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Norwegian Settlement

Norwegian Settlement: Norwegian settlers began arriving in Alberta around 1892. Crop failures, overpopulation, and economic crises in Norway had caused unemployment and misery, and a dissatisfied class had arisen with less access to education and other opportunities.

During the nineteenth century, Norwegians had participated heavily in religious and political endeavours - including the pietistic movement inaugurated by Hans Nilson Hauge - which stressed adult education, political activism, and personal piety, and which supported the Lutheran church. Norway could not support these ideals on her own. As a result, many Norwegian families crossed the ocean to North America, the "land of freedom."

Edmund Thompson, one of the first Norwegian settlers to arrive in the west, came to central Alberta in 1893, and persuaded many of his kinsmen to follow his example. He worked for many years as a land guide in the latter part of the 1890s, and actually guided the first residents of Bardo, Alberta to their homestead in 1894. Evan and Ludvik Olstad, brothers from Norway, came to what was to become the village of New Norway with other relatives and friends in 1892. In 1903, a large number of Norwegian settlers began settling in the areas around Olds and Wetaskiwin.

In May of 1904, Ole Bakken built a small store with an upstairs dwelling near Stoney Creek, and by 1905, the new village of Sparling, renamed Camrose in 1955, was beginning to form, with a harness shop, a hotel, and a "Stopping House." Other Norwegian settlers continued to come to Alberta throughout the early part of the twentieth century, and they were buying land to support their growing families. While, according the Census of Canada, there were only 304 Norwegians in the area in 1901, by 1911, there were 5,761 people in the province who had been born in Norway.

For more information on the settlers of Alberta, visit Alberta: Home, Home on the Plains!

Charlie Foss

Charlie Foss

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