HISTORY

Fast Facts:

1912- The Ronnings, O. Horte, J.O. Johnson, and O. Forseth arrive in the district
1915- The first confirmation service is held in the log schoolhouse
1916- a congregation is officially formed
1926- building of the church is completed
1950’s- services in Norwegian are discontinued

Rev. Halvor Ronning dreamed of finding a place where Norwegians in Canada could farm and support a Lutheran Church. In 1912 he and his wife, along with Olaf Horte, John O. Johnson, and Ole Forseth made their way into the district north of Grande Prairie. They settled in a place Ronning later named “Valhalla”.

Many more Norwegian settlers soon arrived in the community. The first church services and Sunday School were held in the Ronnings’ tent. Services were conducted in Norwegian. In December 1915 the first confirmation took place, with nine confirmands, and was held in the log schoolhouse. In July 1916 a congregation was organized under the leadership of Rev. Ronning. Names of its charter members included Ronning, Melsness, Olson, Hagen, Horneland, Lunseth, Hanson, Teigen, and Storasli. The first baptism in the congregation was of Ella, the infant daughter of E. Heggelund.

Valhalla Lutheran Church was completed in 1926 with the help of many members. Mr. Findan was foreman of the construction crew. Lars Flom, Ted Larson, and E. Oland assisted him in the work. John Viken hewed the trees by hand and Hans Hansen sawed the shingles. Leif Frantzen constructed the altar and railing, and Peder Melhus built the pulpit and baptismal font. Mr. & Mrs. Gust Olson donated the altar picture, an original painting. A plaque on the church reads, “Built in 1926 to the Glory of God.” The church was built on Olaf Horte’s land. In November 1926 the first wedding of church members held in the new building was of Myrtle Larson and Ingvart Heggelund. (excerpted from Scandinavian Connections, Scandinavian Trade and Cultural Society, 2007, Edmonton, Alberta, with thanks to Emily Loberg)

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