Why was I going to Grande Prairie you might ask? Not the place many would go willingly for a few days off but that's how things go when your significant other works away for long stretches. In the spirit of making the best out of being in Grande Prairie, I went exploring.
In 1916 Inga Fimrite was a single mother of 3 when she joined the group of Scandinavian settlers, led by Reverend Halvar Ronning (remember him?), who traveled the Edson Trail to settle the area. A single mother of 3....in 1916 travelling to settle in Northern Alberta..let that sink in. I should remember that when I'm having a tough day with my one child...in 2017.
I just read a story in a book called Unsettled Pasts: Reconceiving the West Through Women's History. The story is called My Mother's Trunk, by Olive Stickney, who was Inga's daughter born in 1914. If you do math, she was 2 when her mother and 2 brothers set out on the Edson Trail. Olive paints a picture of a tireless woman, who was often still awake at 1am and up again by daybreak ready for the days work. Inga was able to trade services with the local bachelors by baking bread and washing and ironing for them while they helped on the farm. Olive remembers her mothers hands being calloused and as large as a man's. "Alone, she waged a winning battle against wind, snow, and drifts. Even at 50 below zero, there were chores to do and, in summer, plowing and fencing to be done." Truly an amazing woman! She passed away in the mid 80's, followed by Olive in 2003. Their legacy lives on.
|Inga Fimrite c.1930 Courtesy of|
South Peace Regional Archives
|The Lutheran Church. A tent, homes and then the schoolhouse|
were used by the settlers until the church was built in 1926.
|Barn on the Fimrite Homestead|
|Map showing the Edson Trail.|
Valhalla Centre is NW of Grande Prairie
Reference Book: Unsettled Pasts: Reconceiving the West Through Women's History
Photos: Historical Photos Courtesy of South Peace Regional Archives