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The Heritage Trails are presented courtesy of CKUA Radio Network and Cheryl Croucher

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Stephansson House, Part Two

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When the Icelandic poet Stephan G. Stephansson emigrated to Alberta in 1889, he took up a homestead at Markerville, near Red Deer.

According to historian Lisa Mort-Putland, the poet-farmer soon built a house for his growing family.

It started off as a little square room, a little box, as most homestead homes did. It was a tiny little room, probably twenty by twenty, that was divided in two, partly for sleeping and partly for living. Helga, Stephan G. Stephansson's wife, gave birth to twins shortly after they arrived at Stephansson House, near Markerville. And so they had Stephan's mother, and four children and themselves living in these tiny rooms.

So, as the farm expanded, they began building on more and more rooms.

Soon there were seven children. The boys slept upstairs in the attic. Yet, still, the Stephanssons found room for visitors, and their gifts.

The house has some very distinctive features. It has your beautiful little farmhouse kitchen, with a cream separator and a washtub, and a beautiful new stove, which was a gift from the local schoolteacher, who lived and boarded with the Stephanssons.

The little farmhouse grew to have what was called a Big Room. Original furnishings adorn this living room, including the Stephanssons' piano.

Now [the] Stephanssons' youngest daughter Rosa had a lovely gift. She could play the piano. Unfortunately, because Stephansson House is really quite isolated, she felt that it was a bit lonely. So, on Friday nights it wasn't unknown for her to actually pick up the telephone, which was a party line, and she would play the piano as a concert across the telephone wires. And everybody in Markerville was forced to listen to her play the piano.

Even after Stephan G. Stephansson's death in 1927, the house was lived in until the 1950s. And when the house was restored as an historic site in the 1970s, it contained many of the original furnishings.

On the Heritage Trail,

I'm Cheryl Croucher.

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            For more on the history of settlement in Alberta, visit Peel’s Prairie Provinces.