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The Concordia Club originated as the Concordia Male Choir in October, 1873 when Berlin (now Kitchener) had a population of approximately 3,000 people, the majority of whom were of German origin.
The choir quickly became famous for its excellent performances and played a central role in organizing the grand "Sangerfests" which were very popular in this region from the 1870's until the outbreak of WWI.
With the onset of World War I, the activities of Concordia had to be discontinued. However, in 1924 with the impetus provided by a large number of German immigrants to Kitchener, the club was reorganized, and on Feb. 10, 1925 officially incorporated as the "German Club, Kitchener, Ont." The club grew rapidly and branched out to embrace a much wider remit of activities and goals.
On Dec. 15, 1930 a charter in the name of "Concordia Club" was obtained. WWII interrupted operations again but the club was reestablished by its members in 1948, and grew quickly as a result of renewed high levels of German immigration. The club offered an ever increasing range of cultural activities through its growing number of sub-groups.
In 1954 the club purchased premises for the first time at Matlock Gardens at 429 Ottawa St. South in Kitchener, and in 1965 the Concordia Farm was purchased at Baden with a view to providing leisure and recreational facilities for club members. On the night of Nov. 17, 1971 a major fire destroyed most of the club premises. Plans to rebuild were quickly put in place. The new club premises were officially opened by Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau in the same location on Oct. 6, 1972. In 1973 the club celebrated its 100th birthday, and marked this occasion by a week-long itinerary of events including two gala dinner-dances.
Today the Concordia Club is the largest of the German-Canadian Clubs in Kitchener. It strives to preserve German language, customs, and traditions, and serves as a place where old and new Canadians of German descent can meet. Choral music still forms a very important part of Concordia's year-round activities, but the club also offers its members a wide range of other cultural as well as sporting and social activities through its many other subgroups.
The Concordia Club has played a valuable role in promoting the preservation of the German language through its founding of the German Language School Concordia in 1970, and its continued support of the school after it was integrated into the Waterloo County public school system in 1973. The German literary competition introduced by Concordia in 1979, and its donation of scholarships to students of German language in local universities have also played an important role here.
The club also places priority on caring for its aged members, and the club was behind the decision to secure land for a seniors residence for the German-Canadian community in 1983. As a result of the efforts of Concordia the Senioren Haus Concordia Inc. was founded as a separate non-profit corporation with a board of directors comprising representatives from all German clubs in Kitchener. In 1984 the Senioren Haus Concordia was officially opened, and in 1990 the building of a second seniors' residence, Villa Concordia, was completed.
The Concordia Club can also be given credit for introducing a new Oktoberfest concept to the Kitchener-Waterloo area in 1967 when the club proposed that Oktoberfest take the form of a public celebration to be held over several days. Oktoberfest has been celebrated in this fashion ever since. Significantly the Concordia Club has always made donations to charitable organizations from Oktoberfest profits.
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English, J. and K. McLaughlin. Kitchener : An Illustrated History. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1996, p. 43; Festschrift: 10 Jahre = Tenth Anniversary Issue of the German Language School Concordia. Ed.H. Hirmann. Kitchener, Ont.: German Language School Concordia, 1981. pp. 15-16, 20; "Founded as Choir, Concordia Club is 100 Years Old", Kitchener-Waterloo Record, Friday, August 24 1973, sec. 2, p. 15; Leibbrandt, Gottlieb. Jubilums Ausgabe=Centennial Issue, Nachrichten [News], no. 57, Kitchener, Ont : Concordia Club, 1973; Official Documents of Senioren Haus Concordia Inc., Profile of Board of Directors, [198-?]; Satzungen=By-Laws: Concordia Club, Kitchener, Ont. Feb. 17, 1974, p. 1; "A Short History of the Concordia Club" (information sheet.)