One of the most common questions we encounter here at the Laft Hus is, "are there many Norwegians in Red Deer?"

There aren't many first generation Norwegians in Red Deer because, during the period in which most immigration from Scandinavia occurred, Red Deer had not been fully established as a town. However, in the 1900's, many second generation Scandinavians and Continental Europeans began to move to Red Deer.

There has been a tremendous Scandinavian influence in Alberta. This is evident in the name of certain towns, the last names of the inhabitants of these areas, and the cultural legacy that has been left behind--such as food, music, and language.

There was much immigration occurring before, and at the turn of the 20th century. Much of the economy in Europe at this time still relied on farming and, as farmland became increasingly expensive and difficult to find, many Europeans immigrated to North America.

Many of these Europeans ended up in the U.S., only to find that the farmland problem was just as bad. The search for a better life led many of these people to Canada, where, as a result of the homesteading act, people were offered 160 acres of free land--a much better offer than anywhere else in North America.

This promise of free land was enough to entice the weary travelers in search of a new home. Many different immigrants from Norway, Sweden, Iceland, France, Netherlands, Ukraine, Germany, and many other countries flocked to the vast, fertile lands of the Canadian Prairies.

 

Life was hard for the first immigrants. They relied only on man-power and old tools to build houses and prepare land for farming. The harsh Canadian winters did not make life any easier, as well.

They persisted, however, and, slowly but surely, new families from the same countries immigrated to Canada and joined their compatriots in settling the new land.

As the years went by, different blocks began to arise in Alberta, with each block being predominantly German, Norwegian, Ukranian, and so on. Many of these different blocks grew into townships, where the culture of the founders was ingrained into every aspect of town life.

Today, the culture of the founders is still very much alive and palpable in these towns and cities. One can experience Icelandic culture in Markerville, Norwegian culture in Valhalla, or Danish culture in Dickson.

Alberta is a land full of a rich mixed history and culture, and, though we may all have our story as to how we found ourselves in this great land, we can all share the priviledge of being able to call ourselves Canadians.

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