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Dickson, Settlement

In the fall of 1902, a number of men living in the Omaha, Nebraska area decided to establish homesteads in Western Canada. An agent from the Canadian government advised the men to settle in Alberta because of the many acres of land available from the Canadian government. As a result of this encounter, the agent set aside a tract of land approximately 22 miles (35.41 kilometres) west of Innisfail for the purpose of the settlement. Two of these men, Henry and Jim Larsen, travelled to Alberta to inspect the prospective homesteads for farming suitability. Once they arrived, they were satisfied with the rich farmland and returned home to Nebraska to organize their departure.

The Danish settlers first move was to organize a congregation of the Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church. Once this was established, the first settlers to leave were Fred Pedersen, John Jensen and Laus Christensen in March 1903; a second group left in June. On July 1, their railcar arrived in Calgary. By the second week of July, the newcomers had pitched their tents, each on their own homestead. By agreement, the families with children occupied one section, so the women could be near one another.

The original settlement of Dickson was composed of 17 Danish individuals. As a result, the Dickson area became the first Danish settlement in Western Canada. The settlers arrived in hopes of owning land and establishing a future for their families. Like most homesteaders, they experienced many hardships. The homesteaders were physically isolated in terms of distance, rough trails, and, to a degree, by their language and religion. Many of the settlers did not speak English and communicated only in Danish. This resulted in the preservation of their Danish heritage, as they did not feel the need to learn English or adjust to Canadian cultural ways of life because they were the only settlers in the area. Also, all religious services were conducted in Danish and as the church was the seat of power and authority in the community, going against the church would create conflict. Yet despite all of their troubles, they worked together to build the small village of Dickson.

Scandinavian Settlers

Scandinavian Settlers

General Store

General Store