The History of Bingemans

 Marshall Bingeman and Erma Shantz were married on January 27th, 1926. Marshall was a farmer, a breeder of dual purpose Shorthorn Cattle, supplied milk to Freeport Hospital, and decided to become a veterinarian. Marshall and Erma moved downtown Kitchener beside the Market where he set up his own Veterinary practice. They also purchased a farm on the west side of Kitchener (Lawrence Ave, Victoria Street area).

1938 was a big year for the Bingemans. The city had passed a by-law that all milk products sold at the Kitchener Farmers Market had to be pasteurized. Marshall had an eye for opportunity and purchased a dairy, calling it Kitchener Dairies Ltd. The dairy was soon moved to 205 King St. E.

One of the three store fronts was converted into a Dairy Bar with 13 stools at the counter. Milk shakes, sodas, ice cream, sundaes, sandwiches, and bacon and eggs were sold.

In 1938, Jonas and Esther Bingeman got a brother – Lawrence.

In 1948 the dairy bar was expanded to a restaurant and added the second store front and a kitchen. Seating was more than doubled with the addition of 6 booths and about 8 more stools. Full meals were served. 1949 saw Jonas graduating from University, and given a challenge. Marshall gave Jonas the opportunity to run the dairy business. Jonas accepted the challenge to prevent the dairy from being sold. Esther joined the company as office manager in 1951 upon graduating from University.
Jonas was a member of the KW Y’s Men’s Club. They always had Monday night dinner meetings. In 1953, after receiving the costs of their roast beef dinners, one of the members suggested that Jonas start cooking their dinner and he could sell the left-overs as roast beef sandwiches the next day. This concept started the Catering Business. By 1956 the Catering
Business had picked up a lot of steam. The Bingemans family had an exclusive contract at the YMCA, and served dinners at many other halls throughout the city.

The Dairy Bar expanded again in 1958, this time taking over the whole front of the building. Everything was gutted, and a brand new restaurant was built.

In 1959, the lower fields of the farm were transformed into a recreation area. Excavation commenced on the swimming pond, and Lawrence joined the family business.

1960 was the year that Bingeman Park Farms Ltd., owned by all the family was incorporated. They opened with the pond, a picnic area, an outdoor concession area, change rooms, and a long dusty road.

After a summer of rainy and cool Sundays, the Lodge was built in the spring of 1961.  The fall of 1962 saw Marshall and Erma letting a group of young people try out roller skating in the Lodge, which worked! It became a regular business.

In 1964 the outdoor rink was built, with a roof being added in the fall. It was almost completed in February of 1965 when Marshall Bingeman passed away. The rink was named Marshall Hall in his memory.

In 1968 Marshall Hall was enlarged by 50% to add new washrooms, a kitchen, and a large common space. Construction was completed in November, just in time for the NDP convention that had been booked. Steven Lewis’ comments about the facilities were the catalyst for construction.

The following year, the Visitor and Convention Bureau of the Kitchener Chamber ofCommerce presented a new festival – the first Oktoberfest was held at Bingemans and the four German Clubs.

The Chalet and Chalet campgrounds were constructed in 1978 to look after the many camping groups that were requesting sites. Camping had become a major draw to this area.

At the Park in 1980, 2 mini golf courses were constructed. They were designed by Mike Milloy, now Gateman Milloy. The following year was a busy construction year at the Park. Two waterslides, an in ground swimming pool and hot tube, Go Kart track, and camping registration kiosk were built. In 1982, 2 speed slides were added.

The first wave pool to open in Canada was built at the Park in 1983. Hamilton’s wave pool at Centennial Park opened a month after. The design and water features of the wave pool at Bingemans’ Park was 20 years ahead of its time.

1985 saw the family purchase two pieces of property that would be of prime importance to the future development of the Park.

Bingemans Commissary was built in 1989 at 40 Shirley Ave. Lawrence renovated a trucking depot to incorporate kitchens, dishwashing room, bakery and sandwich room – each work area with its own refrigeration.

Jonas Bingeman passed away in December of 1993, with Erma Bingeman passing away the following year. In 1994, Mark Bingeman left the Hyatt Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia, to join the family business.

In 2000, The Lodge, now the Embassy Room was completely renovated. The Big Change came in 2002. The road through Bingemans became a reality when Bingemans Centre Drive was constructed.

Spray ‘N’ Play (a water park for kids) was built in 2003, and was visible from the road. Over the next 2 years, the Park saw future growth and development with further updates to Marshall Hall (adding the Heritage Room), a 9 hole executive golf course was added to replace the driving range, the city water and city sewers replaced the well water and septic systems, and FunworX Indoor Playland was built.

A few short years later, FunworX Indoor Playland experienced a significant expansion, Big Splash Water Park expanded with 4 new water slides, and additional courts were added to Beach Volleyball. Most recently, the front of the Embassy Room has been newly renovated, Marshall Hall once again underwent significant renovations, and Big Splash became the home of another 5 huge new water slides.

Bingemans has kept pace, and continues to grow.

One Response to “The History of Bingemans”

  1. JimH says:

    I find it funny that it is 108 reasons. We have owned two houses in Kitchener and both have been house number 108.

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