Although settlement in the United States and in central Canada
occurred before 1850, it was not until the 1890s and the
immigration policies of Clifford Sifton that the Canadian prairies
were a destination. The reestablishment of the Eau Claire Lumber
Company from Wisconsin to Calgary marked the earliest presence.
Today it is still known as the Eau Claire district, redeveloped as
a shopping plaza.
With many Norwegians moving from previous homesteads in the United
States, they arrived in what would become the New Norway district.
Communities such as Crooked Lake, Scandia, Bardo, Asker, Bakken,
Oslo (later to be called 'Camrose'), Donalda,
Round Hill (Trondhjem),
Bawlf, Viking and Edberg were largely established by Norwegians.
Edmonton had a significant population of Norwegians, notable for
establishing the Edmonton Ski Club and a chapter of the Sons of
Norway, a fraternal society. By 1912, settlements had been
established in the Peace River district, at Grande Prairie and at
The establishment of churches was important for these Norwegian
communities, as it is for almost all other immigrant groups.
Religious tradition provides meaning and a script for life's
passages, both joyful and sorrowful. In Alberta, the church was
not only a religious institution, but also central to social and
cultural expression. Schools were founded as well, the most
important of these in 1911. Augustana University College in
Camrose was founded as the Norwegian Lutheran Academy and was
renamed Camrose Lutheran University College.
Besides churches, schools and fraternal societies, several Alberta
ski clubs were founded by Norwegian immigrants and their
ancestors. The Fram Ski Club was established in Camrose in 1911
and the Edmonton Ski Club was founded by Norwegian immigrants in
1910. While skiing had both practical and sporting purposes, it
was the construction of ski jumps that gave this activity a
community presence that moved beyond the interests of the skiers
themselves. The sport of skijumping was the earliest mass
spectator winter sport in Alberta. The sport of skijumping as well
as cross-country skiing was introduced to non-Norwegian
enthusiasts, while remaining an important means of expression and
practice for those of Norwegian ancestry.
Today, Norwegian cultural organizations such as the Sons of Norway
continue to exist. In Alberta, the largest event reflecting the
Norwegian culture is the Canadian Birkebeiner Festival, a series
of cross-country ski races held east of Edmonton on the second
Saturday in February. The Birkebeiner commemorates the legacy of
the infant Crown Prince Hakon Hakkonsen, safely secured on the
back of soldier skiers. Cultural societies such as the Norwegian
Lafthus Society continue to encourage and promote the crafts and
expression of the culture for those of both Norwegian and