100 years in Bruderheim story

Situated northeast of Fort Saskatchewan, 47 kms from Edmonton, the town Bruderheim is this year celebrating its centennial. Initially 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 assistance for their fledgling settlement. A restless and determined leader, Rev. Lilge subsequently joined the Lutheran Church, and although some of his fellow colonists followed him in this move, others remained loyal to the Moravian Church. Consequently, both Moravian and Lutheran churches were erected to provide for the spiritual needs of the German-speaking settlers, who by 1896 had also organized the first local school district.

The hamlet of Bruderheim traces its origins to the efforts of a Scotsman and rancher named William Leslie, who in 1892 had taken a homestead at the present town site, also operating a store from his cabin on the Victoria Trail. Recognizing that the new immigrants from Russian Ukraine required services, in 1904 he built a new two storey structure that housed a general store on the main floor and his residence above. Although destroyed by a fire in January 1905 in which Leslie himself tragically perished, the completion of the Canadian Northern Railway line through the district later that same year helped to stimulate the establishment of other businesses and services in close proximity to the tracks, including a post office, bank and a growing number of commercial enterprises. In 1907 Walker School was founded in the rapidly developing trade centre. Expanded and rebuilt a number of times over the years, when it was finally closed in 1980 Walker School was converted for use as a meeting place and a tourist information bureau.

On 29 May 1908 the Lieutenant-Governor issued a proclamation granting Breuderheim village status. Although documents indicate that the spelling Bruderheim began to be used as early as 1911,

The 1950’s saw the discovery of oil in the countryside surrounding Bruderheim, which greatly boosted the local economy. The surge of prosperity gave employment to many, and increased the village population. A volunteer fire department was formed, a curling rink built, and new homes expanded the town-site. As time went by, more services were required and then built.

The spelling of Bruederheim officially changed to BRUDERHEIM, and declared a ‘Town’. We saw rail traffic increased and bus service added, connecting us more with the outside world. One hundred years later, here we are, the same type of diligent workers, some of which are descendants of the original immigrants from 1908. Some are still working to keep this area prosperous with their dedication to the area; many still farming the nearby areas.

Bruderheim now boasts near fifty businesses, some of which are home businesses. The smartly kept downtown core hosts two service stations, located for convenience on the highway running through Town. There is also – a hardware store, a popular restaurant, a grocery store, a hotel, a liquor outlet, a real estate agency, a bank. There are buildings for use to non profit organizations, such as – the active boys and girls club, hair care, library, the elementary school, a sports arena, a beautiful Memorial Centre for special events, a senior center, a lovely seniors apartment building, and the Town office. The two churches that began it all border the East and West sides of down town. They are the Moravian Church, and Bethlehem Lutheran Church, each will welcome you at any time.

There is much pride taken in our downtown, area keeping it attractive to all. Businesses are decorated in style, and many flower planters keep the entire area fresh and inviting. There is a refreshing place to sit and relax which is our beautiful Queen’s Park. Just to the West of central downtown is the great Victoria Trail Recreation Park, which can host all types of sporting events. Adjacent to it – a very nice R.V. Park and campground.

Bruderheim is surrounded by the gorgeous Natural area, just North of Town. Running directly through town is the Beaverhill Creek area, beautifully kept with shrubs and wild flowers. If you have children, we have very clean kept, well provided playgrounds for all ages.

We are served by two major highways, Hwy’s 45 & 15. They give easy access to Edmonton (30 min away) and two other major towns; anywhere within three km to eight km. You may access the industrial sector of heartland, where any type of employment may be found.

We have well planned subdivisions with very beautiful homes suitable to any family. Many of these homes overlook the beautiful surrounding countryside.  The present vision of this popular town is first rate planning for extended growth. It has strong outlooks for the needs of new families, and to serene, tranquil retirement for others, making our town a very desirable place to live.

Come join us! Help us celebrate our 100th anniversary August 29 – 31 long weekend. Bring your family, friends, and all those from 1908 to 2008! When you visit our centennial celebration, look over the entire area. Check out our subdivisions, and see our new homes, then think of the pleasant contented life style with us in the future. Great city living, with a quiet country down home atmosphere, Bruderheim, Home of the Brethren, the Oasis of the Industrial Heartland.

(Respectfully submitted – Audrey Rinas)