Galt is the largest third of three towns that merged to form what we know today as The City of Cambridge, Ontario, which has a total population of approximately 139 000 people, as of 2022.
Being the biggest in terms of land and population, Galt makes up more than a third of Cambridge’s total population.
The other two communities that make up Cambridge, aside from Galt, are Hespeler and Preston, with these towns all bordering on one another.
It’s quite a unique situation in terms of civic planning.
For example, if you are driving through Galt, you will eventually, at some point, enter either Preston or Hespeler, depending on which way you are going, while being in Cambridge the entire time.
Surrounding townships include the township of Brant, North Dumfries, St. George, Brantford, Blair (also part of Cambridge), Puslinch, Doon, and Breslau.
As a town, Galt was incorporated in 1915, and has been growing ever since. These days, it is a highly developed area with a large mall (The Cambridge Centre), many big box stores, many restaurants, and a very historic and scenic downtown core featuring one of the most picturesque views of the Grand River found anywhere.
Part of the reason that Galt is located where it is, is because of the confluence of two rivers; the Speed, and the Grand. The land was purchased from Iroquois and Six Nations peoples around 1816, by Joseph Brant and William Dickson.
Many movie crews often stop by Galt to film popular television shows like The Handmaid’s Tale, several horror movies, and many period pieces.
There is also a university in the downtown area; that being the University of Waterloo’s architecture department, who have their own building and art gallery. As such, many students populate the area as well.
That said, Galt is mainly a working class town with many factories that operate in the area. From sunrise until sunset, it is a busy hub of activity.
Galt has its own transit system, Cambridge Transit, which it shares with Hespeler and Preston, and it has Cambridge Memorial Hospital within its borders.
On a larger scale, Cambridge is part of another trifecta of cities that make up the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, those being Kitchener, Waterloo, and the aforementioned Cambridge, which makes up the 10th largest metropolitan area in Canada.
Before Cambridge was Cambridge, Galt, Preston, and Hespeler used to exist independently of each other, until it was decided to amalgamate them in 1973, to streamline services in the area.
New developments continue to spring up in Galt, as it is right alongside one of the main traffic arteries for Ontario, the 401 highway, making it a desirable place to live if one were to commute to Toronto, which is about an hour away.
Is Galt a Good Place to Live?
Those who live in Galt who like living in Galt can point to many things that are great about Galt. For example, it’s a very pretty town.
In fact, here’s a video that talks about Galt being the “prettiest” downtown in Ontario. That said, others would claim that nearby Paris has also received such accolades, as it is also very pretty. Which one is the absolutely most adorable town?
That’s hard to say, but do take a look here:
So what makes Galt a pretty town?
There is the Grand River, for starters, which people like to canoe and paddle down when the weather is nice, which is for maybe 7 months out of the year.
There are also trails along the river to walk and ride your bike, and during the summer, the river is a popular place to go, with river access points all along the river.
Galt also has a couple of very tall historic churches, which are quite recognizable, and make Galt’s downtown area aesthetically what it is, although the skyline is starting to see some competition with condos going up in recent times that do dominate the view at times.
Many people take advantage of the winter weather and go skiing in the area, ice skating, play hockey, and do other winter activities.
In Canada, winter can be relatively harsh, so one can’t fault Galt for being particularly snowy.
There is really no way around the roads of Galt being somewhat difficult in the winter, although city road crews are as good as one could reasonably expect. This would be the same for Preston and Hespeler, as well.
Galt also arguably is very beautiful through the holiday season, as the town likes to maximize its use of Christmas decorations, with lights and wreaths often adorning many streetlights around town.
The fountain that is near the public library downtown Galt is replaced by a beautiful large festive tree during the holidays, and every year it is given a different set of holiday lights which serve to add atmosphere to the immediate downtown core.
Many people love downtown Galt for its commercial charm, as there are stores which have been there for decades, and of course the famous Galt Farmers Market, which people flock to on weekends to get fresh meat, cheese, and produce, and enjoy a sense of community.
In terms of schools, and transportation, Galt has many schools, including primary, junior high, and high schools that are located throughout the town, and a bus system that is always running, rain or shine. One could say that Galt has a fairly developed infrastructure that is either equal to, or somewhat more progressive than some other towns.
The “Front Hespeler Highway”, also known as Highway 24, is where most people go to eat and shop, as many grocery stores, clothing stores, and various restaurants, as well as home stores, are located along this strip.
Some might suggest that the Highway 24 strip is always busy, and a relatively frustrating area to pass through, as it is the main artery of the town, but someone else might say that this is where most of the economy of Galt is located, and it’s thriving most of the time, and so it’s tough to argue that the most commercially viable section of town would be a bad thing.
So, to recap, is Galt a good place to live, overall? Many people would argue that it is, and that’s why many people who move to Galt choose to settle here, and make a family, and a life. It is far from a completely transitory town.
Some have even compared Galt to old time-y Europe, which you can read more about here.
Economy & Employment
When it comes to Galt’s economy, it’s important to reiterate that Galt is a town over 100 years old, and so its economy has been developing since the beginning.
Many businesses in Galt are very old, having been there for decades, from different sized industrial plants and factories, to any kind of business you can imagine. Businesses come and go, as with most local economies, but many Galt businesses have stood the test of time and are locally owned, family-run businesses.
A lot of the businesses in Galt are forward-thinking, as Galt is close to Waterloo, Ontario, which is another part of the KW region, and a tech hub and startup incubator that features known innovators like Google and Shopify, among others. Galt, similarly, has a lot of startups, and tech companies as well.
That isn’t to say Galt is an overly “tech-y” town – it is a mostly blue collar town where folks get up at the crack of dawn and head to work, and then return home at 5pm – but Galt does have a wide variety of businesses of all kinds, with some being rather old fashioned, and some being very new and cutting edge for their field.
Things To Do
Galt is a very scenic town, and there is lots to do if you like being outdoors, such as bike or walk on trails, go camping or fishing at nearby conservation areas (Pinehurst, Valens, Grand River, Speed River, Columbia Lake), or visit the various parks around town which are a great place to take children to blow off steam.
If you like shopping, whether it be second hand (Value Village, various thrift and antique stores) or the latest and greatest (Cambridge Centre Mall, Fairview Park Mall, Conestoga Mall, St. Jacob’s Farmers Market, hundreds of stores / boutiques in and around the area), the people of Galt have a wide variety of places to go to get food (restaurants, grocery), clothes, car parts (Canadian Tire, custom auto shops), wood for home projects (Home Depot, Rona, Turkstra Lumber), or anything you can think of really, where they can go to get whatever they want or need.
If shopping locally isn’t exciting enough or becomes a bit mundane, Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph, and Greater Toronto, London, Brantford, Stratford, Hamilton, or even immediate neighbours Preston and Hespeler are just a quick car or bus ride away, offering further shopping adventures, or ways to go sight-seeing.
In fact, Galt is a very central spot when it comes to day trips to any number of places or events that happen annually or even more frequently. Oktoberfest, Blues Fest, and Rib Fest in Kitchener happen annually, and Waterloo has jazz fest and sporting events related to the two universities there, Wilfrid Laurier and the University of Waterloo. Nearby Elmira has the Maple Syrup Festival every winter, which is always a big hit as well.
People in Galt are big into music, and Galt sees an annual folk festival down at the river bluffs every year in the summer, and there are venues that host many live musical events in the area, on both a smaller and larger scale, such as Kitchener’s Centre In The Square which sees a lot of international talent drop by regularly.
Galt is very much a sports town as well, and specifically a hockey town, so winter sees a very active hockey game schedule with the Galt Red Wings, whether it be at Dickson Centre or historic Galt Arena Gardens on Shade Street.
In the summer, baseball is also big in Galt, and there are ball diamonds all over town. Rain or shine, sporting events in Galt are happening all the time. Nearby Chicopee ski hill provides a destination for skiers and snowboarders during the winter, and most parks in Galt have a hill or two, where families can go sledding and tobogganing, with Dickson Park being very popular for that. In the summer, there’s Bingeman Park, which has water slides, a wave pool, and other fun attractions for people of all ages to enjoy.
Galt is also just an hour away from the Niagra escarpment, which offers some very scenic hiking trails, not to mention Lake Huron is an hour or two away, which has some of the nicest beaches in Canada, which are favourites during the summertime heat. South of Galt about an hour is lake Erie, which has even more beaches that people flock to every season.
As mentioned earlier, Galt has the confluence of the Speed and Grand Rivers, which provide opportunities to kayak, canoe, and paddleboat down when the weather is nice. There are nature trails all throughout the area, which are well populated on nice days and even on seemingly miserable winter days, where people might get out their snowshoes or cross country skiis.
Everything in Galt is tied together with the Grand River Transit system, featuring buses that weave around the city from morning to late at night, providing those who don’t drive cars for whatever reason to get around town in a timely manner.
Schools in Galt
Here is a list of all of the schools in Galt currently:
Public Elementary Schools
- Avenue Road Public School
- Blair Road Public School
- Centennial Public School
- Central Public School
- Chalmers Street Public School
- Clemens Mill Public School
- Coronation Public School
- Elgin Street Public School
- Grand View Public School
- Hespeler Public School
- Highland Public School
- Hillcrest Public School
- Manchester Public School
- Moffat Creek Public School
- Parkway Public School
- Preston Public School
- Ryerson Public School
- Saginaw Public School
- Silverheights Public School
- Saint Andrew’s Senior Public School
- Stewart Avenue Public School
- Tait Street Public School
- William G. Davis Public School
- Woodland Park Public School
Public Secondary Schools
- Galt Collegiate Institute and Vocational School
- Glenview Park Secondary School
- Jacob Hespeler Secondary School
- Preston High School
- Southwood Secondary School
Catholic Elementary Schools
- Blessed Mother Teresa
- Christ the King
- Holy Spirit
- Our Lady of Fatima
- Saint Anne
- Saint Augustine
- Saint Elizabeth
- Saint Francis
- Saint Gabriel
- Saint Gregory
- Saint Joseph
- Saint Margaret
- Saint Michael
- Saint Peter
- Saint Vincent de Paul
Catholic Secondary Schools
- Monsignor Doyle Catholic Secondary
- Saint Benedict Catholic Secondary
- Saint Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School
French Catholic Schools
- École élémentaire catholique Saint-Noël-Chabanel
- Catholic High School Père-René-de-Galinée
Healthcare Facilities in Galt
- The Cambridge Memorial Hospital
Walk-in clinics and other health services
- Cambridge Walk-in Clinic
- Delta Walk-in Clinic
- Lisaard and Innisfree Hopsice also serves the Cambridge community.
Over the past several years, the Cambridge and North Dumfries Doctor Recruitment Committee has brought new family physicians to our community. These new physicians often take on new patients or hire established physicians wishing to increase their practice.
And there you have it – a brief overview of the wonderful town that is Galt, part of the larger grouping that forms Cambridge, which joins Kitchener and Waterloo to form most of Waterloo Region.
Until next time!