History

Nordics are people who come from Norway, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, and Denmark. Nordic immigrants immigrated to Canada for many different reasons. Some came for the adventure and promise of a better life, but many also came because of overpopulation in their home country. In Norway, only the oldest son inherited his father’s land, and the rest of the children had to find work elsewhere. Few jobs meant that many Norwegians settled in North America. The Canadian government was offering 160 acres (1/4 section) for a $10 fee, so many Nordics came to buy their own land.

An Illustrated world map shows the countries of Canada, Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark highlighted.

Nordic immigrants are people that have travelled from Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Finland, or Denmark to live in Canada.

A map illustration highlights the countries of Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland. The surrounding countries of Ireland, The United Kingdom, Germany, France, Poland, Belarus and Ukraine are also shown.

The countries of Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark are shown along with the surrounding countries.

A bunch of illustrated people are gathered in a city street, making it overcrowded.

Nordic countries were overpopulated and that led to many people deciding to move.

Settlement

At first, Nordics, mostly Norwegians, settled just south of the border in the United States. Later, they moved north into Saskatchewan. They settled near Watrous and in the Birch Hills. There were also groups of settlers along the southern border and near Estevan and Weyburn.

A couple from Norway sit for a family photo with their twelve children. They are all in formal wear, with the men and boys In suits and the women and girls In dresses.

This couple married in Norway in 1905 and then immigrated to Canada in 1906. They later had 12 children.

Getting used to the ways of a new country is never easy, but most Nordics adapted easily. Early immigrants mastered the English language and adjusted to their new lives extremely well. Unlike the shocking difference in environment for others, life in Saskatchewan was familiar to the Nordic settlers.

A brick service station has the words 'Premier Gasoline' and 'Polarine Motor Oils' painted on the side of the building. A group of men stand next to the building, along with a 1920's looking automobile.

This service station was in Theodore, SK, which became known as ‘Little Denmark’ because so many Nordic immigrants settled there, especially people from Denmark.

A woman stands in her kitchen, next to a stove with an apron on while she turns a coffee grinder.

This is a Swedish immigrant in her farmhouse kitchen.

Culture

There are still elements of Nordic culture alive in Saskatchewan today. There are Nordic clubs in many cities and towns around the province. The Saskatoon club meets monthly to celebrate food and culture. In the village of Weldon, there is an annual Norwegian Heritage celebration. Many Norwegians still fly flags and celebrate Norwegian Independence Day on May 17th.

A Norwegian flag that is red, white, and blue is flying with a blue sky and clouds in the background.

This flag is flown to celebrate Norwegian Independence Day.

Nordics have made many contributions to Canada’s society. One example is in the area of health care. In Canada, everyone can get health care when they are sick; this was not true at one time. Serious illness or death was often the result if Saskatchewan people could not afford to pay a doctor. This changed because of a Norwegian who settled in Saskatchewan.

A doctor and a nurse are helping a patient who is laying in a hospital bed with a bandage on his head.

We have free healthcare in Saskatchewan thanks to a Norwegian who settled here.

Matthew Anderson was the mayor of McKillop, in southwest Saskatchewan. He had always fought for a proper health plan for the people. As mayor, he introduced a plan in his region to make sure everyone could receive the health care they needed. Soon, other regions of Saskatchewan were doing the same. When Tommy Douglas was elected Premier (provincial leader) of Saskatchewan in 1944, he used this same plan for all of Saskatchewan. Later, this system was used by the Canadian Government and has become the health care system we have today.

An Illustrated group of people are gathered in front of a doctor's clinic listening to someone giving a speech.

Matthew Anderson fought for proper health care. This idea spread to the rest of the country.