Welcome to the WRX Property Group website and blog! Kitchener has German roots dating back to the early nineteenth-century, and over the years, many German-speaking peoples have settled here from different parts of the world.
We’ve been looking at the German heritage clubs that can be found throughout Kitchener; today, our focus will be on the Alpine Club. These clubs serve quite a few purposes in the city – preserving traditions is just one facet of their role.
Let’s find out more!
The Alpine Club is located at 464 Maple Avenue, in Kitchener. It’s in the far northern part of Kitchener, quite close to the border with Waterloo. On- and off-ramps from the Conestoga Parkway (Highway 85) are extremely close to the club – if you’re coming from Waterloo, simply get off at the Lancaster Street West exit; if you’re coming from the south, take the Wellington Street North exit and make your way up Lancaster.
The Alpine Club is quite close to the #6 bus route on the GRT, too – there is a stop nearby on Lancaster Street.
We’ll get into the Alpine Club itself shortly, but first, let’s get to know the people who opened the club. Like the Schwaben Club, the Alpine Club traces its history back to a specific group of German-speakers.
The founders of the Alpine Club are descendants of the Gottscheers. The Gottscheers are German settlers who went to the Gottschee region of Slovenia in the fourteenth-century (Kočevje in Slovene).
They built towns and villages and cultivated the land, and despite their separation from the various German-speaking lands (and the questionably named Holy Roman Empire), they maintained their German traditions and continued speaking in a Bavarian dialect.
The Gottscheer formed bonds with their Slovene neighbours, but after the tumultuous nineteenth- and twentieth-centuries, many Gottscheers ended up moving to the United States of America, and some came to Canada, too. Which leads us to the Alpine Club.
The Alpine Club was opened in 1953 by a group of Gottscheers. They opened their first clubhouse in 1958, and as their numbers slowly grew, so, too, did the clubhouse. In 1963, they held their first Gottscheer reunion, and now Gottscheer clubs in Toronto, Milwaukee, Cleveland, and New York, and the
Alpine Club itself, alternately host reunions to reflect upon and celebrate their shared history.
The Alpine Club presently has over 200 members, and they have several groups (Untergruppen), which we’ll get into shortly. The Alpine Club celebrates their distinct heritage and culture, and they host events throughout the year.
The largest, of course, is Oktoberfest – a time of much singing, dancing, and delicious beverages and cuisine.
Every Oktoberfest, Kitchener-Waterloo verily overflows with mirth and merriment. Oktoberfest, in brief, is an annual German festival that originated in Munich in the nineteenth century; it is associated with traditional music, culture,The Alpine Club was opened in 1953 by a group of Gottscheers.
They opened their first clubhouse in 1958, and as their numbers slowly grew, so, too, did the clubhouse. and of course, German beer. Kitchener-Waterloo has celebrated a city-wide Oktoberfest since the late 1960s, and it’s grown to become the second largest Oktoberfest in the world (second only to Munich).
The German clubs throughout Kitchener each play a major part in keeping the traditions alive, and they serve as primary venues for the revelries. The Alpine Club is one such venue, and it very much keeps the traditions alive.
The Alpine Club can host up to 400 patrons. You’ll find people of all ages here, enjoying the festivities (all people of legal drinking age, that is, except for the Family Days).
Upbeat brass music fills the air, great, German beer flows, and the sumptuous aromas of German cuisine is sure to whet your appetite (the Alpine Club is particularly famous for their apple strudel).
The Alpine Club hosts a variety of events over the year in addition to the Oktoberfest celebrations.
Picnics, showcases of their famous Alpine Dancers, and the crowning of Miss Alpine Club are just three of their additional specialties (as well as Marchtoberfest – perfect for those who can’t wait until October to bust out their lederhosen).
But you can also host your own events here. The Alpine Club’s ample facilities are available for rental.
It’s perfect for both smaller meetings or get-togethers, or larger occasions like wedding receptions. You can contact the Alpine Club for more information using this handy online form (click here) – you can also have a look at the hall itself.
In the pictures, it’s set up for a peach-themed wedding.
The Alpine Dancers and the Alpine Club Ladies’ Group “Edelweiss”
The Alpine Dancers really came into their own in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when they honed their skills and began to attend Gottscheer events in the USA, always wearing traditional uniforms.
A high point for the Alpine Dancer came during Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee in 2002, when the Alpine Dancers represented Canada’s German-speaking population at a special ceremony in Toronto.
The Alpine Dancers are arguably most famous for their recurring performances during Oktoberfest, though – it is during this festival that people flock to Kitchener-Waterloo to see the best of German traditions, and few dancers are better than the Alpine Dancers.
They have won the KW Oktoberfest ‘So You Think You Can Tanz’ dance competition four times since it started in 2008! The Ladies’ Group – Edelweiss – has been part of the Alpine Club since the beginning.
The older generations passed down their knowledge and traditions to their children, and they passed it on to their children, in turn. The ladies host fun events for their members (ages range from 50 to 95) and hold a large meeting every third Thursday of the month, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The Alpine Club’s founders did Kitchener-Waterloo a fine service when they opened their club over half a century ago: the Gottscheer culture is alive and well, and particularly through the Oktoberfest celebrations, and the talented Alpine Dancers, all of the city can share in celebrating it.
Written by Will Kummer