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The Norse ancestors of the people of Norway, the Vikings are known for their early voyages to North America. Figures such as 19th and early 20th century explorers like Fridtjof Nansen and Otto Sverdrup voyaged and charted Canada's Arctic seaways and islands.

Immigration from Norway

Ostrom sisters But it was the period from 1880 to 1929 when the majority of Norwegians came to Western Canada. In the period before World War I, nearly 20,000 immigrants came from Norway to Canada and many others came via the United States. By 1931, there were over 90,000 people of Norwegian ancestry living in Canada, 32,000 who had come directly from Norway, nearly 22,000 who had come to Canada via the United States and the remainder were the sons and daughters of the immigrants.

Picnic, Norwegian settlers The presence of Norwegians in Alberta is tied to a difficult chapter in Norway's history. During the early 19th century, schooling and education for all classes of people in Norway was introduced. This marked the advent of a new kind of society that would disrupt and change Norway's traditional village society of farmers and fisherman.

This new learning took root in a religious movement within the Lutheran Church, throughout northern Europe, called pietism. Victoria Day Celebration A response to the rigid and formal state-sponsored Lutheran Church, the movement encouraged reflection on the importance of personal experience and the importance of applying one's religious convictions to the matters of daily life, including politics and social concerns. The movement was critical of the Lutheran clergy and the privileged classes who had seemed to abandon any sense of justice in Norwegian society. Led by Hans Nielsen Hauge, the movement was largely responsible for shaping the emerging democratic sensibilities of the society. The Norwegian state responded by imprisoning thousands active in the pietist movement, including Hauge.

Ski tournament Together, this resulted in a generation of Norwegians who were literate, interested in democratic institutions and critical of privilege and seeking a society that could sustain their aspirations and hopes for the future. They had the skills and sensibilities required for a modern industrial society, a society which had not yet emerged in Norway. The move from a traditional to modern society is difficult and so it was with Norway. Unable to accommodate this new generation, the period of modern immigration began.

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