Greetings! Welcome to the WRX Property Group website and blog. Kitchener is a city with a strong German influence, both historically and in its present day. Throughout the city, and just outside of the border, are five German cultural clubs. Today, we’ll be looking at the Transylvania Club. It’s located in northeast Kitchener, on 41 River Road East (just off of Victoria Street North). This is quite close to the Conestoga Parkway (Highway 7), making it really easy to get to from other parts of Kitchener-Waterloo. Several GRT bus routes run very nearby, as well, including Routes #20 and #34, and most importantly, the iXpress #204. Their main office is located at 248 Stirling Avenue South, which is close to quite a few transit lines (particularly the #3, #8, and #11 bus lines, which run right by it) and the Charles Street Transit Terminal (and thus, several LRT stops). During Oktoberfest, the Transylvania Club’s festivities are held at the Alpine Club, which is located at 464 Maple Avenue in Kitchener. Tickets for the events can be purchased at their River Road office located at 41 River Road East, unit B, in Kitchener.
The Transylvania Club, like most of the other German cultural clubs in Kitchener, traces its history back to a specific group of ethnically German people. In this case, those people are the Transylvania Saxons. Way back in the twelfth-century, German-speaking peoples were invited by King Géza II of what was then Hungary to settle and develop the lands of what is now central Romania. They lived in this region (Transylvania) for centuries, building many towns and villages, recovering after the Mongol invasions of the thirteenth-century, and generally leading dutiful, hardworking lives. Though they developed a new German language dialect, they held onto their old traditions. When huge political and social changes came in the nineteenth-century, and devastating wars in the twentieth-century, many Transylvania Saxons were forced to flee their ancestral homes (between 1900 and 2000, their population there went from over 200 000 to under 20 000). Many Transylvania Saxons came to southern Ontario in the 1950s.
It was in the 1950s that the Transylvania Saxon migrants in Kitchener started work on a new cultural club. Though they had few possessions, they had a deep respect for and appreciation of their cultural identity. In order to preserve their language and traditions, they founded the Transylvania Club of Kitchener in 1951. Over the years, their influence grew, and they were able to build a new clubhouse and finance events and programs year-round. The Transylvania Club participated in their first Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest in 1969. Speaking of which…
Like the other German clubs in Kitchener, the Transylvania Club’s highlight of the year is Oktoberfest. Even when it’s hundreds of days away, the Transylvania Club website has a countdown timer literally counting down the seconds until the next Oktoberfest! Each club has perks, and the Transylvania Club is no different. They really go all out for their Oktoberfest celebrations; it’s no wonder they’ve won the ‘Best in Festin’ award multiple times, as well as several more specific accolades (‘Tastiest Schnitzel,’ ‘Best Large Band – Wildbah,’ ‘Best Sauerkraut,’ and ‘Best Customer Service’ twice). For Oktoberfest, the Transylvania Club and the Stampede Corral take over a large location at 248 Stirling Avenue South (central Kitchener, just south of downtown) and dub it the ‘Transylvania Haus.’ There are a variety of theme nights (including the inaugural ‘Kick-Off Party & Members Night’ and, on the final night of Oktoberfest, an ‘Empty the Keg & Kitchen’ night, which sounds like a thrilling challenge for Oktoberfest enthusiasts). The food available is absolutely delicious (schnitzel or sausage on a bun are tasty and easy to eat, and the apple strudel is incredible), and the entertainment is lively and enjoyable. One of the Transylvania Haus’ most noticeable innovations to the Oktoberfest celebrations is the ‘Ride the Bull’ activity, which involves, as you may have guessed, riding a mechanical bull. Wunderbar!
The Transylvania Club has quite a few active social groups, as well as events throughout the year. First, let’s take a look at the more musical groups. The Ballroom Dance Group, open to youths aged 14-20, consists of an eight-month course in which couples will learn a variety of ballroom dances, including the Viennese waltz and the foxtrot. After the eight months, participants will perform at the Transylvania Club’s annual April meeting and receive certificates. The Youth Dance Group (Jugend Tanzgruppe), for members aged 14-23, perform traditional dances throughout the year. They have two costumes: German outfits, and specifically Transylvanian ones. They’re one of the Transylvania Clubs most active groups (particularly during Oktoberfest), and they’ve performed in multiple countries (including Austria and Germany). The Hofbräu Band is a big, bold, brass band that meets weekly to perfect their range of German tunes. They’ve been running for over 50 years – the Hofbräu Band was at the first Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest! Finally, there is the Transylvania Choir, a group with over 45 members with ages ranging from 20 to over 80. This is another of the Transylvania Club’s earliest groups. They meet weekly (on Monday evenings), and they host annual spring concerts.
As for the Transylvania Club’s less musical groups, there are several options. The Bowling League (Kegelgruppe) runs from September to April (with a banquet in May), and bowls every other Friday at the Towne Bowl bowling alley on Ottawa Street. There are currently fifteen members, and the Alpine Club (another of Kitchener’s German clubs) has bowled with the Transylvania Club since 2010. The Children’s Group (Kindergruppe) is open to boys and girls aged 4-12; they develop friendships and learn about the Transylvania Club’s culture and traditions, including folk songs and crafts. The Seniors Group (Seniorengruppe) has brought senior members together since 1998. The final active group is the Ladies Auxiliary Group (Frauenverein). This group actually predates the Transylvania Club: back in 1932, the Saxon Women’s Organization formed, organizing parties and charities together with local Schwaben women (there is now a Schwaben Club in Kitchener, too). The Ladies Auxiliary Group became part of the Transylvania Club when it opened, and to this day, they host and participate in a wide range of events. There is an annual Ladies Banquet in February, as well as a very popular Ladies Christmas Dinner.
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The Transylvania Club holds events all through the year, and their various groups give members a great way to connect with the community and understand the Transylvania Saxon traditions. It’s a great part of the city – just swing by the Transylvania Haus during Oktoberfest, and you’ll understand.
Written by Will Kummer