The Scandinavian emigration to the United States and Canada has countless examples of chain migration, however, it was seldom a joint action with full transplantation of communities. The forward scout was a common feature in many cases. Scouts often investigated new possibilities in another location on behalf of a larger group. Family and neighbors followed in smaller or larger numbers over a few years or a longer period.
Most of the Norwegian and Swedish immigrants who settled in Alberta, traveled on the railway. Maybe one in four crossed the border from the United States at remote spots with their own wagons. If they were given a choice, both Norwegians and Swedes preferred to settle in their own colonies. Neither of them, though, minded living in communities where the two were mixed.
The Norwegian Bardo settlement
The Hay Lakes district south of Edmonton and east of Leduc became a favored location for Swedes and Germans. Norwegians preferred the Bardo area, a short distance south of Beaver Hills Lake. One of the earliest Norwegian pioneer settlers in the area was Edmund Thompson who arrived in 1893. He worked as a land guide or scout in the latter part of the 1890s and came to influence the choice of land for many Norwegians. It was Thompson who in 1894 guided the first residents to their future homesteads at Bardo, Alberta; 44 men, women and children moved from Crookston, Minnesota, to the Bardo settlement that year. Another eleven persons joined them the next year.
Odd S. Lovoll has written about the background of the Norwegians who established the Bardo settlement. They had originally emigrated in 1876 from northern Norway and settled on the Minnesota side of the Red River Valley in 1876. The Anderson, Finseth and Jevning families had been among the first to settle there. Friends and relatives from the same communities in Northern Norway had later joined them. They organized a Lutheran Hauge Congregation in Crookston in 1878.
By 1893 and 1894 prospective immigrants from the US or Europe had to travel far beyond Wetaskiwin to find good agricultural land. In spring 1893 an agent of the Dominion of Canada offered Norwegian settlers in Crookston, Minnesota, free travel to inspect land on the Canadian prairies. Four men accepted the offer and traveled to Central Alberta.
When they returned home, they told excited stories about the promising land they had seen and especially the “New Norway” settlement, south of Wetaskiwin. Next spring 20 men traveled by train from Crookston to Winnipeg. An immigration agent met them in Winnipeg and gave them advice about what to do when they arrived in Wetaskiwin. They continued their travel on the main line of the Canadian Pacific Railroad from Winnipeg to Calgary, where they changed to the Calgary-Edmonton line.
When the Norwegians disembarked at the Wetaskiwin railroad depot in May, the railroad company had erected a big tent at the station and offered them to sleep there. The Crookston party had originally planned to go to New Norway, but Edmund Thompson intervened. He persuaded them that the prospects for good soil were better in the north. A party of four followed him, and after a long and exhausting trip of 100 km they came to Beaver Hills Lake. They liked the area very much. “Game, timber and water were to be had close at hand, along with good looking soil on the border of the hills.” They could even fish in the lake. What more could a Norwegian ask for?
The rest of the group joined them and traveled the long way to Beaver Hills Lake, inspecting the land before they were ready to make the final decision. A telegram was sent to Crookston with news that the right land had been found. They named the chosen settlement Bardo after Bardu, the place they had originally emigrated from in northern Norway.
Letters were sent to relatives and friend at Bardu, Norway, about the new Bardo in Alberta. A new chain of immigrants directly from northern Norway was established. A school and church were soon built at Bardo, and the first Norwegian Hauge Congregation in Alberta was established in 1895 with B. Anderson as their first pastor. The first school classes began in 1896. According to Lovoll the story of the Bardo immigrants shows how the Bardu community “successfully uprooted and replanted itself twice, first in the Red River Valley and then in central Alberta.”
The Eau Clair Lumber Mill
The first major Norwegian colony in the future province of Alberta was established along the Bow River in newly established Calgary in 1886. This was the Eau Claire Lumber Mill. This sawmill tried to satisfy the demand created by the building boom in Calgary. The owner and most of his employees were skilled lumber and sawmill workers who had migrated from Eau Claire in Wisconsin to Calgary. The sawmill soon became the largest in the North-West Territories and was in operation until 1945.
Swedish and Norwegian settlements
The majority of the prairie immigrants traveled on the railway, but maybe one in four merely crossed the border from the United States at remote spots in their own wagons. If they were given a choice, both Norwegians and Swedes preferred to settle in their own colonies. Neither of them, though, minded living in communities where Norwegians lived among Swedes. In some places Swedes dominated – at Calmar, Thorsby, and Warburg west of Wetaskiwin or Scandia, New Sweden, and Malmo. All of these places got their names from places and cities in Sweden, and most were settled and developed by Swedish pioneers in the 1890s. Wetaskiwin, Adrian Molin wrote in 1913, had become an almost “exclusively Swedish town with a population of roughly 2,000. It was the center of a significant farming area cleared and cultivated largely by Swedes.”
The town of Calmar was founded by Carl J. Blomquist, who came to the area in 1894 from Foreman, North Dakota. He named the place after Kalmar, the town close to his home in southern Sweden. The following year between thirty and forty families, many of them Blomquist’s neighbors from North Dakota, moved to Calmar. A school was built in 1898, and a post office named Calmar was established a year later.
South and east of Wetaskiwin were the two Swedish farming communities of New Sweden and Malmo. The first Swedish settlers in New Sweden, 11 km southeast of Wetaskiwin, arrived in the 1890s, and the first settlers in Malmo, 16 km south of New Sweden, arrived in 1898. Among these settlers many came from Småland, but the district got its name from the city of Malmö in Skåne.
The town of Thorsby, west of Calmar, was given its name around 1900 by Gustav Sahlstrom, who came from Thorsby, Värmland in Sweden. Many Swedes also settled in the Buford and Glen Park districts east of Thorsby, having moved from Kulm, North Dakota. In 1905, after two years in the United States, Oscar and Albin Benson from Varberg, Sweden, settled in the Warburg district in Alberta. The town of Alsike, west of Warburg, was founded by Swedes in 1908 and was named after the alsike clover, which was common in the area.
After 1900, Swedes also settled around the eastern Alberta towns of Amisk, Hughenden, and Czar. Many had emigrated from Småland, either directly from the home country or via the United States. The heaviest concentration of Swedes lived directly north of Czar, where Swedes formed the majority of the population. Others lived south of Amisk and around Hughenden.
Two places near Pigeon Lake also got Swedish names, Westerose on the south shore and Falun just to the southeast. Axel Norstrom came from Västerås, and an Anglicized version of this name was given to the post office in 1907. The Falun post office, established three years earlier, was named after the place in Sweden several other families in the area had emigrated from.
Who settled Swedish Edberg?
John Anton Edström, born on December 18, 1850, in Lycksele, Sweden, his wife Eva Marie, and their four children Emil, Oscar and the twins Freda and Lena, emigrated to the United States in July 1890. The family settled in Kulm, in LaMoure County, North Dakota. At the end of the decade people in the area became very excited about the opportunities for acquiring cheap prairie land in Canada.
Emil Edström, their 18-year-old son, traveled to Alberta on a scouting trip in 1899. He arrived at Wetaskiwin, Alberta, and was pointed in an easterly direction. After having walked southeast 55 km, as the crow flies, he found land he liked. He registered a homestead beside a small lake, returned to Kulm in spring 1900, and persuaded his father and the rest of the family to join him in Alberta. John Edström, who by now had changed his last name to Edstrom, sold the family homestead and loaded a settler’s boxcar full of horses, cows, pigs, chickens, and household goods.
The family arrived in Wetaskiwin on October 23, 1900, and immediately began to build a log house on their homestead. There were no roads in the area, only trails winding through the brush, trying to avoid sloughs. All supplies had to be freighted from Wetaskiwin by team and wagon. Since the closest store was located at Duhamel, almost 30 km to the northwest, John Edstrom decided to establish a store and a post office in his own house.
The post office had to have a name. It was decided to call it Edberg. A number of Swedes from the United States soon staked their claims on land close to Edberg, and the first school district was organized in 1901.
Some Norwegians found Edberg convenient for mail and supplies
One of the Norwegian settlers living southeast of New Norway found it convenient to use Edberg to pick up mail and buy supplies. Ole Bredesen, born at Løten, Hedmark, Norway on October 17, 1835, died April 23, 1905, in Edberg, Alberta. After his immigration to the United States, he met and married Carolyn Margaret Engebretsen (born at Gratiot, Wisconsin, August 22, 1851, and died in Polk, Nebraska, on May 17, 1890).
The widower Bredesen had chosen to migrate from Oklahoma to Alberta in 1893. He brought with him his five sons, two daughters, and his housekeeper Mrs. Anderson. A settler’s boxcar was filled with horses, farm equipment, and household goods. The group disembarked at Wetaskiwin and staked their claims for homesteads between the area which was to be named Edberg, and Ferintosh.
The Bredesen family were the first white folks to turn a furrow in that area, using a breaking plow and horses. “As they turned the sod, Indians stood on a hill near by and watched. Prairie fire had taken its toll of the timber stand so breaking land was not such a problem on the fireswept land.” 
Peder P. Aursness also settled in this area. He was born in a coastal region at Aursnes, Ålesund, Norway, and died in 1947 in Alberta. After he married Nellie Olsen (born October 18, 1869, in Bremanger, Norway, and died in Alberta 1942) the couple emigrated from Norway to South Dakota in 1892. Three years later, in 1895, they migrated to Alberta. While Aursness completed a log house and other log buildings on the homestead, his wife and his foster daughter Mattie stayed at the home of their Norwegian neighbor Andrew Jensen and his family.
After 1900 he extended his farm by buying land from the Canadian Pacific Railroad. In fall 1909 the couple went to Norway to visit family. When they returned in spring 1910, they brought with them a niece, two nephews, and two young men. The Aursness family also played a role in the establishment of the Edberg Lutheran Congregation.
Nikolai F. Hustad was born in 1860 in the even more windswept Hustadvika, Norway, and died in Edberg in 1935. He emigrated to the United States in 1890. He first settled in Minnesota where he married Anne Bergetta Froland in 1891. They left Echo, Minnesota, with their two children Inga and Fred in 1894, and traveled to Wetaskiwin, Alberta. They homesteaded in the New Norway/Edberg area. During the first years the family lived in a small log house but moved into a new and larger house in 1901. There was no school in the vicinity before 1904.
To earn the money needed to improve and extend the homestead and break more land, Hustad and his family moved to the Banff area during several winters. Hustad worked in the anthracite coal mines, and the children attended a local school. Canadian Pacific Railroad still sold land for as low as five dollars an acre and Hustad bought as much additional land as he could afford.
After Anne suddenly died in 1905, Nikolai Hustad had a hard time trying to take care of five children as well as operating the farm. He was remarried to Anne Urke in 1907. Hustad continued farming until 1920 when he sold the farm and bought a house in Edberg.
From Campbell County, South Dakota
The Norwegian Charles Djuve originally emigrated from Seljord, Telemark County, (born September 1, 1865). He settled in Campbell County, South Dakota along with Halvor Djuve, Rasmussen, Halvor Thorkelson and their families. Another neighbor, John Kerr, was sent to explore the virgin lands the Canadian government advertised on behalf of himself and his neighbors. He liked the land the agents showed him around Edmonton and wrote back the good news.
Charles Djuve wanted to see for himself. He wrote the Canadian Government in Ottawa and applied for a free three month pass to travel from Portal, North Dakota, to Edmonton and back on the railroad. His assignment was to buy land for himself and his neighbors. Government land guides took Djuve around to different settlements in the vicinity of Red Deer, Lacombe, and Edmonton in spring 1899. He generally did not like the land around Edmonton. Instead, he applied for a homestead in the vicinity of Edberg.
He returned to South Dakota at the end of the three months. During the fall he loaded his belongings on a wagon and took with him nine horses, including a team belonging to Halvor Thorkelson. He first traveled along roads and trails as far north as Fessenden, North Dakota, where he stayed for some weeks. He then loaded horses and everything else he brought with him into a boxcar, traveled through Minot, and from there to Wetaskiwin and Edberg. His brother Halvor Djuve and his family also soon left South Dakota for Edberg.
Halvor Thorkelson, born in Norway on September 6, 1877, emigrated in 1894, and was asked by several other South Dakota farmers to be their forward scout in Alberta. During the next years approximately 50 families left South Dakota in favor of the prairie land around Edberg, Donalda, and Spruce Coulee. Several members of these families were related. Thorkelson’s uncle Ole Rasmussen had emigrated from Norway in 1883 and settled in Campbell County. In 1900 he also moved to the Edberg area.
Among the Norwegian settlers around Edberg were several from Minnesota. One of the best known was Jens Christian Ramm, born January 7, 1848, Tønsberg, Vestfold County. He emigrated to Ada, Minnesota, with his parents in 1883. Two years after arrival he married Hannah Nelson, and in 1900 the couple moved to the New Norway district in Central Alberta with their children and his old father. A number of other Norwegians also came from Minnesota – like Anton Ramstad and Albert Lien in 1902.
Definitely more exotic was the group of people of Swedish heritage that came from Gammalsvenskby in Ukraine. They began to settle in the Malmo area around 1900, and in 1930 approximately twenty percent of the Swedish farming population in Alberta was related to Gammalsvenskby people.
A number of people who had emigrated from Västerbotten in northern Sweden took homesteads 10 km east of Hay Lakes, Central Alberta, after 1900. The rolling land covered with brush reminded them of home. The colony became known as Wilhelmina after the church, which in turn got its name from Vilhelmina, a town in Västerbotten, even though only a few of the settlers had grown up there.
Ten km south of Wilhelmina lay Fridhem. Most of the Swedes in this settlement arrived from the United States, primarily in family groups.
After 1900, Swedes also settled around the eastern Alberta towns of Amisk, Hughenden, and Czar. Many had emigrated from Småland, either directly from Sweden or via the United States. The heaviest concentration of Swedes lived directly north of Czar, where Swedes formed the majority of the population. Others lived south of Amisk and around Hughenden.
Swedes dominated at Calmar, Thorsby, and Warburg west of Wetaskiwin and Scandia, New Sweden, and Malmo. These places got their names from places and cities in Sweden, and most were settled and developed by Swedish pioneers in the 1890s. According to Adrian Molin, in 1913 Wetaskiwin had become an almost “exclusively Swedish town with a population of roughly 2,000. It was the center of a significant farming area cleared and cultivated largely by Swedes.”
 Graham A. MacDonald, The Beaver Hills Country. A History of Land and Life, Edmonton 2009, p. 82.
 Odd S. Lovoll, ”Canada Fever. The Odyssey of Minnesota’s Bardo Norwegians, Minnesota History, Fall 2001, pp. 356 – 366.
 Graham A. MacDonald, The Beaver Hills Country. A History of Land and Life, Edmonton 2009, p. 83.
 Odd S. Lovoll, ”Canada Fever. The Odyssey of Minnesota’s Bardo Norwegians, Minnesota History, Fall 2001, pp. 356 – 366.
 Jan Harold Brunvand, Norwegian Settlers in Alberta, Ottawa: National Museum of Man, 1974.
 Viveka K. Janssen, «Swedish Settlement in Alberta, 1890-1930», Swedish American Historical Quarterly, p. 117.
 Sylvia Edstrom and Florence Lundstrom, Memoirs of Edberg Pioneers, published 1955, p. 6-7.
 Edstrom and Lundstrom, Memoirs of Edberg Pioneers, p. 15.
 Edstrom and Lundstrom, Memoirs of Edberg Pioneers, pp. 42-43.
 Edstrom and Lundstrom, Memoirs of Edberg Pioneers, p. 45.
 Edstrom and Lundstrom, Memoirs of Edberg Pioneers, p. 46.
 Edstrom and Lundstrom, Memoirs of Edberg Pioneers, p. 49.
 Edstrom and Lundstrom, Memoirs of Edberg Pioneers, p. 100.
 Folke Hedblom, «The Gammalsvenskby People: Swedish-Canadian Immigrants from south Russia», p. 40.
 Jansson, «Swedish Settlement in Alberta, 1890-1930», p. 117.