“The longer you look back, the farther you can look forward” – Sir Winston Churchill

It is a well-accepted fact that many communities were changed, and even shaped, by the impact of the First World War. From coast to coast, the war claimed the lives of thousands of Canadians, tested the industrial capacity of Canada’s cities, and strained federal and municipal politics. The Waterloo Region was no exception to the sweeping effect of the war upon their unique society. The Canadian Censuses, in 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, and 1911, reveal several trends that indicate that the Waterloo Region had a unique cultural and economic landscape in Southern Ontario. This first section discussed who the people of the Waterloo Region were ethnically, religiously, economically, and politically before the outbreak of the war. In order to understand the events and reactions of those living in the Region during the First World War, it is useful to develop an understanding of the people residing in the Region prior to 1914.