Pioneer Days

Today I have a single door.

Just one … but I’d like to think it’s a mighty fine door, even if it is actually an iron gate.

Pioneer Tower 4

It’s the only entrance/exit to the Pioneer Tower located in Kitchener, and the tower is one of the 150 Unusual Things to See in Ontario that The Widow Badass and I went looking for last weekend.

It is a structure built to honour the early German pioneers who came inland to develop the rich farming communities of Southern Ontario. Pioneer TowerEarly in the 1800s, Pennsylvania-German settlers began flooding into the area, and in fact Kitchener was actually called Berlin until 1916 when its name was changed in response to anti-German sentiments during World War I.

This tower was built in 1925, to counterbalance those anti-German sentiments.  There was a wave of German-Canadian nationalism and the tower was to symbolize the significant contributions made by the German-Canadian community in the development of the area.

It stands somewhere between 19 and 22 metres high (depending on what source you read) and is clad in field stone, said to symbolize the hard work of clearing the fields.  It must have been a prominent feature on the landscape at one time, but now finding the tower is a bit of a challenge.  Pioneer Tower 3Urban sprawl has been bloating all communities near Toronto and this tower is now largely hidden as part of a small park in a large subdivision of new homes.  Beside the tower is a tiny graveyard made up of two families from the original founding pioneers in this area.Pioneer Tower 2The design of the tower even includes the small detail of a weather vane on the top in the form of a tiny Conestoga wagon.  It symbolizes the transit of those early pioneers from Pennsylvania, and even the local college is called Conestoga.Pioneer Tower - covered wagon 2Sadly, we weren’t able to climb the tower.  I suspect there was a time when there was no barrier to entry, but now it is by appointment only – and a week’s notice needs to be provided.

Thursday Doors is a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.

 

 

95 comments

  1. Hi Joanne. I love the weather vane. I have a challenge for weather vane photos every Wednesday. I would love it if you could join in one day, feel free to use this weather vane as a link in the comment box.

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  2. Quite a grand door for a little tower. The field stone is attractive. As one of your other readers has mentioned, it is just the sort of tower that one imagines Rapunzel living in. Was there a little garden of rapini at its base?

    Jude

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  3. I like that this tower is very fairy tale like and yet, has historical dates of 1800 and 1925 on either side of the gate door.
    The stonework is spectacular, Joanne! All the extra details make this a mighty fine entry. More does not mean better! 😉

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  4. I love finding things like this, Joanne. I also love the field stone and the weathervane – I need a weathervane. I’m glad you’re digging through the list of thes places, becaus eI enjoy seeing the pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Seriously cool tower — especially the stone cladding. I can’t quite understand building towers as memorials; it always seems a lot of engineering work just for show. I guess there are nice views from the top though.
    I’m definitely more of a memorial garden or water-feature sort of person (basically anything at ground level).
    Hope you do make the required appointment and climb to the top one day 🙂

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    • The part that bothers me the most is that apparently this German community suffered a lot of abuse during this time. Although they had been in the area for a few generations by that point, it didn’t seem to matter. Sadly, it sounds a little too familiar and continues to go on with the next ethnic group that drives paranoia 😕

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  6. I love the door, the tower, and the history lesson! I sure hope that the tower continues to be protected… I can just imagine one of the new residents in the sub-division concerned that it “could” fall at any moment and hurt someone. I hope you get to climb it someday.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The tower is a protected National Historic Site and well it should be. That thing is pretty sturdy – I doubt it’s going anywhere 😉
      Once upon a time I would have been fussed about not being able to climb it. Now, because I’m managed to climb so many structures, I was ok with this one.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What a gorgeous structure, Joanne. I do love the door but, more, the fieldstones and the meaning behind their use. The weather vane is an inspired touch. You’re doing a great job of noticing the little details. I appreciate you bringing them to our attention.

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    • I wish I could take credit for it. The truth is that it would never occur to me that there is a story behind all the details until I read about it. It makes it all that much more fascinating to me 🙂

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    • I tried to stick my camera inside the barrier and shoot up the stairs. It didn’t produce a very meaningful photo. You are right though – it is a very tight spiral staircase inside.

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  8. Hi, Joanne – I need to order myself a copy of that book (150 Unusual Things) and check out what other amazing sites I missed during the 35 years that I lived in Ontario! Thank you again for another wonderful virtual tour. I will definitely keep coming back for more!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s actually a great book. Your comment has me wondering whether there are equivalents in other provinces. I should probably look into that as we start to progress into other provinces.

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    • I would imagine that taming this country in the early years was no small feat. Our history books are full of the antics of the English, Scottish, and French, but other immigrant groups also played a huge part. It’s nice that some of that recognition pops to the surface once in a while.

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    • I’m not really surprised they were preserved. From what I understand, this became a National Heritage Site shortly after it was built.
      It is too bad though that it is not in an open area, easily accessible, without wandering through a rabbit warren of suburban streets.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. A mighty fine door indeed! And an impressive tower. I wish my hometown had a list of “unusual things to see” (or maybe it does and I just need to look properly…)
    Also, I never knew those were called Conestoga wagons. This post has been quite educational 😉

    Liked by 2 people

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