Mary and John Streets, June 2013

Monday, February 25, 2013

What Was Here?, Part II

Today, Moore Avenue marks the edge of the Mary-Allen neighbourhood.  A century ago it was at the edge of town, and the land there, before it was developed, was put to an interesting and uncommon use...

The previous blog post, Who Were Mary and Allen?, introduced the Moores, whose name was given to Moore Avenue, and whose home stood at Union and Mary Streets in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  (Some information and images in this post come from Laura Wilford’s excellent Moore genealogy, located at the Kitchener Public Library: Moore Lineage of North Dumfries Township: Unto This Land They Came.)
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The George and Mary Moore family home stood on a large lot near the corner of Union and Mary Streets.  Today, the site is occupied by the Richelieu Apartments.  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; photograph F-5-13.

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The family of George and Mary Moore, c. 1886-87.  The children are, left to right, Bella, Agnes Georgina and Robert.  Image courtesy of Laura Wilford.

Born on the Moore family farmstead in North Dumfries Township in 1845, George Douglas Moore had moved to Waterloo by the early 1870s. He married Mary Barrie in 1875, and by 1880 they had three children: Bella, Agnes Georgina, and Robert. Mary died suddenly in 1888, and George never remarried.

George Moore grew hops on part of the 150 acres he owned east of the Grand Trunk Railway tracks in the vicinity of today’s Union Street and Moore Avenue, at the edge of the Mary-Allen neighbourhood. Hop flowers, or “cones”, are a key ingredient in beer.

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Near the center of this 1881 map, the Moore lands are clearly labeled east of the town of Waterloo (to the right of the line “Waterloo Branch of G.T.R.”). Part of the Waterloo Township map from the Illustrated Atlas of the County of Waterloo by H. Parsell & Co.

By the turn of the century George Moore had about seventy acres of “hop yards”, which one contemporary source described as “the largest hop fields of the Dominion”, growing at the edge of Waterloo.  There were several breweries in town in the late 1800s, including Kuntz's Park Brewery at William and Caroline Streets (a few blocks from the hop yards at the opposite edge of the Mary-Allen neighbourhood), and these breweries provided a market for the Moore hops.   
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An idealized illustration of the Kuntz Park Brewery, on William Street between King and Caroline Streets – a short distance from George Moore’s Waterloo hop yards.  Local breweries provided a good market for Moore’s locally grown hops, and a brewery operated at the Kuntz site for almost 130 years beginning in the 1850s.  Image courtesy of the Waterloo Public Library, Ellis Little Room of Local History; photograph P43; H-7-9.

Hops were, and still are, an uncommon crop in Ontario.  However, in the late 1800s and very early 1900s George’s brother John also owned hop yards, in Preston, at the southern edge of Waterloo Township.  The large Preston hop yards covered a considerable acreage in the southwest end of town, and stretched down to the banks of the Grand and Speed Rivers, continuing on the opposite bank.  Today, the names of Preston’s Moore and Vine Streets commemorate the hop yards, and also mark their former location. 

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According to the City of Cambridge, two hop growers from New York State, Abbey and Risley, established hop yards in the southwest end of Preston in the 1860s.  John Moore, George’s brother, owned the Preston hop yards by the 1880s.  In this undated photograph of the Preston yards, First Nations farm labourers from the Brantford area are seen raising rows of poles to support the hop plants (the tall hop “vines” are grown vertically).  Hundreds of First Nations labourers came to Preston and Waterloo every year to work in the hop yards.  Image courtesy of Laura Wilford.

There were anecdotal reports as recently as the 1990s of self-seeded hops occasionally being found growing near Preston’s Bob McMullen Linear Trail that runs along the riverbank, almost a hundred years after hop cultivation in the area.

Back to Waterloo.  In the later decades of the 1800s, just a block down Union Street from the George Moore family home, stood Moore’s three hop kilns, conjoined in a T-shaped floor plan.   Today, rowhouse apartments ("Union Lane" at 43 Union Street East) occupy the former hop kiln site. 

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Part of the c. 1895 birds-eye view of the town of Waterloo (looking west) clearly shows the Moores’ three attached hop kilns on Union Street, at the end of Herbert Street, each with its four-sided pyramidal roof topped by a ventilation “cowl”.  Is that a hop yard to their right?  Image courtesy of the Waterloo Municipal Heritage Committee.

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A section from the 1908-1913 fire insurance map of Waterloo includes the Moore hop kilns (blue arrow), built in a T-shaped plan, and the Moore family home (red arrow) one block away.  Image courtesy of the Waterloo Public Library, Ellis Little Room of Local History.  

Hop kilns, called "oast houses" in Great Britain (hops were once widely grown in the county of Kent), are buildings in which hops are dried in preparation for the beer brewing process.  Hops were picked in late summer, and then spread onto racks in the upper level of a hop kiln.  A fire, which dried the hops, was made on the floor below.  

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This photograph of hop kilns, with what appear to be hop poles in the foreground and tall hop vines growing in the background, is in the collection of the Waterloo Region Museum.  "D. L. Bowman hop yards" is written on the reverse.  The location, date and provenance of the photo are not known, but since it was donated to the forerunner of the museum in the 1960s it may be a local scene.  Also, in the late 1800s, a D. L. Bowman lived in Waterloo.  He was a hotel keeper in the early 1870s, probably at the Bowman House hotel (where the Waterloo Hotel stands today) established by his father.  In 1878 he and Richard Roschman founded a button manufacturing business in Waterloo.  Was he the same D. L. Bowman associated with the hop yards, and were Bowman’s hop yards in any way associated with Moore’s?  Image courtesy of the Waterloo Region Museum; photograph 968.126.024.003.

Hops may have been planted fairly close to the Moore kilns; the 1901 Waterloo street directory indicated “hop yards” at Union and Bowman Streets.  The same year, the Waterloo Chronicle-Telegraph of August 29 briefly mentioned that “Hop picking in Geo. Moore’s hop fields will begin tomorrow.”

On his farm, in addition to growing hops, George Moore bred livestock, including award-winning work horses.  He was also active in Waterloo commerce and politics.  His other business involvements included dealing in produce and eggs, selling farm machinery, and managing several manufacturing businesses.  Moore served as a Waterloo town councillor, as reeve of the town, and as its mayor in 1884 and 1890.   During his second mayoral term he was heavily involved in creating the town’s first board of trade, and also in buying the farmland that would become the West Side Park (Waterloo Park). 

Around 1911, George Moore retired to Galt.  Just as he never remarried after the death of his wife, his daughter Bella never married, and she cared for her father until his death in 1916.

According to Preston historian Ray Ruddy, in 1906 the Moore hop fields in Preston were subdivided for house lots.

The Moore hop kilns on Union Street stood through the 1940s, and possibly longer, and were re-used by at least one other business after their hop drying days had long passed.  Readers, do any of you know when they were demolished? 

Hmmm...time for some more research...
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The distinctive T-shape of the old Moore hop kilns (circled) is plainly visible in this 1930 aerial photograph of Waterloo.  Much of the old Moore farmstead, in the upper-right-hand quarter of the image, was still undeveloped in 1930.  As it had in the 1800s, Moore Avenue still marked the far edge of town, and Elizabeth Ziegler Public School had not yet been built.

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A section from the 1942 fire insurance map of Waterloo shows the Moore hop kilns, at centre, still intact many years after they had outlived their intended use.  The old Moore house was also still standing at the time.  Image courtesy of the Waterloo Public Library, Ellis Little Room of Local History.  

Today the Richelieu Apartments stand on the former site of the George Moore family home, at Mary and Union Streets.


  1. Thank you for such a well-researched and fascinating blog! Hops kilns and fields. Who knew?

  2. Interesting post. I would be interested in knowing when the Richelieu was constructed.

  3. Michelle it's a classy Modern (Mid-century) building, with an entrance similar to the Waterloo Mutual Fire Ins. office on Erb, or the former county Court on Weber St. I would guess about 1960


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