The first settlers in the area that would become known as Hespeler were Mennonites from Pennsylvania, who started arriving to nearby areas in the early 1800’s.
Jacob Hespeler arrived in the area in 1845, and bought 145 acres along the Speed River. The Village of Hespeler was incorporated in 1859 as a result of Jacob’s ambition and the arrival of the Great Western Railway to the area. In 1901, the Village of Hespeler was incorporated into the Town of Hespeler.
The population of Hespeler grew slowly, finally reaching 6,000 in the late 1960’s. Around that time, the provincial government proposed that Hespeler amalgamate with Galt and Preston to form a city, although the idea was not popular at the time. The amalgamation did happen just a few years later, though, when on January 1, 1973 the Town of Hespeler joined the City of Galt, the Town of Preston, and the settlement of Blair to form the City of Cambridge.
Hespeler offers many different recreational activities for its residents. There are many parks, two of the largest being Woodland and Forbes, the latter housing a tennis club. The Johnson Centre, a community centre, is located just across the street from Forbes Park. Its facilities include a swimming pool, sauna, gymnasium, exercise rooms, and areas for local organizations and clubs to meet in.
The Speed River offers various recreational activities, such as canoeing and fishing. There are several trails running throughout Hespeler. The Mill Run Trail, beginning at Sheffield Street, leads through Chilligo Conservation Area and part of the former site of Idylwild Park, to Cambridge’s largest park, Riverside Park, in the town of Preston