The time between the 16th and 17th centuries, the area was inhabited by the Iroquoian speaking Attawandaron nation.
Later the Iroquois settled in the lower Grand River Valley (now The County of Brant), and sold parts of the ground which was part of Waterloo Township to Colonel Richard Beasley, a United Empire Loyalist. Another developer was William Dickson who, in 1816, came into one and only owner of 90,000 acres (360 km2) of land along the Grand River that was later to make up North and South Dumfries Townships.
Waterloo County, which since 1973 has been admitted as the Region of Waterloo, falls into three regions: the southern and river lands of North Dumfries Township and Cambridge, the western lands centred on the town of New Hamburg, and the Mennonite farm lands of Wellesley and Woolwich.
The west area and the Mennonite Tract were settled by people of German Pennsylvanian background the largest being the town of Berlin (changed to Kitchener, named for Lord Kitchener, due to anti-German sentiments during World War I).
The southern and river-based areas are largely defined by the Scottish Celtic traditions of their settlers. This tradition is strongly indicated in a string of settlements along the Grand River.
The primary industries of the province in the first three-quarters of the 19th century were agricultural, milling and manufacturing.
The clash for the location of roads and highways, and perhaps more importantly railroads, was furious. Railways were largely developed in the 1850-1870 period, with growth up to the turn of the 20th century.