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The naming of Armena and Bardo

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The great waves of immigration in the late 1800s were spurred on by Canada's desire to establish its sovereignty in the west. And they were finally facilitated by the building of a transcontinental railway that could move immigrants from eastern ports to homesteads on the prairies.

Many Scandinavians were among the thousands of Europeans who settled the west, drawn by the promise of free land and a better life.

And, as historian Merrily Aubrey points out, place names such as Armena and Bardo hint at the Scandinavian heritage of the people who settled there.

Armena is a locality, and it's approximately 13 kilometres northwest of Camrose.

From the time of the first settlers, this district had been called Thordenskold, the name of the school district that had been established in 1896.

Peter Thordenskold was a famous sailor in Norway, and the early residents wished to honour him.

The Canadian Northern Railway gave Armena its beginning in 1915, but thought that Thordenskold was too difficult to pronounce and to spell. So local residents wrote to the CNR to choose a name for their little town, and it wasn't long before they received word for the place, that it would be called Armena.

The precise origin of the name isn't known, however, it may have been named after a person. The post office opened in May 1917.

East of Armena, and south of Tofield, is Bardo. People of Norwegian descent began settling here in 1894, after they received word this was a good place to farm.

Most of the original settlers of this community, who immigrated here in the mid-90s, came from Norway via Minnesota, and there's still a considerable amount of Scandinavian settlement in that state.

However, a few years later, a great number of settlers came directly from Bardo, Norway, and that's how it got its name. The first post office here was called Northern, and it ran under that name from March 1898 through December 1904. After 1904, the name changed to Bardo and this post office operated until 1914.

The Canadian Northern Railway established a line through Bardo in 1911. And with that followed further Scandinavian settlement in the area.

On the Heritage Trail, I'm Cheryl Croucher.

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