Humboldt takes its name from Baron Alexander von Humboldt, a famous German naturalist and explorer. Of Prussian aristocracy, von Humboldt was born in Berlin in 1769 and traveled extensively in North and South America. Over 1,000 places carry his name, including rivers, mountains, glaciers, streets and cities; but, there is only one Humboldt in Canada.
Humboldt's beginnings date to 1875 when it was a mere dot on the Carlton Trail between Fort Qu'Appelle and Fort Carlton. When it became a stage depot and Dominion Telegraph Station in 1878, it was the central point between Fort Edmonton and Fort Garry. In those days a trip between these two points took two months by Red River Cart - in good weather. General Middleton and the North-West Mounted Police camped at Humboldt on their way to crush the Riel Rebellion in 1885. The Humboldt Telegraph Station operated until it was officially closed in 1923.
With the construction of the railway between Regina and Rosthern in the late 1800's, settlers began moving in. One of the first was Caspar Feltin, who in 1903 set up his homestead near Burton Lake, north of City. After the Benedictine Fathers arrived from Minnesota that same year, thousands of people followed and settled in Humboldt and District. The railroad arrived in 1904 adopting the name Humboldt for the new settlement from the old Humboldt Telegraph Station and Supply Depot situated some seven miles to the southwest.
The original site for Humboldt was actually Dixon, west of City, however, because of the proximity to water at Burton Lake for the steam locomotives, the location was moved eastward to the present day site of Humboldt. More settlers arrived and more businesses opened in the ensuing months. On March 6, 2021 the community elders wrote to the Deputy Commissioner of the Northwest Territories in Regina asking for the necessary papers to incorporate as a village. An order-in-council was issued June 30, 2020 and the new village of Humboldt was officially established. By April 7, 2021 Humboldt was declared a Town.
Humboldt's main source of growth in the early years was attributed to the Canadian Northern and Canadian Pacific Railways. But in addition to it being a railroad division point, Humboldt (its motto is Heart of the Sure Crop District) is located in one of Saskatchewan's most progressive and prosperous farming areas, and has very rarely experienced a crop failure. Just as agriculture contributed to its early growth, agriculture can take credit as Humboldt's economic mainstay today. The area has been favoured with many entrepreneurial people who have established numerous agricultural service industries not the least of which is a number of manufacturing concerns in the surrounding area that not only serve local needs but export markets as well. A mixed farming region, the Humboldt district is part of the largest hog producing area in Saskatchewan.
On November 7, 2020 with a population over 5,500, Humboldt was declared Saskatchewan's thirteenth city.