A Neighbourhood Profile: Beechwood Park

The nook of stately family homes first developed in Waterloo in the early 1960s still holds its prestige today.

Leaves are falling on Waterloo properties across the city, but perhaps none more so than on the large wooded mature lots in Beechwood Park. The mix of Georgian, Colonial, sprawling bungalows and mid-century modern homes reflect a time when the demand for spacious principal living areas were paired alongside the desire for modern family living. Move-up buyers and Waterloo residents looking for opportunities to stay local and renovate well built homes on exceptional lots continue to fuel the popularity of this well-established community.

The Beechwood neighbourhoods are sometimes grouped together incorrectly, but for identification purposes, I am referring to the homes nestled between Westmount Road (adjacent to the University of Waterloo) and Erb Street. Natural boundaries also exist such as Clair Creek Park and greenbelts that serve as walking trails extending into the Beechwood North neighbourhood.

Initially concepted by Abram Wiebe of Major Holding & Developments Limited, the idea was to develop a strong community feel focusing on new concepts, including home associations. By creating smaller neighbourhoods without through traffic corridors, streets were essentially designed to service residents exclusively. The first few homes were completed in the late '50s and early '60s, with some properties on Longfellow Drive, Browning Place and Tennyson Place comprising of lots over half an acre in size. Dorothy Wiebe, head of Vintage Homes, conceptualized and constructed several of the première builds in the neighbourhood. Worth noting is Mrs. Wiebe's impressive portfolio of several residential builds across the west side of Waterloo.

Although long gone now, the neighbourhood in its primary days included the Wiebe-owned Beechwood Riding Academy with bridle trails that wound through the development. The farm itself was situated on the graveled road just to the west side of Columbia Lake. Several streets within the nearby Beechwood communities have connections to horseback riding and tack (Pommel Gate, Bridle Path Court, etc.).

2018 happens to mark an exciting year for the Beechwood Park Neighbourhood Association as it celebrates 50 years of community spirit. In 1968 the recreation centre on Shakespeare Drive opened. Since the late '80s, the opportunity to purchase an associate membership has been available to the public on limited availability. This practice of associate memberships has recently become more common in the Beechwood neighbourhoods due to covenants requiring mandatory affiliation for residents coming to maturity and expiration in some areas. Associate members enjoy the value of pool and tennis access, while contributing financially to the maintenance and updating of services. As part of the celebrations, a history book about Beechwood Park will be available to purchase by end of year.

The next time you are considering a Sunday drive or stroll around town, a visit to the Beechwood Park is well worth the architectural eye candy, and a perfect way to enjoy the late fall weather in one of Waterloo's gem filled neighbourhoods.

Special thanks to Sheila Wiebe for your valuable insight for this column.