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Danish, Settlement

In 1916, accompanied by a crew of 64 men, Jens Munk, the first Dane to reach Canada, sailed into Hudson's Bay in search of the northwest passage to the Orient. Shortly thereafter, he attempted to establish a settlement, Nova Dansk (New Denmark), at what is now Churchill, Manitoba. Of this settlement, only Munk himself and two other crew members survived, while the rest died of scurvy. The three survivors turned back for Denmark.

A more successful Danish settlement was established in New Brunswick in 1872. Danish settlers cleared land in the Saint John River valley to make way for the farming community of New Denmark. Today this area is an agricultural centre producing mixed crops and potatoes.

The first Danish settlers in Alberta arrived at the turn of the century. Like many of the pioneers who moved to the prairies during this period, the Danes were attracted to the area by CPR land agents and an aggressive advertising campaign sponsored by Canadian government.

In 1902, Jens and Harry Larsen travelled to Alberta from Omaha, Nebraska, to see if the advertised area was suitable for Danish settlement. Upon returning, they reported the region to be rich in forests, grazing land and wildlife. The next year, several Danish families moved from Nebraska to settle near Innisfail and Red Deer, ultimately founding the community of Dickson.

In 1910, Danish immigrants from Kimballton-Elkhorn, Iowa founded the community of Standard, occupying a 17,000 acre block of land that the CPR had set aside for them. In 1918, a group of settlers from Michigan migrated to Alberta under the auspices of the Danish Folk Society. They established Dalvin, one of the largest Danish settlements in the province. Subsequent Danish communities were found in Olds, Viking and Ponoka.

Another wave of Danish immigrants arrived in Alberta during the 1920s and then again in the 1950s. Among those arriving in the 1950s were many skilled professionals who tended to settle in the urban centres of the province.

According to the census taken in 1971, there were 20,120 Danish Canadians residing in Alberta. Today, approximately 50,400 Albertans are of Danish origin and most live in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer.

Walter Frantzen, Nanton, Alberta

Walter Frantzen, Nanton, Alberta