The southern part of the KW Area, Ontario, Canada.

Kitchener's main street, King Street, divides the city into an east and west end. (King runs northwest-to-southeast, so east is really northish and west southish.) There is no street elsewhere in the city that really compares to King street in the number of businesses and density that intersects King, so really King Street is the only true "downtown" of Kitchener, unlike Toronto, which has one very large downtown with smaller downtowns surrounding it scattered with residential neighbourhoods.

At the southern-most part of King nearest Cambridge, we have the biggest movie house in the town, a Famous Players Silvercity flanked by a Chapters bookstore and an East Side Mario's. A bit to the north is SportsWorld, a sort of water slide and kiddy rides venue. North of that, King turns into a highway that is the only connection to the rest of Kitchener that can only be passed by car, so really this area of town is more part of Cambridge.

North of this is a small upper middle class part of town called Chicopee, with lots of large, new development houses on large lots. Very few of these houses are "prospect" houses, and all have driveways. The streets are wide and curved, the lawns very Legoland in nature.

Along King in Chicopee are a few rundown businesses lacking clientelle, and very underdeveloped sidewalks. King here is more like a small country road than a main street. Train tracks run parallel to it for a while and the Grand River intersects it near a canoe rental shop.

On the west side of King near Chicopee is Fairview Mall, your standard "the outside does not exist" monstro-mall.

Further along going north, King becomes Weber (because King turns into a highway here) and on the west side we reach a few large strip malls flanked by low-rise townhouse type apartments. You've got your standard suburban shopping fare (though there seem to be very few "chain" stores here), a Chinese buffet, a large single story big box warehouse come reception hall called Bingeman's, a Canadian Tire and a couple "outlets".

On the west side however, is a small enclave of straight rectilinear city-style blocks called Vanier. The city blocks become curved streets as we move to the west, which indicates that Vanier was at one point the start of a city whose development slowed once Kitchener started that then later became a suburb of Kitchener.

Further north, Weber becomes King again and we arrive at the dumpy side of town. Lots of auto shops, stores with little window use. The streets are developed alright, but the businesses are decidedly devoid of clientelle. The streets streaming away from King on either side at this point are rectilinear city style blocks.

Then we reach the Vietnamese part of town. There are lots of Vietnamese eateries, some Chinese food markets and Asian video stores. Interspersed with these are lower end bars, taverns and variously grungy take-out only pizza shops. Again there are very few large chains operating in this area save a Harvey's and a Tim Horton's.

Now we reach the downtown core of Kitchener. Much denser streets than the rest of the city, A low-end bargain shop, lots of niche midrange clothing stores, a few bookstores and CD shops. The odd panhandler and surly shiftless young man spending the last vestiges of his greasy complexioned youth haunting street corners. A few low rise banks affecting the polished glass and marble look. A bus station with more teens with not much to do.

A little more north and we reach a few old factories, one makes shoes, another makes upholstery, a barred computer electronics store with gaudy neon lights advertising corporate also-rans and a bike shop. A small inset strip mall with a couple chains and two Tim Horton's within 60 metres of each other.

At the very edge of Kitchener is Kitchener Collegiate Institute, one of about three high schools if you don't count the equally appealing schools in Cambridge and more north in Waterloo. And "Fresh Market" which is green that used to be "Meat Market" and was once red.

Heading to the west of downtown Kitchener are two other curved-street suburbs called Forest Hill and Forest Heights. Here you will find aptly named streets exhausting every permutation of "Forest" "Glen" "Hill" "Meadow" "Brook" combined with any name of tree. These are, of course, littered with small prospect houses reserved exclusively for use by the lower end labourers in town who get to eek out a mortgage and a white picket fence that measures about four feet long. Sometimes these home owners will be so wildly successful as to own a minivan. Those streets named after actual people seem to be occupied by the kind of scum who put Victorian lights on their stone washed porches and line their floors with the most vile of Scottish tartan patterns.

And no suburban wasteland would be complete without the prerequisite stripmalls and smaller outside-doesn't-exist shopping malls of which there are in abundance.

Kitch"en*er, n.

A kitchen servant; a cook.



© Webster 1913.

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