Mary and John Streets, June 2013

Friday, November 16, 2012

St. Louis Catholic School

The future of St. Louis Catholic School, located at the corner of Willow Street and Allen Street, has been a topic of considerable discussion since the City of Waterloo moved to purchase the building from the Separate School Board in early 2012.

As the first Catholic school in Waterloo, St. Louis is located on what was once referred to as the "Allen Street Sand Hill". At the time the hill was seen as having little to offer, and an early century historian mused: "One who looks at the site now can not realize what an unsightly hill it was, nor wonder that many would have preferred another place" (Spetz, 1916, p.181)

The school, which opened in 1891, originally consisted of 2 rooms in the basement of the St. Louis Catholic Church. School lessons were taught to 70 children by the Sisters of Notre Dame who commuted from Kitchener (Berlin) by train until a convent was built beside the church in 1895.

In 1905, a separate 4-room school building was constructed to accommodate the growing number of students. This portion of the building can still be recognized as the yellow brick portion of the school facing Allen Street.  

Click to enlarge.
The original St. Louis School.  The convent is visible at the far right.  Reproduced from the publication 100 Years of Progress in Waterloo County, Canada: Semi-centennial Souvenir 1856-1906.  Image courtesy of the Waterloo Public Library, Ellis Little Room of Local History.

By 1916, the school held 205 pupils and 4 teachers. Further expansion of the school led to the construction of the Willow Street wing in 1923. The date stone for the later wing is visible from the Willow Street fa├žade.

Click to enlarge.
St. Louis School after expansion.  Note how the original Allen Street window bays have been bricked over, and the original entrance has been updated.  Image courtesy of the Waterloo Public Library, Ellis Little Room of Local History.

A number of significant early townspeople attended St. Louis Catholic School. One St. Louis pupil was Edgar Jacob Bauer, son of Aloyes Bauer. Aloyes Bauer founded the nearby Bauer Limited Industries located on King at the corner of Allen Street (now repurposed as a market place at the Bauer Lofts). Edgar Bauer later became president and General Manager of Bauer Limited, and over his lifetime also served for 4 years as a Waterloo Councilor, President of the Waterloo Mutual Fire Insurance Company and President of the Globe Furniture Company.

The school was closed in 1983.

Click to enlarge.
St. Louis School pupils on the church steps in 1927.  Many have been identified.  Can you fill in any missing names?  Bottom row, l to r: Wilbert Bauer, Hubert Dorst, Louis Gies, Edward Hergott, Gerald Boppre, Kenneth Ball, Edward McCormick, Raymond A.J. Bauer, Bill Reinhart.  2nd. row, l to r: Gerry Moser, UNKNOWN, (possibly) Alice Bauer, Helen Hunt OR Cathleen Hauk, UNKNOWN, Virginia Wey, Quentin Dancer, Wilfrid ("Red") Erdel, Vince Oberholtz, Robert Dyer.  3rd. row, l to r: Chris Reitzel, Anne Kuntz, Patsy Lang, Mary Schnietzler, Clara Reidel, Rita-Marie Helm, Vera Reidel, Victoria Pinto.  4th. row, l to r: Evelyn Grey, UNKNOWN, UNKNOWN, Bernice Wingfelder, Marion Hauser, Bernice McErdle, UNKNOWN.  Top row, l to r: UNKNOWN, Delores Montague, Adine Sobisch, Caroline Longo, Eugenia Kuntz, Phyllis Koebel, Lloyd Helm.   Image courtesy of the Waterloo Public Library, Ellis Little Room of Local History; photograph F-10-3.

Click to enlarge.
St. Louis School pupils, no date. 
Can you fill in missing names?  Image courtesy of the Waterloo Public Library, Ellis Little Room of Local History; photograph H-10-2.

Johnston, Mary A.  (1975). The Trail of the Slate: A History of Early Education in Waterloo County, 1802-1912.
Spetz, Theobald. (1916).The Catholic Church in Waterloo County. Catholic Register and Extension,
Wells, Clayton W. (1928). A Historical Sketch of the Town of Waterloo, Ontario. Waterloo Historical Society, pp.22-67.
Waterloo Public Library, Historical Walking Tours,
Waterloo Catholic District School Board, Sir Edgar J. Bauer School website,


  1. Property was used from the late 40's to late fifties as a sports field. The home plate and fence was right where the hydrant is in the picture. A homer over the right field fence was fairly easy. The rest of the field was a soccer field and playground. In the winter,down by the train tracks, the city put in a outdoor rink along with a change shack that had a potbelly stove in to warm up with and we used to dry our wool mitts on. Shack also had a little tuck shop about the size of a closet, where you could buy penny candies etc. We would walk over from the Bridgeport road/Weber street area to play hockey or skate with our friends just about every night. If you were big enough, you had to help clean the rink to play on, and also before you went home, so that an old guy, "Dinty something" could flood the ice, which he did every night here and at Central school and up at Elizabeth Zeigler. Brings a lot of good memories. Howie Pfeiffer

    1. Thanks for this, Howie! It's great info. I may re-post it with the furniture factory article, so people can read about it there, too.

  2. Very interesting! I have a question about one of your sources.

    Any chance you could e-mail me?

    1. Sure. I'm not the author, but I'll do my best to answer you!



Your comments and suggestions are appreciated!