The History of the Waterloo Community Arts Centre
On February 11th, 1993, one hundred people gathered
at the Adult Recreation Centre in Waterloo to discuss the formation of
Waterloo Community Arts Centre (WCAC). A proposal was presented to the
City of Waterloo and it was agreed that the WCAC
be given a three year mandate to create a self-supporting art centre in
the Old Button Factory. The arts centre conducts classes,
workshops, members' art shows, art exhibitions and special events.
Annual Report 2011 (pdf)
2013 Board of Directors
Betty Anne Keller-Recreation & Leisure Staff(Ex Officio)
Angela Vieth-Waterloo Councillor(Ex Officio)
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Richard Roschman stowed away on a ship near the end of the Franco-Prussian war to avoid joining the army. Fortunately when the 23-year-old German tool maker announced his presence to the ship’s captain, he agreed to let Roschman work for his passage to Canada. When Roschman arrived in Québec on March 23, 1871, the captain told him to head to Berlin, Ontario where he would find many of his countrymen.
Berlin supported a thriving button industry at the time with five local factories. Roschman began working at the Vogelsang and Shantz Button Factory, one of the first of its kind in Canada, shortly after settling in the area. After learning the trade, Roschman decided to open the first button business in Waterloo in 1878 with partner Daniel Bowman. When his brother Rudolph arrived, he began working there as well, and by 1884 the Roschman brothers were in business together. The Roschmans were just two of thirteen children born in Ulm, Germany, to a prominent soap manufacturing family.
“(Richard Roschman) came to the New World with little capital, but with strong determination and by unfaltering energy and perseverance he has worked his way upward in the business world from a humble financial position to one of affluence.” As the business grew, the Roschmans built a new factory in the late 1880s on what is now Regina Street in Uptown Waterloo. The historic factory has been designated a heritage landmark and is being used by the Waterloo Community Arts Centre. It is generally described as “Mennonite Georgian” and is considered to be an excellent example of a late nineteenth-century industrial building.
more than one hundred men and women were making
everything from buttons
to buckles and cufflinks. A Waterloo woman
who worked at the factory as
a 14-year-old remembers: “It was dirty
work, the shells were brittle and
sandy, I sorted them and put them in baskets, then men carried them away
to be stamped into buttons.
There were a lot of young people working there;
the girls sat at
long tables to sort and grade. I made $5 a week.”
“Passers-by would often see the heaps of shells piled in the factory’s yard. When the discarded shells accumulated to form a large heap, they were hauled away to be used as clean landfill.”
Business was good to Richard and Rudolph for many years;
both of them married and raised
children in the community. They were also actively involved in the
Swedenborgian Church of the New Jerusalem on King Street.
Today the Button Factory is considered one of the finest examples of
late nineteenth century industrial building in the area.
The three storey
building and its tall, equally proportioned rows of windows exude a
classic stateliness and monumental air.
The segmental arches over
and the dental brick work where the wall meets the roof
add to the graceful stature
of the architecture.
Waterloo Community Arts Centre 25 Regina St., South, Waterloo, ON N2J 1R8 Tel: 519.886.4577 Fax: 519.886.4599