Walper History

Following in the footsteps of 119 years of notable visitors, The Walper invites its guests to rediscover the hotel where Eleanor Roosevelt enjoyed breakfast in the courtyard and Louis Armstrong played his trumpet off the King Street balcony. Credited as the original commercial establishment in the town of Berlin, and recognized as the first to have hydropower, guests will be treated to a unique balance of history and modern comfort as they stay, dine, or celebrate in the hotel enjoyed by William Lyon Mackenzie King, Wilfrid Laurier, Pierre Trudeau and nearly every other Canadian Prime Minister. Guests are encouraged to explore the building that housed liquor smuggled by Al Capone and that hid Lady Gaga, the queen of display, who remained unrecognized days into her stay. Visitors will dine in the Ballroom where Lennox Lewis once fought, and relax in suites enjoyed by everyone from Royalty, to leaders in the Arts, Culinary, Cultural, Technological, Financial and Political Realms who have chosen The Walper as their preferred accommodation in the area for nearly 120 years.

The exquisite Victorian Architecture as you see it today has stood at the corner of King and Queen Streets since 1893. Previously built in 1820, the former, two-storey whitewash hotel, which occupied its place featured a balcony that served as a political forum, and was a popular trading post and town gathering place. The hotel was purchased by Curry Walper in 1886 and destroyed by fire in 1892. After the fire, Abel Walper built and renamed The Walper Hotel as you see it now, the result of which has been a recognizable edifice in downtown Kitchener for over a century. This hotel, a landmark of the Region, was initially built at a total cost of $75,000. At the opening in May 1893, guests could have a room, three meals a day, a pitcher of water, gas lamp lighting, a spot to hitch their horse and use of one of the Hotel’s common area bathrooms for just $4.50 per week.

Following 15 years of ownership by the Walper family, the hotel was purchased by Joseph A. Zuber in 1908. After three successful decades, The Zuber family expanded the hotel in 1925, adding The Crystal Ballroom as you see it today and two guest floors. The 5th floor was equipped with running water and additional baths for guests, although the ‘luxury’ of ensuite bathrooms was still a few years away!

The renovation of 1925 also brought a formal dining room and a men’s beverage room into the property. It was these additions that would lead to the proclamation by MacLean’s and Readers Digest in the 1960’s that The Walper was one of the finest Hotel and Dining Rooms in the nation and indeed the continent. It was in the Baroque dining room, under the supervision of Chef Edward Ruppe and the constant presence of Joseph Zuber III, that legendary Liberace, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, renowned entertainer Bob Hope, The Queen Mother, Duke Ellington, Marcel Marceau and others walked through the main entrance of the Hotel to be our guest. At the peak of its glory, the Baroque dining room was serving up to 10,000 guests a day, and the line-ups that filled the hall and staircase were a normal fixture in the hotel. Famed for the excellent food, service and surroundings The Walper became THE destination for national and International travellers.

The Walper is now home to over 75 weddings a year and celebrities continue to grace the hallways of the hotel including famed Entertainers, Rita MacNeil, Louie Anderson, David Copperfield, The Amazing Kreskin, The Ten Tenors, Tim Conway, Sarah McLachlan, and Kris Kristofferson. After nearly 120 years the Walper still stands as the landmark hotel in Waterloo region and guests continue to enjoy the rich architectural details of a time gone by and the attentive, warm and welcoming service only experience can deliver.

Click here for the extended version of the Walper Hotel history.