The Norwegian Laft Hus Museum is a Recognized Museum as designated by the Alberta Museums Association, a member of the Central Alberta Regional Museum Network, and relatively undiscovered gem hidden in Red Deer, Alberta! The Norwegian Laft Hus is a museum and cultural centre that has been providing a unique experience to its community for the past 31 years.
The Norwegian Laft Hus is a centre for preservation, interpretation, and study of material relating to life and culture of Norwegian-Canadians. As such it instill in Canadians of all ethnic backgrounds an awesome awareness of the great diversity in their cultural heritage and enables Norwegian-Canadians to see, to understand and to appreciate their place in the mosaic of Canadian culture.
Click here to check out the Laft Hus' Virtual Museum exhibit to learn more about our history, what we do, and our collection!
The Norwegian Laft Hus opened its doors to the public in 1987, but of course the story of the Laft Hus begins years before that. The beautiful log building that you can visit today is the result of the passion and hard-work of a group of dedicated volunteers that wanted to not only celebrate Norwegian culture, but the multi-culturalism of Canada.
The very beginnings of the Norwegian Laft Hus can be traced to the founding of the Red Deer International Folk Festival Society in 1969. This society was created in order to host annual Canada Day celebrations, and encouraged people to share, or learn more about, their cultural heritage. This naturally led to the formation of groups that celebrate the cultural heritage of its members. So, a Norwegian group began to form. Founding member, Betty Wulff, formed this first Norwegian club while holding the dream of building a replica of a stabbur, or traditional farm storage building, close to her heart. This dream of a replica building was partially fuelled by an idea formed among the Red Deer International Folk Society to create a permanent international village to help showcase its member groups.
Betty's dream transformed, and instead of building a stabbur, it was decided to build a house, a Norwegian stue. So began an intensive project in which the members of the Norwegian Club of Central Alberta with Stan Wulff as Building Chairman sought out log joiner, Jan Setre, and began to strip and plane logs in preparation to build their dream. While the volunteers of the Norwegian Club of Central Alberta were building the Laft Hus just north of Red Deer they were also immersing themselves in all things Norwegian. They were hosting lutefisk suppers, learning to make Norwegian food, admiring the traditional costumes their family members had brought with them when they moved to Canada, learning to rosemal, and of course fundraising their dream. The group, now known as the Aspelund Laft Hus Society, sought an agreement with the City of Red Deer to move their beloved log building into the city. In 1984 they were granted a spot in Heritage Square to move the log building.
After years of dreaming and hard work everyone who had had a hand in building the Laft Hus, or the society that supported it, saw their dream come true. In 1987 the Norwegian Laft Hus was opened to the public. The building itself stands as a testament to what a dream can become, and how the dedication of the people behind that dream helps to bring it to life. Since its opening the Laft Hus has continued to share with the public this amazing piece of Red Deer history. Throughout the years a variety of exhibits, events, classes, and festivals have been held at the Laft Hus. We continue to provide a unique cultural experience for our community
The Norwegian Connection
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 as 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.
As the years went by, different areas began to arise in Alberta with one cultural group as the primary settlers. This has resulted in areas that are primarily German, Norwegian, Ukrainian, and so on. Many of these areas 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 privilege of being able to call ourselves Canadians.