Preston, Ontario, is one of three towns that make up the larger city of Cambridge, Ontario, with the other two towns being Galt and Hespeler.
Each of these three historic towns is located right beside one another, and the borders between towns would be hard for a newcomer to the area to determine, although each town has their own downtown core.
Cambridge, in turn, is part of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, which also contains Kitchener, and Waterloo, along with several other townships.
The Regional Municipality of Waterloo was dubbed as such in 1973, previously being known as Waterloo Region, and is the 10th largest urban region in Canada, covering 1369 square miles, and with a population around 590 000 as of 2022. It also is the 3rd best area for obtaining full time employment.
To put it into context, Preston has somewhere upwards of 20 000 residents living within its borders, and it is second in population size to neighbouring Galt, which has around 80 000 people, and is a much larger town.
Preston is full of historic homes and buildings, with many dating back over 100 years, and the town sits along the Grand and Speed Rivers, with their joining together being visible if you are hiking the trails of Linear Park.
Is Preston a Good Place to Live?
Preston has the feel of many a small Ontario town, with a downtown core that looks much like it did many years ago, featuring many restaurants, churches, factories, community center, schools, ice rink, doctors, a drug store, grocery, LCBO, convenience stores, and so forth.
It should be reiterated that Preston is only around 20 thousand people, so there aren’t an over abundance of stores in the town, but there are enough that you don’t need to go to the next town over to get things, although you easily could and of course people do that all the time.
There are several schools in Preston as well, such as Preston Public, Preston High, St. Michael’s, and St. Joseph.
The buildings in Preston are, as mentioned, historic, which in one sense means “old”, and in another, means quirky. Some of the old buildings are well maintained, and some are maybe not so much.
That said, there is a certain old-fashioned charm to Preston, without it being too much of a relic, that long-term townspeople obviously like. Things that need updating get updated, for the most part. It is not a glistening city of the future – it is not Palo Alto, California. It is not as much a transitory town, as it is a little bit farther from some of the onramps to the 401 highway than Hespeler or Galt.
Preston has the scenic 252-acre Riverside Park, which is the largest park in the area, which features tennis courts, a soccer pitch, a skateboard park, two playgrounds, many walking trails, picnic areas that can be reserved for various functions, a baseball field, and a huge annual fireworks show you can attend every Canada Day. The Speed River borders on the park, and, year round, the park is a destination for area residents.
Preston also has the distinction of being central to several other surrounding cities and towns, so if you can’t find what you need in Preston, you can quickly go to Galt, Hespeler, Kitchener, or Waterloo. You can also find the small township of Blair right next to Preston.
Toronto is about an hour east of Preston, although, as mentioned, there are onramps up Shantz Hill on the border of Kitchener, or you can drive 5 minutes to the Highway 24 onramp to get on the highway there. The onramp near Conestoga College is also bordering on the outskirts of Preston.
The 401, for that matter, is visible from certain parts of Riverside Park.
Preston Real Estate
Like both Galt, Hespeler, and the Waterloo Region in general, Preston has a variety of homes, old and new, large and small, fancy and modest. Depending on where you are in the town, you will see big old historic homes, or smaller wartime houses. There are even a few oddly placed farms that you might come across, although there are no large tracts of land.
There aren’t many skyrises in Preston, or large condos, but there are a few. There are some new developments sprouting up towards Conestoga College, although Preston is located in a conservation zone, and so the entire rare conservation area is part of Preston, and there is an effort to conserve that land and not have the new “light rail” pass through it.
As it is, Preston is a good place to raise a family and be part of a community. Unlike Galt, which is itself segmented into various “east” and “west” parts of the town, Preston is more or less one place, and feels like a town undivided.
It sees some slight growth in terms of the population and developments, but overall, it retains a very distinct identity which visitors either like or not.
Parts of the downtown core of Preston seem to be up for grabs in terms of commercial real estate, as they are old and in need of a makeover, while the famous Preston Springs Hotel recently was demolished after over 130 years of being a Preston landmark.
In terms of buying a home in Preston, the town definitely sees its share of homes go on the market, either because of the town’s aging population, or because people in the area are coming and going to and from Toronto, which always draws people towards it.
In some sense, Preston is a small town, and has that feeling. However, it is progressive and surrounded by tech startup hubs like Waterloo, and the more “up with the times” Galt, which features the University of Waterloo School of Architecture.
Preston features a modern library, and modern community center in the form of Langs, which sits on the border between Preston and Galt. It also has a giant Costco up in the Sportsworld Park area, which itself features many stores and restaurants.
Because the park in Preston is so large, and surrounded by eco-friendly land, the town does have the feeling of being slightly rural, although for the most part, it is urbanized.
The big plus of Preston is that it is near so many things, like Toronto, like Waterloo, for example, that if Preston isn’t exactly your cup of tea, an argument could easily be made to invest there as it is just so utterly in the middle of it all.
Whether you are shopping residential or commercial, there are some intriguing aspects to Preston you don’t want to miss!