Norwegian Canadian: Wikis


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Norwegian Canadian
Melody Anderson · Melyssa Ford · Natassia Malthe · Jennifer Granholm ·
Glenn Anderson · Jeff Friesen · Kristina Groves · Rick Hansen ·
Ann Heggtveit · Cindy Klassen · Pat Onstad · Cliff Ronning ·
Henry Larsen · Endre Johannes Cleven · Joni Mitchell · Norman Kittson ·
Total population
521,390 Canadians
1.6% of the Canadian population[1]
Regions with significant populations
Flag of Alberta.svg Alberta 161,455
Flag of British Columbia.svg British Columbia 151,540
Flag of Saskatchewan.svg Saskatchewan 75,095
Flag of Ontario.svg Ontario 64,980
Flag of Manitoba.svg Manitoba 48,950

English, Norwegian, Icelandic


Predominantly Protestant

Related ethnic groups

Norwegian Americans
Icelandic Canadians
Scandinavian Canadians
See Norwegians

Norwegian Canadian are Canadians of Norwegian and Icelandic descent.

There are approximately 1.2 million Canadians of Scandinavian descent living in Canada, representing around 3.9% of Canada’s population. In the 2006 census 432,515 Canadian citizens claimed Norwegian and Icelandic ancestry, making up 1.6% of the population of Canada. Significant Norwegian and Icelandic immigration took place from the mid-1880s to 1930.[2]




Viking exploration

Leif Ericson discovers America.

Norwegians have plays important roles in the history of Canada. The very first Europeans to reach North America were in fact Icelandic Norsemen, who made at least one major effort at settlement in what is today the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador (L'Anse aux Meadows) around 1000 AD. Snorri Thorfinnsson aka Snorri Guðriðsson, the son of Thorfinn Karlsefni and his wife Guđriđ, is thought to be the first white baby born in Canada and North America.[3]

In 1960 archaeological evidence of the only known Norse settlement[4] in North America (outside of Greenland) was found at L'Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of the island of Newfoundland, in what is now the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Although this proved conclusively the Vikings' pre-Columbian discovery of North America, whether this exact site is the Vinland of the Norse accounts is still a subject of debate. There is a consensus among scholars that the Vikings did reach North America, approximately five centuries prior to the voyages of Christopher Columbus.[5]

The main sources of information about the Norse voyages to Vinland are two Icelandic sagas, The Saga of Eric the Red and the Saga of the Greenlanders. These stories were preserved by oral tradition until they were written down some 250 years after the events they describe. The existence of two versions of the story shows some of the challenges of using traditional sources for history, because they share a large number of story elements, but use them in different ways. For example, both sagas feature a mariner called Bjarni, who is driven off course on a voyage to Greenland, and whose authority is subsequently called into question; in "Greenlanders" he is Bjarni Herjolfsson, who discovers the American mainland as a result of his mishap, but in "Eric" he is Bjarni Grimolfsson, who is driven into an area infested with shipworms on the way home from Vinland, with the result that his ship sinks. A brief summary of the plots of the two sagas shows many more examples.

Organized immigration

Gimli, Manitoba, pop. 5,797 is home to the largest concentration of Icelanders outside of Iceland.

The major reason for Norwegian migration appears to be one of economics. The Norwegian farms were often small and unable to support a family. Added to that was the lack of other employment to augment the family income. Between 1850 and 1910 approximately 681,011 Norwegians made their way to America. Very few originally stayed in Canada but some, after a stay in the American west, made their way across the boarder and settled in the present provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. One of the earliest Norwegian parties to America in the nineteenth century sailed from Stavenger on July 4, 1825. This party was lead by Kleng Pedersen (Cleng Peerson). The ship, Restauration, of 45 tons, master being Helland, was a rebuilt sloop carrying 52 passengers. To that number was added baby Larson, who was born on the voyage. Many of this party were Quakers, leaving Norway for religious reasons. The voyage took 97 days and they arrived in New York on October 9, 1825. In 1836 the Norden and DenNorske Klippe sailed to America with 167 passengers. Another two vessels sailed the following year.

The British Government repealed the navigation laws in 1849 and from 1850 on, Canada became the port of choice as Norwegian ships carried passengers to Canada and took lumber back to Norway. The Canadian route offered many advantages to the emigrant. "They moved on from Quebec both by rail and by steamer for another thousand or more miles for a steerage fare of slightly less than $9.00. Steamers from Quebec brought them to Toronto, then the immigrants often traveled by rail for 93 miles to Collingwood on Lake Huron, from where steamers transported them across Lake Michigan to Chicago, Milwaukee and Green Bay." In 1855 there were eight vessels reported from Norway to Canada in the immigration report, averaging a 45 day crossing. These vessels carried 1,275 passengers. The following year, 14 vessels made the voyage averaging 54 days, and carrying 2,821 passengers. One of these vessels, the Orion from Stavanger, was said to carry 50 paupers all heading for the American west but, due to a lack of funds were sent to Buffalo. The passengers of the Gifion, all proceeded to Wisconsin.

There were a considerable number of deaths among the Norwegians in 1857. Of the 6,507 immigrants who arrived in that year there were 100 deaths. In 1859, however, emigration dropped off with only 16 vessels arriving from Norway carrying 1,756 passengers. Of the over 28,460 Norwegians who came to Canada in the 1850s it is estimated that only 400 remained in Canada the majority moved on into the American west. A small settlement of Norwegians was begun at Gaspe Peninsula, Lower Canada, in 1854. A report in 1859, stated that 25 families, totaling 126 persons, were settled in the Gaspe. They were joined in 1860 by another 50 persons. However, the Norwegians were not content, and after a very hard winter in 1861-2 they began to make their way to the American west. About 14 families who arrived on the ship Flora from Kristiania in 1856 went to the Eastern Townships, near present day Sherbrooke, Quebec. They were following in the footsteps of two other Norwegians who settled in this area in 1853. "Johan Schroder, who travelled in the United States and Canada in 1863, reported that a group of Norwegian immigrants, led by an agent, settled in Bury in the Eastern Townships in 1856. One of the first settlers in this area was Captain John Svenson who died in 1878.


Settlements in Canada which were primarily created by Norwegian and Icelandic immigrants:

Settlements in Saskatchewan

The Birch Hills settlement was probably the earliest Norwegian settlement in what is now Saskatchewan, as it began to develop as early as 1894. The first Norwegian Lutheran congregation was established at Hanley in 1903, followed almost immediately by congregations near Langham and Birch Hills—so that virtually all of Saskatchewan’s Norwegian settlements had come into existence by 1910. Around the turn of the century, large numbers of Norwegians had migrated northwards across the international frontier from earlier settlements they had established in Minnesota, the Dakotas, and Montana. Many settled in areas just north of the border. Today, Norwegian Canadians form a substantial proportion in most of the rural municipalities along the border as well as in a corridor extending northwest from Estevan through Weyburn. They constitute between half and a quarter of the population of eight communities and a substantial proportion in another eight; in certain rural districts and unincorporated hamlets, Norwegians predominate. Altogether there are at least 4,000 people of Scandinavian (mostly Norwegian) origin in these communities today. Further west along the frontier, many Norwegian Americana spread northward across the border from neighbouring settlements in Montana into the south-central frontier region, extending from the border northwards, through the Big Muddy Badlands and Wood Mountain into the Cactus Hills. At least four early Norwegian Lutheran congregations were founded. Today, as many as 1,400 people of Scandinavian origin are scattered through eight rural municipalities and a dozen incorporated communities in this region. However, they form a majority only in two of the smallest communities; in the other communities and in the rural municipalities, they never form more than 15–20% of the population. While there are fewer people of Norwegian origin (perhaps about 800) in the southwest frontier region, south of Cypress Hills they formed a well-defined settlement in this region in 1909–10. Immigrating from North Dakota, they settled in and around Climax, Frontier and Robsart, and established Norwegian Lutheran congregations in these villages as well as in Shaunavon. A continuous area of Norwegian concentration extends south into the adjacent Norheim and Hogeland districts in Montana.

A small concentration of Norwegians from North Dakota settled in the Simmie-Illerbrun area some 60 km to the north in 1906, establishing a Norwegian Lutheran congregation at Simmie. Today their descendants in the area number about 700, inclusive of a small minority in the nearby town of Gull Lake. A considerable number of Norwegians concentrated quite heavily in the region immediately to the northwest and north of Swift Current around 1906-08; six early Norwegian Lutheran congregations were established. Today, they do not form a majority in any incorporated community or rural municipality in this region; in smaller, unincorporated hamlets and rural districts, however, they predominate.

One of the largest primarily Norwegian settlements in Saskatchewan had begun to develop in the central region around Outlook and Hanley by 1903-06. Many of the original settlers came from largely Norwegian communities in the United States, such as Veblen and Langford (South Dakota), Northwood (North Dakota), and Hanley Falls (Minnesota); yet many had been born in Norway, and some had even arrived directly from there. The first Norwegian Lutheran congregation in Saskatchewan was founded at Hanley in 1903; several other early congregations “in town” were soon established. But most Norwegian Lutheran churches tended to become focal points for compact, solidly Norwegian districts out in the country. In fact, Scandinavian people do not comprise a majority in any community in the general region; yet as almost 3,000 people of Scandinavian origin live there, it is one of the largest concentrations of Norwegian people in Saskatchewan. Outlook has the largest number of people of Scandinavian descent for any rural community, with the possible exception of Melfort, and is the home of a Lutheran college with a strong Norwegian tradition.

A very small concentration of Norwegians developed in the area between Langham, Vanscoy and Delisle, about 60 km north of Outlook and immediately west of Saskatoon. The Norwegian Lutheran congregation founded near Langham in 1903 is one of the oldest in the province. Today, only about 300 people of Scandinavian origin remain in the area. A string of five primarily Norwegian settlements (but with substantial Swedish proportions in some communities and districts) wove its way across the north and east-central Saskatchewan prairies, from the Prince Albert region all the way to the Manitoba border. Today almost 10,000 people of Scandinavian origin live in these five settlements.

A large Scandinavian settlement around Shellbrook, west of Prince Albert, began to develop by 1904. The Parkside area southwest of Shellbrook was settled by people of both Swedish and Norwegian origin who had immigrated via the midwestern states, as well as by immigrants directly from Sweden and Norway. Canwood, northwest of Shellbrook, became the focal point of a large area settled by people of diverse Scandinavian origins: chiefly Swedish and Norwegian, but also some Danish. The Ordale area, between Parkside and Canwood, due west of Shellbrook, was settled primarily by people of Norwegian origin related to those at Hagen in the Birch Hills settlement. Early Norwegian Lutheran congregations were established at Parkside, Shell Lake, and Shellbrook. In 1971 there were at least 1,500 people of Scandinavian origin within the settlement.

Alameda Dam, Estevan, near Alameda, and Oxbow, Saskatchewan. It was constructed in 1994 to control flows on the Moose Mountain Creek, and Souris River. It provides flood protection and irrigation for this area of Saskatchewan, along with protection for Minot, ND.

Some 30 km southeast of Prince Albert, the Birch Hills settlement was probably the earliest and remained the best defined, primarily Norwegian settlement in Saskatchewan. The Glen Mary district near the town of Birch Hills was first settled by Norwegian immigrants as early as 1894. In 1903 Rev. H.O. Holm, Home Mission Superintendent of the United Norwegian Lutheran Church, traveled through the region to determine the need for home mission work among the Norwegian settlers. Four days after he had organized the first Norwegian congregation in the province at Hanley (in the Outlook settlement), he founded the “Norden Skandianviske Lutherske Kirke” at Glen Mary. Later that same year, Pastor S.H. Njaa was sent from Hanley Falls, Minnesota to Hanley by a church board which had met at Canton, South Dakota; then he was posted to the Birch Hills settlement. Fairly close contact seems to have been maintained between the various settlements within the province, between them and similar ones in the midwestern states, and between them and certain areas of Scandinavia. It was largely through these contacts that the settlement around Birch Hills grew, as more and more people of Scandinavian origin migrated there from other Scandinavia areas in the province, from the American settlements, and from Scandinavia itself. The Birch Hills settlement, together with an adjacent Swedish settlement north of Melfort, included over 3,000 people of Scandinavian origin. While Scandinavian people do not predominate in any town or incorporated village in the settlement region, they do form a very high proportion (over 90%) in many smaller communities and rural districts. The Hagen area west of Birch Hills, for example, is almost completely Norwegian, as are the districts of Queen Maud, Prestfoss, Viking, Norden, etc., north of Weldon.

About 50 km south of Melfort, another Norwegian settlement developed around Naicam. Immanuel Norwegian Lutheran Congregation, founded at Naicam in 1910, held all of its services exclusively in Norwegian during the early years (as did most, if not all, Norwegian Lutheran congregations), and has long held a Norwegian Christmas service. Virtually all pastors who served this congregation, as well as the Dovre Congregation, founded near Spalding in 1919, were Norwegian. A bilingual sign in Norwegian and English welcomes visitors to Naicam. The Scandinavian proportion is less than one-third in Naicam, and a quarter in Spalding; yet surrounding rural districts tend to be quite heavily Norwegian, as early placenames suggested. Today, an estimated 1,000 Scandinavians live in this settlement.

It is often difficult to determine when one Norwegian settlement dwindles and the next begins. To the east of Naicam and Spalding, Scandinavian settlement continues eastward 50 km into the Rose Valley area. However, Ukrainians outnumber Scandinavians in the village of Rose Valley, where people of Scandinavian origin comprise slightly over a quarter of the community population. To the south, only one in five residents in Fosston is Scandinavian, as many Poles settled in this community. But the next village, Hendon, is largely Swedish and Norwegian; and Swedes, Norwegians and Icelanders comprise a substantial proportion of the town of Wadena. To the north of Rose Valley, Scandinavian people concentrated around Nora and Archerwill; the Dahlton district is largely Scandinavian. Further to the north, Scandinavians settled around Chagoness, Bjorkdale, and Stenen. Early Norwegian Lutheran congregations were founded at Nora, Rose Valley, Hendon and Wadena.

Norwegian settlement continued eastward past Kelvington into the areas around Margo, Ketchen, Preeceville, Sturgis, and Norquay. Early Norwegian Lutheran congregations included Margo, Poplar Grove at Ketchen (1918), and North Prairie at Preeceville (1908); again, virtually all pastors for decades have been Norwegian. An estimated 2,400 people of Scandinavian descent live in this region. While they constitute relatively low proportions in the principal communities, they form higher proportions in the surrounding rural areas. According to recent census data (2001), of 60,510 Saskatchewan residents claiming Norwegian ethnic origin, 15% (9,135) claim no other ethnic origin, whereas the vast majority, 84.9% (51,370) claim other origins besides Norwegian.


Canada is also the home of Little Norway and Camp Norway, both Norwegian military training facilities, during the Second World War, and the port of Halifax was a refuge for the Norwegian merchant marine and Royal Norwegian Navy during the same conflict.

Norwegian and Icelandic population in Canada

7.6% of the population in Saskatchewan is of Norwegian and Icelandic ancestry.

According to Statistics Canada figures from the 2006 census, 432,515 Canadians reported themselves as having Norwegian ethnic background and 88,875 reported themselves as having Icelandic ethnic background (multiple responses were allowed). The figures are also broken down by provinces and territories for both Norwegians and Icelanders:

Province Rank Province Norwegian Canadian Percent Norwegian Canadian
-  Canada 521,390[6] 1.6%
1 Flag of Alberta.svg Alberta 161,455 4.9%
2 Flag of British Columbia.svg British Columbia 151,540 3.6%
3 Flag of Saskatchewan.svg Saskatchewan 75,095 7.6%
4 Flag of Ontario.svg Ontario 64,980 0.5%
5 Flag of Manitoba.svg Manitoba 48,950 4.2%
6 Flag of Quebec.svg Quebec 6,985 0.09%
7 Flag of Nova Scotia.svg Nova Scotia 5,135 0.5%
8 Flag of New Brunswick.svg New Brunswick 2,770 0.3%
9 Flag of Newfoundland and Labrador.svg Newfoundland and Labrador 1,575 0.3%
10 Flag of Yukon.svg Yukon 1,445 4.7%
11 Flag of the Northwest Territories.svg Northwest Territories 860 2.0%
12 Flag of Prince Edward Island.svg Prince Edward Island 525 0.3%
13 Flag of Nunavut.svg Nunavut 75 0.2%
Province Rank Province Percent Norwegian Canadian Norwegian Canadian
-  Canada 1.6% 521,390
1 Flag of Saskatchewan.svg Saskatchewan 7.6% 75,095
2 Flag of Alberta.svg Alberta 4.9% 161,455
3 Flag of Yukon.svg Yukon 4.7% 1,445
4 Flag of Manitoba.svg Manitoba 4.2% 48,950
5 Flag of British Columbia.svg British Columbia 3.6% 151,540
6 Flag of the Northwest Territories.svg Northwest Territories 2.0% 860
7 Flag of Nova Scotia.svg Nova Scotia 0.5% 5,135
8 Flag of Ontario.svg Ontario 0.5% 64,980
9 Flag of New Brunswick.svg New Brunswick 0.3% 2,770
10 Flag of Newfoundland and Labrador.svg Newfoundland and Labrador 0.3% 1,575
11 Flag of Prince Edward Island.svg Prince Edward Island 0.3% 525
12 Flag of Nunavut.svg Nunavut 0.2% 75
13 Flag of Quebec.svg Quebec 0.09% 6,985

It is important to note that because so many Norwegian and Icelandic women married men of other nationalities, and thus by census rules are not counted as having children of this ethnic origin, this tends to reduce the number in the statistics.[2]

Norwegian language by province

Norwegian language[7] Percent
 Canada 7,710 0.02%
 British Columbia 3,420 0.08%
 Alberta 1,360 0.04%
 Ontario 1,145 0.00%
 Saskatchewan 895 0.09%
 Quebec 370 0.00%
 Nova Scotia 175 0.01%
 Manitoba 160 0.01%
 Newfoundland and Labrador 95 0.01%
 New Brunswick 80 0.01%
 Yukon 10 0.03%
 Northwest Territories 0 0.00%
 Nunavut 0 0.00%
 Prince Edward Island 0 0.00%

List of Canadians of Norwegian and Icelandic descent

Eidsvoll riksraad 1814.jpeg

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Norwegian Portal
Joni Mitchell, one of the most famous Norwegian Canadians.


  • Melody Anderson, social worker and public speaker specializing in the impact of addiction on families. Also widely known as an actress.
  • Melyssa Ford, model/actress.
  • Natassia Malthe Norwegian model/actress who grew up in Canada.
  • John Qualen - actor: "He was Hollywood's stock Scandinavian character actor but could also play just about any other ethnic type imaginable. He was born Johan Mandt Kvalen in Vancouver, British Columbia on December 8, 1899, the son of Norwegian immigrants. His father, a Lutheran minister, changed the spelling of their name to Qualen."[8]
  • Rachel Skarsten, actress.





  • Roger Petersen, reporter for CTV Toronto. Mostly of German heritage.





See also

Location of Canada and Norway.



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