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Valhalla

Valhalla is a town in northern Alberta, situated 49 kilometres northwest of Grande Prairie. In Norse mythology, Valhalla is the home of the gods, where Viking heroes went after death. In modern times, the word itself has become a synonym for heaven. Reverend H.N. Ronning, the Lutheran pastor that founded the settlement, suggested the name.

Halvar Ronning was born in Telemark, Norway, in 1862. And his life's work as a missionary took him around the world. In 1880, he came to America to study, where he was ordained a minister in 1887. In 1889, he left for missionary work in China. It was while in that field he met and married Hana Rorin, in 1891. Mrs. Ronning, unfortunately, died in Phin Chin, China, in 1907. With a family of seven, he arrived back in Canada to settle at Bardo, Alberta, in 1908. And there he married Gunhilda Hort, in 1912. Pastor Ronning was the father of Chester Ronning, the Canadian diplomat, who worked for many, many years in China. Not long after his marriage to Gunhilda, Pastor Ronning uprooted his family once again. After working with the Bardo community in the south, Halvar Ronning, at the suggestion of another family heading to the Peace River Country, went north in 1912. He did this to scout-out a territory where a congregation of Norwegians could be supported. The Valhalla post office was established in 1916, and the first postmaster was G.R. Owens - yet another good Scandinavian name.

For more information on place names in Alberta, visit Alberta: Home, Home on the Plains!