The area was originally settled in 1905 by a group of Icelanders. The Canadian Pacific Railway selected the site as a divisional point in 1908. It was named for a community in Durham County, England. The province soon designated Wynyard as a judicial centre for the Touchwood Hills-Quill Lakes area.
The main industry is poultry production and processing. The town also serves as an agricultural service centre for the area. The Quill Lakes, immediately north of Wynyard, cover an area of 500 km2 and are known for bird watching and waterfowl hunting. The Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan established a plant at Big Quill Lake near Wynyard to extract potassium sulphate from the water. The plant is now owned by Compass Minerals.