Scandinavian Place Names,
Part Three: Oyen and Standard
In the early part of the 20th century, the south central region of Alberta served as a magnet for Scandinavian settlement.
East of Drumheller, on the way to the Saskatchewan border, is the town of Oyen. According to historian Merrily Aubrey, Oyen got its start as a post office in 1912.
It was named for Andrew Oyen, who arrived in 1909, and he was the first of three brothers from Norway who settled in this area.
Andrew originally immigrated to the United States in 1887, at the age of 17. He visited the Oyen area in 1908 and returned for good the following year.
Andrew's brother Simon emigrated from Norway in 1911 with his three children and settled on a homestead three miles northeast of Oyen. Brother Melcor accompanied Andrew to the United States, but later returned to Norway to marry.
In 1910 he, his wife, and their son emigrated to Saskatchewan. And the following year he too moved to a farm just northeast of Oyen. So they were all reunited in one spot.
The village of Oyen was built on Andrew's land. He was well-known and highly esteemed as one who never turned a wayfarer from his door.
The community of Oyen continued to prosper and grow, and in 1965, it was incorporated as a town.
West of Oyen is the village of Standard. While the name doesn't sound Scandinavian, the region was populated by immigrants of Danish heritage.
Standard was originally a Danish settlement that had its start in 1909. The Canadian Pacific Railway reserved 21,000 acres of land for that purpose, and in 1910, the first settlers began to arrive from Iowa, North Dakota, and some actually came from Denmark.
It is believed that the first to settle there was Jens Rasmussen, who arrived in the spring of 1910 from Elk Horn, Iowa. Mr. Rasmussen first named the settlement Dana. However, there was already a stop by that name on the CPR line in Saskatchewan, so the post office did not like the idea of having two places with the same name.
The name Standard was therefore suggested, possibly after the flag of Denmark - and it's that particular flag that's the oldest of the European standards, dating back to the 13th century. The post office opened early in 1912, and the CPR, by November of that year, had come into town.
With its new name, Standard was incorporated as a village in 1922.
On the Heritage Trail,
I'm Cheryl Croucher.