MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: A comprehensive history book about Swedish people in Canada
The traditional celebration of midsummer includes placing sweet-smelling birch saplings on each side of your front door, as this young couple did in 1905. Both parents are dressed in their Sunday best, no doubt on their way to a midsummer gathering to show off their baby daughter in her new carriage. Their home, unfinished like so many starter homes during the first wave of Swedish immigration, was located in a busy Canadian city.
Skandia House was built in Nipigon in 1909 as a hotel and restaurant for people working on construction of the National Transcontinental Railway at the north end of Lake Nipigon, and transporting supplies. At some point pool tables were added. The construction material was cement blocks, and the ceilings were covered with tongue-and-groove hardwood. First owners were the Olssen brothers, the second owner removed the top storey and used it as a residence. The third owner, George O'Neill, bought it in 1946, keeping it in the family until last year. Skandia House is now a bed and breakfast, see www.bbcanda.com/10834.html. Thanks to Lyn Niemi, Treherne MB, for spotting this heritage building in Nipigon and letting me know about it!
Temperance Hall Orchestra and vocalist, c1918
Most immigrants enjoyed music, and those who could sing or play an instrument were in great demand at church, at dances, and at special events. Hearing live performances of the old, familiar tunes from childhood brought pleasure and comfort to many in the days before recorded sound, even though the available talent sometimes resulted in unusual combinations. The female vocalist pictured above was accompanied by two violins, a clarinet, and an acoustic guitar.
A logging camp in the Canadian Rockies.
Accommodation for this 1910 work crew in the Rockies is typical of the logging, construction and mining camps throughout Canada where immigrants found work. A Swedish foreman, for example, would often hire a Swedish crew, not only so that they would understand his instructions but also because Swedes had a reputation for being hard workers. The man standing on the left, wearing a bowtie, held the position that could make or break a work camp. He was the cook, Albin Berglund.
A confirmation class with their pastor, 1912
At one time the railway companies provided religious leaders with a free pass so that they could tend their scattered flocks. A convenient train schedule allowed the Swedish Lutheran pastor above to travel outside the city to instruct a confirmation class. And the rural confirmands rose to the occasion for their official photo, the boys dressed in fine suits and the girls in elegant gowns, hair ribbons and hats.
A touch of Swedish heritage in Canada.
The photographer said, "Hold that pose for a whole minute", so the children did not smile until he was done. The girls wore the colourful folkdress of Rättvik, Dalarna, sewn by their mother from material she had ordered from Sweden. This 1907 photo would be sent home to reassure relatives that the children were being raised to appreciate traditional values.