Waterloo (French pronunciation: [watɛʁlo] ) (Walloon: Waterlô) is a Walloon municipality located in the province of Walloon Brabant, Belgium. On 30 September 2011, Waterloo had a total population of 29,706. The total area is 21.03 km2 (8.12 sq mi) which gives a population density of 1,413 inhabitants per km². Nearly one fifth of the current registered population (5,640 inhabitants) are non-Belgian, many of whom work for institutions or companies in Brussels, a political centre of the European Union. These numbers were released by the municipality of Waterloo. The top five of non-Belgians is as follows: French (1,237 people), Italians (537), British (503), Americans (445) and Swedish (425).
Waterloo: the "Butte du Lion" commemorating the Battle
The placename is of Dutch origin. The first element is most likely water, which should be understood in Waterloo not as "water" but as "wet". The second element is lo(o), an ancient word for "forest" or "clearing in a forest", coming from the Latin words lucus (forest) or lucum (clearing in a forest), cognate with the English place name suffix -ley or independent name Leigh. The early settlement was located on a marshy clearing in the Sonian Forest.
A big estate (around 250 ha) in the Sonian Forest was acquired by the family De Meeus in 1831. Ferdinand De Meeus gave the name Argenteuil to this new acquired property. A first castle was built in 1835 but was destroyed by a fire in 1847. A luxurious castle was re-built in 1856-1858 with very nice gardens around it. The estate remained in the De Meeus family until 1920 when the property was put in an estate company called "Domaine d'Argenteuil" created by the family De Meeus. The castle (with around 20 ha and a farm) was acquired by Carmelites sisters who moved from Uccle to Argenteuil in 1940. After finding out that the castle was not meeting their needs, the Carmelites sisters built a new convent which still exists today at another location in Waterloo and moved out in 1947. The castle was sold to another estate company which sold it to the Belgian Government in 1949. Preparing the site of the Universal exhibition of 1958 in Laeken, Brussels, the Belgian Government moved the French-speaking section of the technical school for girls "École normale ménagère et agricole de l'État" from Laeken to the newly purchased castle of Argenteuil in Waterloo. The first batch of young girls moved in the castle in September 1950. All was done in the castle itself : cooking lessons in the cellars, bedrooms upstairs, etc. Later on, other State schools came on the site and classrooms were built outside the castle. The different school sections were closed or moved to another locations at the end of the 1980s. The "Scandinavian School" established in Rhode-Saint-Genèse purchased the site in 1990 and moved in during 1992.
In 1929, 145 ha of the first estate was sold to an American business man, Mr William Tuck, who built another castle called "Château Bellevue". The property was sold to the Belgian Government in 1949 who used it to host important visitors during the Universal exhibition of 1958. After the marriage of King Baudouin with Queen Fabiola, the previous king Leopold III and his wife Princess Lilian moved out of the castle of Laeken in 1961 and moved in the castle Bellevue which became known as the royal castle of Argenteuil. The castle was occupied by the royal family until 2003 when Princess Lilian died. It was sold to a Belgian business man, Mr Delwart, in 2004.
Another landmark in Waterloo was the Cheval castle built in 1895 and demolished in 1966. It could be seen for miles around Mont-Saint-Jean with its 4 towers and 99 windows. Mr Cheval came from France and established himself in Mont-Saint-Jean in 1861 where he started to manufacture chemical fertilizers in 1875. He made a fortune and gave work to 120 workers during the winter months. The industrialist built a castle to show how he had succeeded but he eventually slept only one night in the castle as he found it too big. He gave it to his only daughter who occupied it with her husband Raymond Demanet until Mr Demanet died in 1962. It was sold because it was too costly to run and it was demolished in 1966. The castle was situated at the crossing between the road Charleroi-Bruxelles and Nivelles-Leuven. The demolition allowed to enlarge the busy crossing. The place where the castle used to stand is now occupied by the restaurant McDonald’s.