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Topic: The Women of Aspenland
Article: Alma (Jerstad) Braa
Date Posted: August 26/2012
Main District: Wetaskiwin
Decades: 1890's to 1980's
On July 14, 1898 Alma Marie was born in Glenham, South Dakota. Her parents were Abraham and Marianne Jerstad. She had four sisters, Sina, Betsy, Ida and Clara, and one brother, Oscar. In 1903, at the age of five, moved with her family from South Dakota for the homestead in Alberta near Donalda.
They arrived by train in Wetaskiwin and had to wait several hours before beginning on the next part of the journey. Alma began exploring and got her foot caught in the rails and her mother had to rush to get her off the tracks before another train arrived. They continued their trip across the country by covered wagon until they arrived at Nils Eikland's where they stayed for three weeks. Here all the girls except Betsy got the measles.
While their house was being built, the family lived in a tent. Even a hen shared the tent. Alma and her sisters were always told not to disturb the hen, who was sitting on eggs at the foot of their bed.
Alma began school at Norbo, the first school in the community. Later, Glen Park became the home school. She attended Bethany Church and Sunday school and was confirmed by Pastor Klyve. She was very active in church, Sunday school and Pegge Forening, which is the Norwegian name for a girl's organization.
Alma's first job was working for a family in Red Willow. However, it was in Bawlf that she first started caring for the elderly people. She worked at the Bethany Sunset Home for approximately three years. The experience she gained here assisted her in later years.
On August 14th, 1927, she married Pastor Braa, a widower who had one son, Raymond. By this marriage another son, Allen, was born. In 1928 they moved to Port Arthur, now known as Thunder Bay, Ontario, where Pastor Braa was in charge of the congregation.
In 1930, they moved to Claresholm. Adella was born here. During the "dirty thirties" the family lived in Bawlf, Donalda and Camrose at various times. In 1939, they moved to Wetaskiwin to open the private Eventide Home, renting the building from the city. During the war and until 1945, their son Raymond served in the navy and Allen worked after school at McCloud's. Pastor Braa passed away due to a heart attack in 1947.
Alma and the children continued to run the home. However, in 1960, Alma decided to make a move. By this time the government was building several homes throughout the Province. Peace Hills was built in Wetaskiwin and was in need of a Matron. Alma sold her belongings, closed the Eventide Home, and together with her "old folk family," moved into the Peace Hills Home to become the first Matron. She had the honour of cutting the ribbon on opening day.
After having been Matron at the Peace Hills Home for eight years, Alma and Sister Minnie Carlson were named "Citizens of the Year". The Wetaskiwin Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture gave them peace pipe plaque awards.
After her retirement she led a new life of activity in her own home and church. She held office in the L.C.W., sang in the choir and visited the sick. She also made many quilts for her family, the L.C.W. and for others to purchase. Alma had many friends in for meals and morning or afternoon coffee, and she always took great pride in her garden.
In spite of her busy life, Alma managed to travel to such places as South Dakota, Oregon, Montreal, Norway, Hawaii, Minnesota and Wisconsin. On some of these trips she rekindled her relationship with family and friends. Alma passed away December 28, 1986 at 88 years, in Camrose Bethany Auxiliary Hospital.
Information compiled in 2001.
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