November 1989 to March 1990. 


On exhibit February 13 to April 24, 2016ANIMA ÜRBEM Exhibit

This exhibit featured visual media art by the 2016 Schneider Haus Folk Artist-

in-Residence, James Anthony Usas, who is an artist and filmmaker. 
360 tour of ANIMA ÜRBEM

The exhibit was divided into two sections. The upper gallery features historic photos curated by Usas. These historic photos are of massive fires that took place in Kitchener (Berlin) through the years and give a glimpse into the horror of fire and courage required to fight it. 

The lower gallery featured visual media art Usas created using photos taken during his urban explorations of Kitchener storm water drainage tunnels located near Schneider Haus. The lower gallery also featured two films played in loop. House of the Gathering is an experimental film set in the year 1916 in Berlin (Kitchener) and was created using historic film footage combined with Usas's own photographs and video imagery. The second film is called ANIMA ÜRBEM that looks at the history of fire in Berlin (Kitchener).

Presented as a collection of films and still images drawn from regional history, urban exploration and personal reflection, ANIMA ÜRBEM dissolves collective memory into hypnotic fantasy offering a fragmented yet sublime wandering through fire and water.


Baggage - Carrying On Between Two Worlds

September 3, 2018

Schneider Haus National Historic Site and the Friends of Joseph Schneider Haus extend a warm welcome to Folk Artist-in-Residence Naomi Smith, a First Nations artisan and educator from Neyaashiinigmiing Ontario, who showcases historic beadwork and her own beadwork creations in this fabulous exhibit.

Fire and Steel

On exhibit September 20 to December 24, 2017

Fire and Steel Exhibit

The 2017 Artist-in-Residence is Blacksmith Douglas Morlock who created the Fire and Steel exhibit that showcased the Blacksmith craft, with historical artifacts from the Schneider Haus collection and offers a look at the metal wares of  Berlin/Kitchener. From practical pieces such as utensils and latches, to the ornate designs of Betty Lamps and heart-shaped trivets, detail and craftsmanship is represented in this skilled trade.

This exhibit was supported by the Friends of Schneider Haus.    

From Across Canada

On exhibit February 18 to April 23, 2017From Across Canada poster with text Folk Art Celebrating craftsmanship from across the country

Built in 1816 by Joseph Schneider, the house is the oldest building in Kitchener. When the family home became a living history museum on July 1, 1981, part of its mandate was to collect and preserve the Germanic folk art tradition of the local community.

Throughout the years, this mandate expanded to include folk art from various cultures across the country.

The Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board certifies artifacts as nationally significant in order that they remain protected within Canada, for all Canadians to enjoy. These artifacts are national treasures and cannot be sold or moved outside of the country.

Joseph Schneider Haus is home to several certified national collections.
The folk art collections of Joseph Schneider Haus contain the best in craftsmanship From Across Canada.


Grand National Quilt Show - Oh! Canada Exhibit 

On exhibit May 7 to September 3, 2017 Grand National Quilt Show - Oh! Canada Exhibit

The Grand National for 2017 challenged quilters to create a work of quilt art that captures the essence of their part of Canada - its history, its geography, its cultural diversity, its traditions... reasons for celebrating 150 years of our glorious nation. 

Quilt Photo Artist Acknowledgements:

  1. Braided Channels - St. Elias, Yukon: Maria Oswald, Whitehorse, Yukon, 2017

  2. Caragana Keys by Jaynie Himsl, Weyburn, SK

  3. First Shoes by Birdie McLean, Edmonton, AB

2017 Grand National Quilt Show sponsors

The GN Committee gratefully acknowledges the following sponsors for their support of the 2017 Grand National Quilt Show: OH! CANADA. 

Keepsakes - Ojibway Quillwork

September 3, 2018Quill decorated birch box

An exhibit that featured a remarkable collection of quill-decorated birch boxes that showcase the artistry of the Ojibway.

Quillwork is a uniquely North American decorative art form that Ontario's Ojibway peoples have excelled at for centuries. Schneider Haus is pleased to present the exhibit Keepsakes - Ojibway Quillwork, featuring its collection of Ojibway quill-decorated birch bark boxes, collected by former University of Guelph professor, Dr. Kari Grimstad (1937-2012), during the years 1979 to 2000. This remarkable collection, depicting Ojibway stories, symbols, and spiritual beliefs, showcases the artistry of both known and unknown female quill artists from several Ojibway First Nations, including: 

  • M'Chigeeng First Nation (Manitoulin Island, Ontario)
    Delia Beboning, Josette Debassige, Maime Migwans
  • Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation (Massey, Ontario)
    Celina Abitong, Nancy Abitong, Irene Makadebin, Minn Toulouse
  • Saugeen First Nation (Southampton, Ontario)
    Brenda Besito, Elizabeth Peters
  • Wasauksing First Nation (Parry Sound, Ontario)
    Clara Baker, Bernadette Pangowish, Martha Partridge, Jane Pegahmagabow
  • Wikwemikong Unceded First Nation (Manitoulin Island, Ontario)
    Rea Desmoulin, Rita Francis, Lima Jacko, Connie Pangorish, Jane Pangorish


Heartfelt: Form, Function & Frivolity

On exhibit September to December 24, 2014Heartfelt: Form, Function & Frivolity exhibit

This exhibit explored the work of fibre artist and 2014 Folk Artist-in-Residence Sue Firkser. From functional clothing and hollow form sculpture to decorative arts for the home, Sue's work with wool felting is sure to fascinate.

Reflections of the Natural World

On exhibit February to April, 2015

Laurie Spieker, sitting holding a glasswork piece

Meet Laurie Spieker, Folk Artist-in-Residence 2015. Laurie's life-long interest in glass followed a natural path.

Her youthful appreciation for glass moved her through stained glass and into the warm realm of fused and kiln-formed glass. Her current body of glass art is based on close observations of nature.

Often with camera in hand, she seeks the unnoticed and revels in closely examining the graphic grace and simplicity found in our natural world. 

Still Standing

On exhibit July 1 to October 16, 2016

Black and white photo being held up in front of the current Schneider Haus

The year 2016 marked the 200th anniversary of the construction of Schneider Haus.

We celebrated with an exhibit that showed the techniques that were used to build the Haus, and how they have helped its survival in a constantly changing neighbourhood.

This exhibit showcased rare images, family artifacts, and insight into life at Schneider Haus, a lasting fixture in the downtown core of Kitchener, Ontario.

The Barn Raising Project

On exhibit October 29 to December 24, 2016

The Barn Raising Project poster

Presented by the Huronia Branch of the Ontario Hooking Craft Guild in collaboration with the Simcoe County Museum. Also on exhibit will be rugs from the Region of Waterloo Museums' collections.

The forty rugs that comprise The Barn Raising Project travelling exhibit illustrate the beauty of our rural landscapes across Canada, and share the stories of how these buildings have had an impact on the artists.

"The huge barns are a massive symbol of relentless hard work spanning years to clear land and build upon it, of storing the harvest to feed our families, and in coping with adversity and severe climate by being used to overwinter animals. Most importantly, barns are a symbol of community, for it is impossible to build a massive barn without the help of your neighbours. What we think of as our "community" has undergone change over the last century. It is no longer necessarily our physical neighbours but a patchwork of the communities that we choose to live in, including our rug hooking community."

Marie Turner
Huronia Branch of the
Ontario Hooking Craft Guild

Treasuring History - In Memory of the Blayneys

On exhibit September 20 to December 24, 2017 Treasuring History - In Memory of the Blayneys

Fred Blayney (1919-2017) and Dora Mae Nixon (1927-2015) married in 1953 and purchased a pharmacy in the City of Waterloo. Together, they enjoyed visiting museums and developed a love for antiques.

According to Fred, "finding two coverlets woven by an ancestor really sparked our interest in Canadian textiles. This ancestor, Great, Great Grandfather James Blayney, came to America in 1784. He was a teacher by profession, a weaver of textiles, a tanner and later a farmer. He taught school in Newark, Upper Canada [Niagara-on-the-Lake] in 1797. He and his family moved to Charlotteville Township, Norfolk County in 1816 where he continued weaving all types of textiles until his death in 1849."

The Blayneys were among the first to begin collecting Ontario-made furniture, glass, metals, textiles, and paintings. They attended auctions and antique shows, collecting items that reflected their eclectic tastes and wide-reaching interests.

Schneider Haus National Historic Site is grateful to Fred and Dora Mae for their foresight as collectors and for their generosity in donating to the museum throughout the years.

In total, the Blayneys donated over 120 artifacts to the Schneider Haus collection, including 15 jacquard coverlets that were certified by the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board as a national treasure in 1994. Our exhibit, Treasuring History, highlights a sampling of those coverlets.


Trees of Life

On exhibit February to April, 2015Trees of Life artwork

This exhibit celebrated the coming of spring, Trees are a symbol of renewal and regeneration. This exhibit draws on the Joseph Schneider Haus folk-art collection. 

The Bauman family was originally from Berks County, Pennsylvania, but Joseph was born near Waterloo and farmed outside of St. Jacobs. D. Bauman (1815-1889) drew this pear tree in 1879.

Several bookplates, family records, and pictorial drawings are attributed to Joseph.


October 8, 2021 to September 25, 2022Un/coverings poster with text mennonite and muslim women's heads and hearts

UN/COVERINGS is a multimedia, fashion-based installation that invites visitors to challenge their own biases and stereotypes around religious head coverings.

McDougall Cottage Historic Site Past Exhibits 

More than Haggis and Kilts: How the Scots Shaped Canada

More than haggis and kilts paintingOn exhibit March 6 to August 11, 2019

Since 1621 when a Scottish colony was established in Nova Scotia, Scottish immigrants and their descendants have been involved in all aspects of the development of Canada. From politics and technology to education and place names, Scottish influence can be found throughout the country. Come discover the lasting impact Scots have had on Canadian life – it’s not just bagpipes and tartan!

Fairies, Brownies and Changelings: Scottish Folklore and Legends

On exhibit July 8 to 23, 2017

Faerie House
Mythical and mischievous creatures, Faeries play a prominent and important role in Scottish folklore. There are many kinds of Faeries - some are helpful, some are playful and some are a downright pain in the neck! 

Legend says that if you build a wee Faerie House and leave it in your garden, you might just be lucky enough to attract a kindly garden Faerie to come and live there.

Once again this year, we challenge you to build your own unique Faerie House. The theme of your Faerie House is up to you! You can enter the Challenge as an Individual, Family or Team.

Entries will be judged on the basis of creativity. The most unique and original Faerie Houses will receive wee prizes.

ALL Faerie Houses received were displayed at McDougall Cottage from July 8 to 23. 






Faerie House

2017 Winners by Category

  • Individual - "Finley's Green" by Katie Mundy
  • Family - "The Wishing Well Cottage" by Chris, Karen and Lauryn Everett
  • Child - "Kieran & Sofia's Faerie House" by Kieran Schmidt

Wee Quilt Challenge - The Tartan Trail What the Scots Gave Canada 

On exhibit from April 14 to July 2, 2017

The exhibit featured small quilts that celebrated the Scots enduring influence on Canadian life and culture. Scots are among the first Europeans to establish themselves in Canada and the third largest ethnic group in the country. In the 2011 National Household Survey, approximately 4.7 million Canadians listed themselves as being of Scottish origin. 

For over 200 years, Scots have been involved in Canada's development and have contributed significantly to the culturally energetic, economic success story that is modern Canada. As explorers, educators, businessmen, politicians, writers, architects, athletes, inventors and artists, they have made a large and lasting impact on Canadian culture. 

Wee Quilt Challenge - Auld Lang Syne exhibit

On exhibit to September 23, 2018

Wee Quilt Challenge with four men in tuxedos raising glasses to cheers

After 15 successful years, our Wee Quilt Challenge is drawing to a close with the 2018 Grand Finale Challenge - Auld Lang Syne. Originally a poem, this ancient song was sent by beloved Scottish poet, Robert Burns, to the Scots Musical Museum after he was the first to record it on paper. Auld Lang Syne roughly translates as "for old times' sake" or "days gone by".

Traditionally sung just before midnight on Hogmanay (Scottish New Year's Eve), the song is about preserving old friendships and looking back over the year, giving a sense of belonging and nostalgia. It is widely used to symbolize endings and new beginnings - including farewells, memorials and closings. This year, we challenge quilt artists across Canada and Scotland to create a miniature quilt that evokes the spirit of this much loved song. Wee Quilt Challenge - Auld Lang Syne exhibit or draw it on paper. Auld Lang Syne roughly translates as "for old times' sake" or "days gone by".

Below are some samples of Wee Quilts we received. Visit the Cottage to see the full collection of Wee Quilts.  


We'll Share a Cup of Kindness – Winner of the Sentimentality Award 

  Wee Quilt Challenge of a wine glass on a table

Artist: Irena Baltaduonis, Kitchener, ON  Raw edge appliqué, hand embroidery, hand quilting


Friends Forever  - Winner of the Friends Forever Award

 Wee Quilt Challenge of two silhouettes of people raising glasses

Artist: Beverly Parker, Melancthon, ON Machine quilting, appliqué and piecing


Alas, Farewell – Winner of Best in Show

 Wee Quilt Challenge of a wreath with flowers

Artist: Nancy Wells, Guelph, ON Hand and machine appliqué, machine quilting