The Town of Bruderheim – 100 Years Young!
Situated northeast of Fort Saskatchewan, 47 kms from Edmonton, the town of Bruderheim is this year celebrating its centennial. Originally known as Bruederheim, or ‘Home of the Brethren,’ the district was heavily settled in 1894 by Moravian German immigrants from the Ukrainian province of Volhynia, then part of Tsarist Russia. The earliest religious services in the community were held in the log cabin of the colony’s founder, Reverend Andreas Lilge, who was responsible for convincing both his poor countrymen to come to Canada and for securing critical financial support for their fledgling settlement. A restless and determined leader, Rev. Lilge and some of his followers soon after joined the Lutheran Church, while others remained loyal to the Moravian Church. Consequently, both Moravian and Lutheran sanctuaries were erected to provide for the spiritual needs of the German-speaking settlers from Russian Ukraine.
The hamlet of Bruderheim traces its beginnings to a pioneering Scotsman and rancher named William Leslie. In 1892 he took out a homestead at the present town site, also operating a store from his cabin on the Victoria Trail. To better serve the needs of the burgeoning population of the district, in 1904 he built a two storey structure that housed a general store on the main floor and his residence above. Tragically, this store was destroyed by a fire that also killed Mr. Leslie in January 1905. Nevertheless, the completion of the Canadian Northern Railway line through the Leslie homestead later that same year prompted other businesses and services to locate themselves nearby, including a post office, bank and a growing number of commercial enterprises. In 1907 Walker School was founded in the rapidly developing trade centre, and helped to educate four generations of area residents before being converted in 1980 for use as a meeting place and a tourist information bureau.
On 29 May 1908 the Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta issued a proclamation granting Breuderheim village status, inaugurating its municipal existence. Interestingly, even though documents indicate that the first ‘e’ began to be dropped from the way Bruderheim was written as early as 1911 and became a common practise by the late 1920s, it was only in 1952 that the village legally changed the spelling of its name.
The discovery of oil in the countryside surrounding Bruderheim in the 1950s greatly boosted the local economy and the size of the village. A volunteer fire department was formed, a curling rink built, and new homes sprang up on the town-site. As time went by more services were added to meet growing demand.
Rail traffic increased and regular bus service was initiated, better connecting Bruderheim with the wider world. One hundred years later, some of the proud descendants of the village founders still live among the hard-working residents of the modern-day town and on the farms in outlying districts.
Bruderheim now boasts nearly fifty businesses, several of which are home-based operations. There are two service stations, conveniently located on Highway 45, which runs parallel to Main Street. There is also a hardware store, a popular restaurant, a grocery store, hotel, liquor outlet, real estate agency and a bank. There are facilities for the use of non-profit organizations such as the active boys and girls club, library, elementary school, as well as a sports arena and a beautiful Memorial Centre for special events. There is also a senior centre and an attractive seniors apartment building. The two churches that began it all continue to border the downtown – the Moravian Church to the east, and Bethlehem Lutheran Church to the west. Each welcome visitors at any time.
Much pride taken in keeping our downtown vibrant and inviting, businesses are decorated in style, and numerous flower planters keep Main Street looking fresh through the summer. Queen’s Park provides a soothing place to sit and relax, while west of the downtown core is the Victoria Trail Recreation Park, suitable for hosting a variety of sporting events. Adjacent to it there is an R.V. Park and campground.
Close by Bruderheim is a scenic Natural Area, situated just north of the town site. Running directly through town is historic Beaverhill Creek, beautifully adorned with shrubs and wild flowers. If you have children, we have very clean and well-maintained playgrounds for all ages.
Bruderheim is served by Hwy’s 45 & 15, giving easy access to Edmonton (30 minutes away) and to neighbouring towns. Of course, we are ideally situated for anyone working in the Industrial Heartland, and offer well planned subdivisions with attractive homes suitable to any family. The town is committed to promoting planned growth into the future, and to creating a desirable place to live for everyone from young families to retirees.
Come join us! Help us celebrate our 100th anniversary August 29 – 31 long weekend. Bring your family, friends, and anyone born between 1908 and 2008! When you take part in our centennial celebrations, be sure to check out our subdivisions and see our new homes. Then think about the great lifestyle that could easily be yours, with all of the amenities of city living in a down home country setting. Thats why we call it Bruderheim, Home of the Brethren – an urban oasis in the Capital City Region’s bustling Industrial Heartland.
By Audrey Rinas with Jars Balan