Wilfrid Laurier University dates back to 1911 when it opened its doors as Waterloo Lutheran Seminary. Waterloo was selected as location for the seminary because of the large Lutheran population in Kitchener Waterloo and because the citizens of Waterloo donated the land that was then on the edge of town.
The Waterloo College of Arts was established in 1924 after non-theological courses began being offered in 1914.
Waterloo College became Waterloo Lutheran University in 1959.
When Waterloo Lutheran University became a public university a new name was needed. In 1973, it became Wilfrid Laurier University. There were 94 proposed names, among them were Beaver University, Louis Riel University and Iroquois University of Waterloo. Eventually Wilfred Laurier University was selected in 1973, but not without controversy, as some students at the time charge that Wilfred Laurier was a politician of questionable reputation who had no connection to the school or the region of Waterloo. There has also been speculation over the years that the name was chosen for the University mainly to preserve the initials as WLU. Given the history, that seems unlikely.