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Topic: The Women of Aspenland
Article: Louise (Larsen) Turnquist
Date Posted: October 15/2012
Main District: Crooked Lake
Decades: 1870's to 1960's
Louise Turnquist was born Louise Marie Larsen on August 2, 1872 in Fauske, Norway. Louise grew up in Norway and met her husband, Carl Martin Turnquist, who was born in Sweden in 1859, in Norway as he had gone there at the age of fifteen to look for work. They were married on August 17, 1889 when Louise was just seventeen.
Carl immigrated to Canada in 1894; Louise arrived in Montreal on May 1, 1896 with their three children, Axel, Gustav, and Marie aged seven, five, and three respectively. Louise and Carl made their home near Gwynne on the east banks of Coal (Crooked) Lake. Their first home was small and made of logs; it was not until much later that a more modern home was built across the road.
Louise lost two children during their infancy but gave birth to and raised eleven others. There were nine boys: Axel, Gustav, Oscar, Fred, Carl, George, Hugo, Alfred and Martin. Oscar and Martin both died during infancy. The four girls were Marie, Annie, Freda, and Lillian. The family expanded greatly as most of the children grew up and married. By 2004, the Turnquist family had extended to include thirty eight grandchildren, one hundred and one great-grandchildren, one hundred and fifty five great great-grandchildren, sixty eight great-great-great-grandchildren, and one great-great-great-great-grandchild.
In the early 1900s there was no doctor in the Gwynne district and Louise soon became midwife for the area. Louise also acted as nurse, often caring for people in the surrounding area as well as her own flock when someone became ill. In addition she was often called upon to perform the duties of an undertaker when someone passed away. She belonged to the Ladies Aid and always "had a stack of socks and mitts" for the Ladies Aid sale. She was always knitting when she wasn't doing something else.
Louise did not ride a horse or use a wagon so she walked everywhere instead. Taking eggs and homemade butter, she would walk ten miles to Wetaskiwin, trade them for groceries and then walk the ten miles home again. She would also walk with her friend, Mrs. Wolden to Bittern Lake in order to pick berries she would can and preserve. Any time she left home, Louise would complete the chores and prepare what her family might need for the day before leaving the farm.
Louise never moved from the homestead, even after her husband Carl died in 1937 at the age of seventy-eight. She lived with her son Hugo, who had taken over the farm and never married. Louise's friend Mrs. Olson moved in with them sometime after Carl's death. It was not until the early 1960's, after she broke her hip, that Louise was moved to a care facility in St. Albert.
The Turnquist home was a welcoming place for travelers. Louise always provided a warm, dry place to sleep, as well as a hot meal for those who needed it. Also, she never refused the Gypsies that traveled through the area, giving them what she could as they passed by her home. Louise was a devoted mother and fondly remembered grandmother who tried her best to make her corner of the world a better place.
Based on audio-taped interviews with Marjorie Tanne, July 2010.
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