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Sons of Norway Calgary » About Us

About Us

Jun
02

Velkommen!                Welcome!

Sons of Norway, Valhalla Lodge #4-341 in Calgary, Alberta meets regularly at the Scandinavian Centre, 739 20 Ave NW.  Please take the time to see what we are doing within our community on the pages following.
We offer many opportunities to celebrate Norwegian culture with activities and classes. We offer such cultural programs such as Cooking, Genealogy, Hardanger (embroidery), Knitting, Language, Music, Rosemaling (painting), Folkdancing, Weaving, and Wood Chip Carving.  We hold many events throughout the year such as a Lutefisk dinner (February), Syttende Mai Celebrations, St Hansfest, etc.  We participate in the District 4, Zone 4 Sports weekend held in various Alberta and Saskatchewan locations in February or March of each year.  Please join us for opportunities to share our heritage and culture.

History of the Valhalla Lodge:

The Norwegians In Calgary

In 1875 50 North West Mounted Policemen arrived in the Calgary area to bring law and order to the area.  In 1881Calgary’s population had reached 75 and it was home to the police fort and commanding officer’s residence, the I. G. Baker Store, a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post, a small church and several small tent residences.  With the arrival of the railway in 1883, Calgary saw a great boom in population, and with that influx of settlers came the demand for lumber.

Kutusoff MacFee, a lawyer from Ottawa, realized the potential market for lumber in Calgary and learned of the timber west of Calgary in the Kananaskis Country.  MacFee knew of several expert lumbermen in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and approached them for advice and assistance in building a lumber industry in Calgary.  On 25 July 1883, what would come to be called the Eau Claire and Bow River Lumber Company was formed in the office of North Western Lumber Company at Eau Claire.  The company’s president was Joseph G. Thorp – believed to be a Norwegian.  The new company had 14 shareholders and managed to raise enough funds to purchase 100 sq. miles of land and to begin their mill.  Two of these early shareholders were Peter A. Prince, who was to be the manager of the Calgary operation, and Isaac K. Kerr, who would follow him.

At the beginning of 1886 a sawmill was dismantled and shipped to Canada via Winnipeg by a predominantly Norwegian crew of skilled workers.  After the goods arrived in Manitoba, they were unloaded from the American train, and reloaded onto a CPR railcar.  They arrived in Calgary on 6 June 1886, where they lived in tents while working to build the new lumber mill.  It was here that these Norwegians would help to produce three carloads of lumber a day and here that many would build homes and raise their families.  The district of the Norwegian mill workers came to be called Eau Claire.

The Formation of the Sons of Norway, Valhalla Lodge

Many Norwegians came to settle in Calgary and went on to establish deep community roots and institutions in Calgary.  One of the organizations established in 1899 by the Norwegians in Calgary was the Eau Claire Scandinavian Lutheran Church, which is now  Trinity Lutheran Church.  In 1900 the Eau Claire Ladies Aid group was formed, and in 1910 the Norwegian Young People’s Organization was established, both with connection to the church.  The community supported by the organizations established in relation to the Lutheran Church helped to create an atmosphere that would lead the formation of the Valhalla Lodge in 1928.

The first meeting of the Sons of Norway in Calgary was held in the Scandinavian Lutheran Church (now Trinity Lutheran Church) social room on 11 Jan 1928.  Temporary officers were appointed.  The second meeting of the lodge was held on 19 January 1928.  It was at this meeting that the name of Valhalla, meaning home of the gods, was selected for the lodge  and the first two committees, The Flower and Sick Committee, were set up.  The following meetings saw the creation of dance, membership and other committees. In 1929 it was decided to purchase a gramophone for the lodge’s social events, which would be open only to members who were permitted to bring one guest.  The socials were held on the third Thursday of the month, but were given up when it was decided that they would hold dances every Saturday night.  Other highlights of the year included the creation of a Sick Committee, a trip to High River, a Roald Amundsen feast and Christmas party.

1n 1930 Valhalla Lodge decided to start a handwritten newspaper for reading at social gatherings and later on purchased a reasonably priced typewriter.  A letter was also sent to the main lodge to borrow national costumes, and a hall was rented to practice folk-dancing.  Importantly it was decided to hold an annual dance; the surplus gained would go to the unemployed members of the lodge.  In 1931, it was decided that they would hold lodge meetings in members’ homes for the summer; however no records of meetings between July and December exist, suggesting that no regular meetings occurred.  In 1932, a July picnic was planned at St. George Island together with the Sewing Club, and meetings were not held for another six months.

This sixth year of the lodge’s operation, 1933, began on 10 January.  Members were given a grace period for the payment of fees, as long as the share that went to the main lodge was paid.  The usual Christmas party was held, and the membership fee was reduced to $3.00.  However, after January of 1933 there are no written reports until January 1936.  A total of three years went by without a lodge meeting.  In 1936 a meeting was held to see about continuing the work of the lodge, and meetings were held until 18 April 1936 – which became the last meeting for four years.  In 1940 a meeting was held to make an agreement about the money in the treasury, and this would be the last meeting for two and a half years.

The War Years

On September 30, 1942 a reorganizational meeting for the lodge was held.  This was the first time lodge records were written in English.  At this meeting, it was decided that they should make an attempt to organize, and each person present was to contact as many people as possible for the next meeting on October 9th.  Three more meetings were recorded for 1942.  A Christmas program was held, and to raise funds, a turkey draw was held.  Half of the proceeds from the turkey draw were used to purchase turkeys and pay other expenses.  The other half was used for the Children’s Christmas party, which was a great success.  During this time Valhalla Lodge made arrangements concerning the travel and accommodation of Norwegian airmen through Calgary on their way to Banff.

From 1943-45 the Valhalla Lodge was very active, with its primary focus being involvement in the war effort.  During this time several Whist Drives and Dances were held, annual picnics to Bowness Park were participated in and the traditional Lutefisk dinners, 17th of May celebrations and Christmas parties were held.  The lodge made significant contributions to the Norwegian Seaman Relief Fund on several occasions, and sent $227 to airmen in Little Norway in Toronto.  Norwegian service men were invited to the Sons of Norway socials, and money raised from various fundraisers was contributed to the Norwegian Relief Fund.  Victory Bonds were also purchased by the lodge, and at Christmas time parcels were sent to lodge members overseas and presents were purchased for children in Norway.  The community demonstrated their care for those in need extensively during the Second World War, and this is a legacy truly worth remembering.

The Post War Years

After the Second World War Valhalla Lodge became quite active in the Calgary community.  They continued to raise funds for the Norwegian Relief fund.  During this period the Sons of Norway welcomed several Norwegian celebrities, including figure skater Sonja Henie and other athletes, as well as several ambassadors and the occasional royal.  At the opening of the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium the Norwegian Choir performed, and often Valhalla Lodge was invited to raise the Norwegian Flag at City Hall on May 17th and Leif Erikson Day.  The lodge also assisted Norwegian immigrants through offering English classes and helping them to adjust to their new home (this was going on in previous years as well).  The lodge started the Viking Café, and organized sports teams.  During the 1960s Charter Flights were organized on an almost annual basis, and at these times membership increased greatly as only legitimate members of an organization would be permitted to purchase tickets for the special flights.  Many of the members who joined to go to Norway became active members in the community afterwards.  Valhalla Lodge became involved with Ski for Light (a ski event for blind skiers) as guides, and still today provides guides, as well as airport pickups and a meeting place for athletes from across Canada when Kananaskis is the skiing venue.    The social events of this era catered to the family, and the lodge was active in the community. .

Today

More recently the Valhalla Lodge has focused its efforts on preserving and promoting Norwegian Culture in Calgary.  The Lodge offers cultural programs such as cooking, genealogy, Hardanger (embroidery), knitting, language lessons, music, Rosemaling (painting), folk dancing, weaving, and wood chip carving.  Many events, like the Lutefisk Dinner (February), Syttende Mai Celebration, and St. Hans Fest, are held throughout the year and in February or March the lodge participates in the District 4, Zone 4 Sports weekend.  Today the Valhalla Lodge operates out of the Scandinavian Centre, where the Scandinavian cultural groups work together to create a community that celebrates heritage and culture.

Further Readings

  • From Fjord to Frontier: A History of Norwegians in Canada.  Gulbrand Loken, 1890
  • Valhalla Cornerstone – 1928-1998, By the Hulderklubben (Valhalla Lodge)

 

By: Kesia Kvill Copyright 2011

 

Valhalla Lodge By-Laws