The history of Waldheim is founded in many elements: Faith, toil of the land, enterprise, industry and hard work, vision for the future and strong community leadership.
The first recorded settlers came to Waldheim in 1893. They were the Heppners from Manitoba and the Neufelds from South Dakota. The years of 1899 – 1901 brought many homesteaders from both Manitoba and South Dakota. These homesteaders were predominately of Mennonite Faith although there was a group of Seventh Day Adventist and Lutheran families that also homesteaded here. The lovely community of Waldheim, “home in the woods,” began to take shape in this rich farming area of the Saskatchewan Valley.
The First World War (1914 – 1918) and the Russian Revolution (1917) impacted greatly on the history and population growth of Waldheim. Originally one of the Articles of Faith for Mennonites was the opposition to bearing arms. During the First World War, the American Government revoked conscientious objector status, and many Mennonite men of military age, often along with their parents and families settled in the Waldheim area. The Russian Revolution brought severe hardship and persecution to the Mennonites of that country, and as a result, many of them fled to Canada and many also settled in the Waldheim area.
With the development of the first Post Office in 1900, Waldheim officially came into being as a hamlet. Village status was conferred with the arrival of the C.N.R. in 1908 and the steady increase in population. Town status was achieved in 1967, with the population being around 500 people.
In the early years, enterprizing citizens developed many business to meet the needs of ever more people coming into the community. These building years brought a Mail Service/Post Office, Black Smith Shop, Watch Repair Shop, Butcher Shop, a Tin Smith, Cobbler, Barber, Shoe Store, Pool Hall, General Stores, Cafes, Livery Stable and Dray Service, Trucking Business, Hardware Store, Hospital, and a Veterinarian.
Historically, the strength and growth of any community is tied to the hard work and vision of the founding familes. It is the early years that set the stage for success or failure. Waldheim has been blessed in this regard. The “founding fathers” of Waldheim lobbied for the railroad, saw the need for commerce, developed the school and churches, built the roads and sidewalks and later brought the amenities and sevices such as telephone, electricity, gas, water and sewer.
In recounting the history of Waldheim, it is important to remember the details of both language and faith, and their impact on the history and culture of the community. German was the first language and English, second. School work was taught in English, and in the early years this formed its own challenges to students and teachers alike. In spite of, or parhaps because of the language obstacle, Waldheim has consistently turned out students excelling in academics. Music has always been a large part of this community, and it has always been so much richer for the abundance of musical talent throught the area.
Sports has always played a role in the history of Waldheim, and has been an intregal part of the physical and recreational aspect of the lives of the people. Softball, hockey, curling and snowmobiling have all been front and centre. In both softball and hockey the community has turned out its share of stars. Hockey and curling still fill the arena and curling rink during the cold winter months.
Sources: Waldheim Community Profile
Waldheim Remembers the Past