Humboldt's History

The City of Humboldt is named after Baron Alexander von Humboldt (1769 – 1859), a world famous German scientist and naturalist, who traveled extensively in Central and South America.

The name “Humboldt” was approved in 1875 for the site in the Northwest Territories along the Canadian Pacific Telegraph Line at which a repair station was built (8 km south west of the present city site). The only permanent inhabitants of the area were the telegraph operators, linemen and their families and members of the North West Mounted Police. The station played an integral part in communications for the developing west and in the Métis Resistance of 1885 at Batoche.

Humboldt secured its significance in Canadian history in 1885. With the Métis Resistance led by Louis Riel taking place at Batoche just 100 km north west, Humboldt became the important communication link between Prime Minister John A. Macdonald and his forces in the west. It was also a site of strategic importance. General Middleton arrived in April 1885 with 950 soldiers, established a garrison at the station and used it as his base for scouting operations. At that time, the telegraph line further west was periodically cut, so the Humboldt Station was crucial as the last secure link to the east.

On May 1, 1885, Humboldt became the site of a large supply depot under Maj. Lt.-Colonel G. T. Denison, of the Governor Generals Body Guard. A combined force of approximately 460 men built an elaborate series of entrenchments, which converted the station into a fortified military encampment to protect the supplies. The troops left Humboldt in July 1885.

With the increasing development of western Canada, settlers were arriving in the area at the turn of the century. The history of Humboldt was influenced by the establishment of St. Peter’s Colony by the Benedictine monks.

In search of suitable land to establish a new colony, Father Bruno Doerfler, O.S.B. and businessmen from Minnesota arrived in Winnipeg in 1902 – traveling as far west as Calgary, up to Wetaskiwin, east to Battleford, and arrived in Saskatoon on August 27, after 400 miles by team and wagon.

The businessmen formed the German American Land Company in 1903 and purchased 100,000 acres of the railroad land in the district to sell to settlers who wanted more land than a quarter section. The company enticed German Catholics living in the United States to homestead in St. Peter’s Colony by boasting that there were “churches and schools and German neighbors in the district, which also offers [sic] the best in material matters, the spiritual advice and activity lies in the hands of the Benedictine fathers.”

The Canadian Northern railway provided an essential route to the new community upon its arrival in September 1904. By May 1905, the first of the passenger trains arrived and the district flourished.

The name Humboldt was transferred to the village in 1905 and it became a town in 1907. Humboldt became Saskatchewan’s thirteenth city in November 2000.

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