July, 2012 - Pastor Olav Ryland
Please join us on July 15th as we remember our relatives and friends who died in July. This month our biography commemorates the fifth anniversary of the passing of Pastor Olav Ryland from this world to the next. His widow Ida resides in Innisfail and of his seven children four live in Norway and three in Canada.
Today we welcome members of his family who will visit his grave across the road where stood the original Vang Church. We thank son Evert for permitting us to print the moving eulogy pronounced at Pastor Ryland’s funeral five years ago.
Eulogy - O. Ryland
On the 6th of May 1929 in a small home on an island on the west coast of Norway a baby boy was born to Gjertrud Ryland. Olav Ryland was the fourth son born into a family that would eventually include five boys and two girls. His father Peder had a dream of owning his own farm. A home where there would be room for the growing family of this passionate gardener.
For now it was a house with a blacksmith’s shop in the back, and endless backbreaking farm work. Humble circumstances to be sure. Yet this humble beginning helped shape a man who would touch the lives of people around the world. His earliest companion was his grandfather, a lay-minister who trudged along in wooden shoes while carrying a worn-out Bible in one hand and his little grandson holding the other hand. Somehow this elderly man stirred the small boy’s spirit and created an impression on him that would last a lifetime.
When my Dad’s family did move to their very own farm, Dad was seven years old. He seems to have missed the homestead of his kind old Grandpa, because he walked back there several times on his own. That was a distance of some five miles. Work on the new farm was more than enough to keep the Ryland family busy. All kinds of flowers, vegetables, and fruit were grown…and weeded…and harvested, and finally sold on the market. The work ethic, with which Dad had been raised, never left him. He hated to see any chore undone, and he certainly knew how to buckle down and get his hands dirty.
One morning Dad awoke to the sound of heavy gunfire coming from the north of the island. Nazi warships had entered the fjords of Norway, and the Norwegian forces were determined not to give up their freedom without a fight. However, the foreign occupation lasted five years. Make that five lean years. Many days the family ate only potatoes, vegetables, and occasional rations of other simple foods.
Some days the boys were fortunate enough to have time to go fishing, and their mother would prepare a delicious meal for them with their catch of the day. The war also made a great impression on Dad. He got a sense of what it was like for a people to have their land taken over by an outside force, and he soon developed a keen sense of right and wrong. Although Dad was too young to be involved in any military operations, he always admired the Norwegian underground resistance movement that was active on the coast lands all around his home.
The community he lived in also influenced dad’s sense of right and wrong. Some of the young people preferred to find friends and fellowship with a wholesome purpose, while others sought to spend their youth seeking other pleasures. Early on in his life, Dad recognized that he had moral choices to make about his life.
Eventually Dad finished his Grade 7 (the highest mandatory grade), was confirmed in the Lutheran Church, and set off to be a part of the working world at age 14. He worked on the docks in the port city of Bergen, Norway, and also traveled farther inland to work on some of the farms there. With good farm food and hard work, he kept growing into a strong young man.
Dad’s military service was compulsory, but he went and volunteered as early as he could. He wanted to be prepared to serve his homeland if another enemy should ever try to attack it. He entered the Norwegian Air Force, and was stationed at Sola, near the city of Stavanger. Dad was also starting to get a desire to see and explore more of the world. With his military service complete, he began contemplating emigration with his friends. Would it be Australia, or Canada? Well, Dad had read a lot about Canada in the books of Helge Ingstad, a fellow Norwegian who had explored much of Canada’s unknown North in the early part of the century. A strong desire was sparked in Dad to see and experience some of this vast country.
When a good friend told Dad that they were promised work on farms and ranches in Southwest Saskatchewan, he knew this was it. In 1952, the 22-year-old Norwegian stepped off the train in Gull Lake, Saskatchewan with $10 in his pocket and a strong desire to work hard and succeed.
It did not take long for the local farmers to recognize the young man’s intelligence and work ethic. He was the kind of hired man most of them had dreamed of having. Dad developed skills in assembling and repairing machinery, and in animal husbandry. He also got an opportunity to experience growing some of the grain crops of the prairies. Dad always enjoyed seeing things grow, and he always looked forward to harvest time.
During one calving season, Dad was having trouble with one of his favorite young heifers. He began to despair for the life of the calf and its mother. But an even greater despair was haunting him, as he was aware that he had slipped away from a life that honored God. His mother had sowed the seeds of his childhood faith. At that very time in Norway she was pleading for God to turn her son around from his wanton ways. Dad then prayed to God, not only that the heifer and calf would be saved, but even more than that he prayed for his own relationship with God to be restored. God heard his prayers.
Dad’s conversion was of a significant depth, as he always had a keen sense of right and wrong. He knew that he needed to make choices in his lifestyle that would honor God. The people in the prairie farming community soon noticed that this man had experienced a change. It was demonstrated to them in his behavior.
About this time, Dad was invited to a social event, where a pretty young nurse named Ida Carlson served him tea. In time, Dad learned that she was a well-educated woman who also had a strong commitment to serve the Lord. In the spring of 1957 he asked for her hand in marriage and they started their life’s journey together. Ida’s father Arthur Carlson was a Swede who homesteaded on the Canadian prairies in 1910. He married a local one room school teacher who had come from Illinois.
While Dad’s integrity and work ethic created many opportunities for him in both agriculture and other commercial venues, he seemed to know that he was called to honor God in a specific way with his life. 1958 was a difficult year when Mom lost her first babies, twin sons. Dad and Mom sensed that they needed to refocus their lives on something constructive at this time. They wanted to do the Lord’s work. An opportunity arose for them to work at a children’s home near Montreal Lake in Northern Saskatchewan. Here they were able to start the full-time service that they both had felt called to. Dad found an opportunity to be a friend and spiritual guide to the children, and he also did physical work there, something he always enjoyed.
With the arrival of a little daughter, the couple’s family started growing. But there were new opportunities
calling in Canada’s far north. Dad realized that they needed Cree language skills to be missionaries to the people there. So Dad eagerly learned his third language, Cree, and he learned it well. The next three years the couple spent on a remote Reserve in Northern Manitoba. While living in the little village of Shamattawa, two boys were born to Mom. Dad was now the father of three children.
A small account of Dad’s time in the North captures something of how he learned to respect and appreciate the aboriginal culture. When a Cree man and wife were away on the trap line, one of their little girls was severely burned in an accident. The older children brought the child to Dad, hoping that he could help. First aid was applied. Dad then radioed for the child’s air transportation out from the remote reserve, to a hospital that could treat her. The child survived and her parents were very happy for the help she had received. One day the child’s father came to Dad’s front door and was invited in. The Cree trapper refused water or tea, and he did not say anything at all. It seemed like he sat there for hours, and then finally arose and left the house. Puzzled, Dad mentioned the incident to another villager who could then explain that the child’s father had shown Dad a great honour simply by coming to the missionary and sitting quietly in his presence for a long time.
Dad admired Mom’s knowledge of the Scriptures and Christian Doctrine, and he desired also to take some formal education himself. He was able to enroll in the Full Gospel Bible Institute in Eston, Saskatchewan and complete a three-year Diploma. During this period he was also active in the start-up of the Alliance Church in Gull Lake, Saskatchewan. While Dad freely served in a variety of church denominations and organizations, he never really saw himself as bound to any of them. Rather, he seemed to enjoy fellowship with people of faith from many different groups.
Since the work among Canada’s aboriginal peoples was his main passion, Dad returned to the North after his studies. By now the family had grown to six children, with two daughters born in Eston and a son born in Nipawin in northeast Saskatchewan. Dad became involved in ministry in places like Red Earth, Saskatchewan, and also in the Manitoba communities of The Pas and Cross Lake. His ability to connect with the Cree people was amazing, and he made a lot of friends and he impacted many lives during this period.
In 1970 Dad wanted to take his six children to visit his parents in Norway. Upon arriving there he found that they were in poor health. He chose to stay in Norway with his family until both his mother and his father had passed away. He worked for a short period of time, but soon realized that his call to Christian service also applied to Norway. During this period Dad was instrumental in starting youth and family camps during summer and other holiday periods. He also taught many classes in Bible subjects, and he traveled to many communities in Norway encouraging people and holding meetings.
Dad always considered his time in Norway to be very special. Not only were his children able to enjoy a permanent home on the family farm, but he also renewed his relationships with his brothers and sisters living in Norway. And to make the time in Norway even sweeter, his youngest daughter was born there. Dad was able to make many new friendships with people all over Norway. Anyone from our family that visits Norway today encounters his legacy of sincerity and compassion among those whose lives he touched.
A desire to pursue further education led Dad to return to Canada with his family. In Canada he completed his Bachelor’s Degree, and through summer studies he also earned a Master’s Degree in the field of study of Christian Missions. There was a need for his ministry in Norway, and he returned there to serve as a pastor and a presbyter for churches on the West Coast within the Norwegian Mission Covenant Church. He also learned of an opportunity to teach and mentor Christian leaders in the Philippines and he made several extended missionary journeys there over the years. He was happy to be accompanied by his wife on one trip, and by his two oldest sons each on another trip.
In 1989 Dad began experiencing a significant decline in his personal health, and returned to Canada to live in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan. Over the next number of years he had to deal with diabetes, heart trouble and back problems. But he turned many of these difficulties into something of a blessing. He was, for example, able to speak in Cree to aboriginal people who were struggling with diabetes.
Recognizing his own health limitations, Dad also allied himself with others who were capable of shouldering responsibilities with him. He taught the Cree language to members of First Nations with the support of one of their own people. He also found good friends to accompany him for ministry in the Philippines.
While the time in Meadow Lake was productive, Dad envisioned finding a peaceful dwelling place in which he and Mom could live during his seventies. His good friend, Per Sakstad, who was best man at his wedding, now lived in Wetaskiwin. So this seemed like the right place. Dad also considered himself blessed to be in a city where there was good Christian fellowship, and an opportunity to minister on nearby reserves.
While the last seven years of his life might seem to some to be an odd time to make even more new friends, this was not the case with Dad. He thoroughly enjoyed the retirement community at Northmount. He was pleased to live in a warm and caring setting, where people could age together in a gracious manner.
Dad also found a little spot out in the back country around Bashaw, where he could park a trailer, grow a garden, and invite his children and grandchildren to visit him. He always thought that he spent far too little time out there, especially since he found the neighbours in the campground to be wonderful friends.
Dad sometimes wondered how much more service he had to do on this earth, and when his time would be done. But having applied himself to challenging tasks all his life, he could not stop doing so. Like any retired Canadian, Dad enjoyed fishing, and he loved traveling, but he also continued to study Western Canada’s history with great interest. Every time we were together, he seemed to have gained a little more insight into the history of the aboriginal people and the early settlers. Dad did not ever intend to leave behind anything that would give him honour, but he wanted God to be honoured in all of his daily living. He wanted to ensure that every person he encountered in his journey through life would feel that they were valued and significant to him, and to the God he served.
During Dad’s last months, we asked Dad to ease up on his activity, and think about himself and his health a little more. He responded that he saw himself as too selfish already, and he could not see himself living a life without seeing growth and positive change result from his activity.
Dad had a heart with room for many people. He freely planted the seeds of compassion from his own heart into people’s hearts all around the world. These seeds have grown, and will continue to grow in the lives of the people he touched, even though Dad is no longer on this earth with us.
June, 2012 - Herman Fengstad
Our monthly biography will focus on the Fengtad family as we remember Herman Fengstad the father of Ron a long time member of Vang.
Herman married Violet Mary Lowe. They raised five children: William, Norman, Lois, and Violet Ann. A sixth child Clifford died at 18 months of Meningitis. A closely knit family they farmed in Crooked River Saskatchewan.
Herman was a good farmer, however crops were poor so he worked for the Saskatchewan Department of Highways as a Maintenance Foreman. He soon became known throughout Northern Saskatchewan as "Highway Herman" After his retirement Herman had more time to spend with his wife but continued working part time with a calcium dust control crew. On June 11, 1978 he was tragically killed on the job when he was hit by a logging truck.
A story is told that one day when there was severe flooding on the Churchill river in Northern Saskatchewan Herman and his men were stranded on the north shore of the river where there were no roads. They climbed into a boat to make their way back across the raging torrent. The boat soon capsized and Herman who feared water and was no swimmer made a vow saying: "God, if you get me out of this I'll start going back to church with my wife and children." Suddenly he was able to grab hold of some willows along the shore and pull himself to safety. "It's O.K. God, I'm safe now", he said.
Ron remembers while growing up that the family lived in a one bedroom house and when the youngest child Violet Ann came along she slept in the top drawer of the dresser. Sound familiar, Vang pioneers? Soon after they moved into a larger home. As a child Ron remembers being tucked into bed with a 'Now I lay me down to sleep...' prayer by his mother and occasionally his father would join them.
Shortly before his Confirmation day Ron was hospitalized with a badly broken arm and was obliged to miss this important event. Ron was somewhat older than the other Confirmands and he was not pleased that he would have to continue with another year of classes. His father encouraged him to return by saying: "You're young, you might find it useful some day.
Herman, one of 14 children, came from a solid Norwegian Lutheran background. Herman's father drew on his religious heritage and became an evangelical preacher founding several churches throughout Saskatchewan until he died on May 9th 1977 at the age of 96, one year before his son Herman.
Ron remembers a moving story about his grandfather when as a child of 11 or 12 years of age he was trying to roll a large stone onto a stone boat. He remembers his grandfather driving out into the field in his Pontiac and watching the child struggle. He kept repeating the words: "you are not using all of your resources".
Frustrated, Ron asked him what else he could do. The answer was: "You can ask for help" a lesson not easily forgotten by an impressionable young lad.
Of the 14 children in that family, four enlisted in the Second World War. After the war Gordon, one of the boys, reenlisted in the U.S. Marines and was killed in the Korean War.
Please join with us on June 17th as we remember our friends and family at the regular Sunday Service at 10:30 A.M. I have known most of the people on the above Memorial list. Included in that group is my mother Edesse and my sister Colette who died in the Air India tragedy, the worst aviation terrorist act prior to 9/11. Of the 329 victims, mostly Canadians, 137 were under 18 and 82 were under 13.
Pastor Louis Morin
May, 2012 - Art and Doris Bloom
This month is a special anniversary of a husband and wife who died on the same day of the month five years apart. Art Bloom died 15 years ago and his wife Doris ten years ago.
Arthur was born in the Peace River district on June 11, 1913. His family later settled on the present day home property consisting of two quarters. A third quarter was added later.
Art was a gentle man. He loved animals and they knew it. The pets always came running to him and his two large draft horses were like lambs to him. Carolyn remembers him walking among the pigs and talking to them each individually.
Art suffered from ill health for most of his life as a result of a horrible accident when Carolyn was 2 years old. In those early days Art had been fueling up his tractor by lamp light when a spark from the lamp caused the gasoline to ignite covering his arms and upper body with third degree burns. Doris had seen him running towards the house and she had the presence of mind to run out and roll him in a rug. Later, at the hospital, the doctors had told Doris that her husband would not survive the night.
Thanks to a very strong heart Art did survive and eventually returned home. With no one to manage the farm and a baby daughter at her side, Doris had to take charge and find hired help to keep the operation going until her husband was able to work again.
Art and Doris had three children - Carolyn, Diane, and Lowell. Sadly Diane died of cancer a few months ago at the age of 66. Diane Strauss lived in Chiliwack B.C. where she died.
Art was an avid reader and he kept up to date on political issues. Lowell mentions that his father believed that one should vote for the man rather than the party. Today times have changed in Alberta and we often find ourselves voting for the woman.
Art loved the farm and he was a loyal fan of the Oilers and Eskimos. Lowell, who was a constant companion, mentions that he was very easy to work with and never bothered by an angry outburst. Any tense moment was forgotten the next day. Art died of a stoke shortly before his 84th birthday.
Doris Dahms wanted to be a teacher from the moment that she started attending school. Before there were school buses Doris' parents paid for room and board in Wetaskiwin in order that their daughter could attend High School. Following Normal School in Camrose Doris taught in Brightview and was the last teacher at Sparling School before moving to Clear Vista and later to the city school system. Many Wetaskiwin students maintain fond memories of their former teacher.
Following her retirement Doris traveled extensively, more than once to Norway and Sweden. On her last trip to those countries she was accompanied by her daughters Diane and Carolyn.
We may add to the list countries in Europe and the Middle East plus three or four holidays to Hawaii. While in Asia she was very impressed with the Great Wall of China. Art used to say that his wife would catch a ride to the moon if she could. Along with her proficiency at several crafts Doris was an active and engaging member of the Vang Ladies' Aide.
April, 2012 - Johannes de Goeij
This month we highlight the life of Johannes de Goeij, the father of Jan de Goeij of the Vang district. Johannes was born on March 15th 1914 and he died on March 7th 1976 at the age of 62 years. He came from a long line of dairy farmers in Holland.
His future wife Adrianna was the only child of a family of dairy farmers also. Jan says that his marriage to Adrianna permitted them to inherit Adrianna’s farm from her parents. Where Dutch farms in the pre war period were quite small, this venture permitted the young couple to strike out on their own and with a measure of independence, since Johannes had 2 brothers and 3 sisters on the original de Goeij holding.
Johannes served for over 20 years as a councilor of Saint Barnabas Church overseeing parish activities which included the administration of a school. He also served as President of the County Council, positions which had been previously held by both his father and father in law. On behalf of the Dutch Government Jan’s grandfather was involved in cattle buying, setting up cooperatives and organizing food supplies for the poor in the ‘dirty thirties’ and into the 40's. Jan’s great uncle was a Senator in the Government.
The second world war was a particularly difficult time for Johannes and Adrianna. While they were raising two young children on the farm the father had joined the Dutch resistance against the German occupiers. Consequently it became too dangerous for Johannes to sleep at home during the night. After the daytime chores he would slip away to sleep in some distant barn loft or conduct acts of sabotage.
Jan remembers as a little boy huddling in the night praying silently with his mother and sister when they heard loud knocks on the door of their farm house. In her very old age Adriana would relive these moments of fear as if they were happening again. Later, Jan found an old photo of a wartime resistance fighter friend in his father’s billfold. The man had been shot by the Germans and Johannes had kept the tattered remnant of this memento until he died.
Some of their Dutch compatriots collaborated with the occupiers and spied on their neighbors, betraying many of them to the firing squads while others collaborated with the German occupiers; however without revealing the identity of their Dutch compatriots.
After the war Johannes had deep regrets about the divisions that existed within the Dutch community. Jan says that during the Cold War there was talk of a Russian invasion and that his father had second thoughts about waging another underground resistance. My own feeling is that seeing hundreds of thousands of fellow Dutch Jews being transported to extermination camps such as Dachau, people like Johannes felt compelled to resist such an evil Dictatorship during the second great war.
These were difficult times. The city council of Amsterdam would even sign the deportation orders which sent Jews to the camps. In the north of Holland many were cut off from food supplies and starving to death. Jan says that undertakers were literally waiting on the streets to pick up the dead during the winter of 1944-45, and people were burning furniture and door frames to keep warm.
As farms became larger following the war and people also began milking their cows year round in order to increase production. Johannes would quip: "You people work too hard and no longer have time to skate on the canals in winter."
Johannes and Adriana had one son, Jan, and three daughters.
Later Jan married Ada Agterof and they settled on the home place increasing a 30 hectare farm to 50 hectares over the years. Later, after the government had reclaimed more land from the sea, Jan and Ada exchanged their original farm for 60 hectares of rich soil which previously had been three meters below sea level.
Jan and Ada have four children: John and Arjan of this district, Susan and Karen who live in Holland.
Many other families will be sharing affectionate memories when we meet on the 15th for the Memorial Service. We look forward to greeting you on that day. On behalf Vang we wish each of you a joyous Easter season as we remember our Savior and the free gift of his love.
Pastor Louis Morin
March, 2012 - Mother Basilea
This month, along with your relatives and friends, we will make special mention of Mother Basilea the founder of the Sisterhood of Mary. A two page biography of Mother Basilea including the history of the first foundation of the Sisterhood of Mary will be distributed at the Memorial Service.
The people of the Vang district will take this opportunity to pay tribute to our own Sisters of Mary who continue to contribute to the life of the church and to the people of the district.
In defiance of Hitler, Doctor Clara Schlink (Mother Basilea) organized Bible studies focusing on the Old Testament with groups of women. Twice called before the Gestapo she was released and never gave up her struggle for the Jewish people. During the war she was National President of the Women’s Division of the German Student Christian Movement.
After the war she longed to make amends for the sins of her country. Out of this inspiration came the foundation of three Religious Orders, many groups of Lay Associates, a Central Mother House and Chapel in Darmstadt Germany, a guest house in Jerusalem for Holocaust survivors, several published works translated into 80 languages etc.
The people of Vang are very proud to have a branch of the Sisterhood of Mary in their district. The beautiful Prayer Garden on the shores of Crooked Lake and the ministry of Sisters Eliana and Gordia throughout Central Alberta and beyond is a tribute to the depth of their spiritual training under Mother Basilea and other members of their religious order.
Pastor Louis Morin
February, 2012 - Augustin Morin
As we continue with our usual monthly biographies I would like to remember my father Augustin Morin born on the feast day of Saint Augustine, August 28th 1902 in Montreal. Our branch of the Morins come from a long line of skilled wood workers.
The first ancestor Noel Morin arrived in Quebec city in 1636 and was registered as a cart maker. My brother Michel tells me that Julius Cesar in his history of the Gaelic wars mentions that the Morini tribe to the west of present day Paris had taught the Romans how to build or improve their chariots. A son of Noel became the first Canadian born Catholic Priest and his daughter Marie joined a French religious order of women and was director of the hospital in Hochelaga (Montreal). Through her diary she is considered the first Canadian historian. This published work is available in University libraries.
I was able to visit the house, built in about 1750, where my grandfather Laurent was born in 1866.
In 1918 The Morin family consisting of 12 living children moved to LaFleche in southern Saskatchewan. My grandmother Pamela Joncas had lost her father and her uncle at sea when she was a young girl growing up on the gulf of the Saint Lawrence. Both of these men were sea captains and we were told that they perished at sea while rounding the perilous Cape Horn. This was before the building of the Panama Canal.
In 1930 at the height of the depression the family moved to Edmonton where prospects for builders were more advantageous. With many boys working with the father they soon built up a strong business called Morin Bros. Construction Co. which eventually garnered them contracts in Alberta, Saskatchewan and the North West Territories.
My mother Edesse Gauthier had come from Ontario to Saskatchewan where she met my father. After the usual single year of Normal School she became a teacher in a one room school. Later in Edmonton she became an accomplished pianist and taught music theory and piano at the old Jesuit College which later became the Charles Camsell Hospital. My father had a "Basso profondo" voice and he supplemented his income during the depression by singing on Edmonton’s only radio station C.J.C.A. My mother accompanied him on the piano and they earned the handsome sum of five dollars per song.
Someone once told me that my father could have become very wealthy at his construction business. However I remember him as interested in improving the fortunes of others while also earning an honest living at a business that he enjoyed. As a child I remember the visits of Doctor Archer to our home where the discussion centered around providing medical care to those who could not afford it. Out of those discussions came the construction of the first phase of the Archer Memorial Hospital in Lamont Alberta. Last year an old friend of mine, Brother Jerome Blackburn of the Oblate Order told me that one summer my father recognized the needs of his family. His men proceeded to remove the roof and extend the three room house where the family of eight lived. At the end of the summer the tiny house had become the nicest house on 85th Avenue in Edmonton.
I know that Augustin Morin had his faults as we all do. However one important trait that I carry with me relates to the great freedom that we were afforded as children. It seemed that we were all partners within the household.
As a visual person and art teacher I end with two scenes among very many that have remained with me. I remember as a child after the lights had been turned off at night and everyone was in bed, spying my father kneeling in prayer on a leg that had never properly healed after a childhood fall. The last time that I saw my parents together alive was very moving. I dropped in when my father had returned home briefly from the hospital following a stroke. I had gone into the kitchen in our same old house on 111th street. When I returned to the living room they were sitting close together holding hands tears streaming down their faces as they listened to one of the Beethoven symphonies that we used to share as a family on 33 rpm records.
I realize that many other families will be sharing affectionate memories when we meet on the 19th for the Memorial Service.
We look forward to greeting you on that day
Pastor Louis Morin
January, 2012 - Reverend Knut Bergsagel and his wife Alma
This month our biographical sketch relates to Reverend Knut Bergsagel and his wife Alma Josephine who both rest in our cemetery. Knut was born in Norway and came to the U.S. to his aunt Theodora in San Francisco. When he was able to begin his education he went first to Columbia College in Everett, Washington, then to St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota.
He taught at Camrose College and eventually became president of Outlook College in Saskatchewan, at about the same time as his friend Chester Ronning, who later became a respected international diplomat, became president at Camrose.
Daniel the eldest son of the Bergsagels, now deceased, was a medical Doctor Director of Cancer research at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. The next son John is a Musicologist who taught at Universities in Manchester, Oxford and Copenhagen Denmark. Vang was privileged to have John, his wife and two sons with us at a Service last year. Their only daughter Marion Twyman lives in Calgary. Marion studied art in England and her husband John obtained a PhD. In Geology in London.
Following is a biography of Pastor Knut and Josephine Bergsagel graciously sent to us for our January Memorial Service by their son John in Copenhagen.
From John Bergsagel (Copenhagen, Denmark):
Our mother was born near Cottonwood, Minnesota, 27 June, 1898, the daughter of Johan J, and Martha Anderson. She moved with her parents to Canada in 1904, when her father took a homestead near Stavely, in what was then the North West Territories.
Schooling was difficult but after the founding of Camrose Lutheran College in 1911 she was sent there and after further education at Concordia College in Minnesota and Normal School in Camrose she became a teacher, eventually returning to teach at Camrose College, where she met my father, Knut Bergsagel. Our grandparents, wanting a larger farm and to be closer to Camrose College, where their children were sent to go to school, had sometime about 1922 or 23 bought a farm north of Wetaskiwin and consequently it was in
Vang Church that our parents were married on 14 July, 1924.
(Whether or not the fact that the founders of Vang were immigrants from Valdres, as were his own family, had anything to do with our grandfather's decision to settle in Vang parish, I can't say.)
Our mother was a remarkable woman, an ideal companion and equal partner to our father in all their life and work. Though I don't think we fully appreciated it at the time, she was a woman ahead of her time. She was not only in every respect a good mother, a wonderful home-maker, a good cook, accomplished both musically and artistically, but she was alert to what was going on both politically and socially and to what was needed for the good of mankind. She was early aware of the need for environmental initiatives, for sorting waste, pesticide control, Green Peace campaigning, and such like. She was interested in education and in children's literature and must have been one of the first outside of Scandinavia to discover Astrid Lindgren's books. What is more, quite unexpectedly it was she who first suggested to me the possibilities offered by Word Processing, before I had even thought of owning a computer.
The farm our grandparents bought was located a little north-west of Vang Church. While I can still remember where it is in relation to the church and how to get there, I would not be able to give anyone else directions, however according to our cousin Jon Gullekson it lies about 3/4 of a mile north of where Highway 814 pavement turns west to Millet, the second driveway on the west side of the road.
The lane to the Gullekson farm (Ida Gullekson was our mother's sister), which is now owned by Les Eidick, is on the east side of the road almost directly across from the former Anderson farm. As children in the 30s we happily spent our summer holidays here.
Some time not long after our grandparents moved to this farm the house was struck by lightning and burned down and our grandfather built a fine new house, which is the one we knew and which still stands on the property. It was considered quite modern and up-to-date –– for example, it had running water, made possible by an internal pressure system which it was our (the children's) responsibility to keep pumped up with a large handle that one pumped back and forth in the basement.
Another of the Anderson girls (there were seven beauties and one son, all of whom lived into their 90s), our mother's oldest sister Anna also came to live nearby. She had married Elling Johnson and in 1922 they moved from Veteran to a farm a little further west towards Millet, as I remember, in order to be near her parents. Soon after the death of Elling in 1936 his farm was taken over by Anton Hegge, a Norwegian immigrant who had worked for Grandpa Anderson and who married our cousin Evelyn Johnson.
If I remember rightly, Elling is buried in the Vang Cemetery –– certainly Anton is, as are both of our grandparents, though for some reason I don't believe they are included on your Memorial list. The second initial "J" in our grandfather's name stands for a tautological "Johannes"; there were seven boys in his family and all had "Johannes" as a second name after their father.
Our grandfather was generally referred to as "John" (as on his headstone) or simply "J.J." He was born in Vallers (= Valdres) Township, Lyon County in Minnesota in 1871. His father had emigrated from Valdres in Norway in 1865, but his mother, whose parents also emigrated from Valdres, was technically American as she had been born within the territorial limits of the USA as their ship approached New York on 1 January 1851 (161 years ago today as I write this).
Our grandmother Martha Olson was born at Hřihjelle, near Sylte in Valdalen in Norway in 1871. I am not sure when she came to America, but she and our grandfather were married in 1896 and settled on a farm near the family home in Minnesota. Our grandfather had bronchial problems, however, and in 1904, following medical advice, he took his family (which by that time already consisted of five little girls) north to higher country in Lethbridge in the Canadian North West Territories, thence to a homestead near Stavely and eventually, c.1922-23 to Wetaskiwin.
Our father, Knut Bergsagel, was born 3 August, 1892, in Stavanger, Norway. In 1910 he and his elder brother Endre emigrated to USA, going first to San Francisco, where they had an aunt and uncle. Our
father wanted an education, with a view already at that time to becoming a minister, so as soon as he
had saved enough money working on dairy farms and lumber mills in Oregon he went to school and in 1917 graduated from St. Olaf College in Minnesota. He then enrolled at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in St. Paul and the following year, 1918, he was sent, as a summer job, as a student pastor to a parish at Youngstown in southern Alberta.
Here he came in contact with people from the newly-founded Camrose College and was persuaded to postpone his theological studies for a while and join the teaching staff of the college. It was here he met our mother, Josephine Anderson, and in 1924 they were married in Vang Church. In the midst of the wedding dinner he received a telephone call asking him to assume the presidency of Outlook Lutheran College in Outlook, Saskatchewan, which he accepted. His good counsel and organizational ability were much sought after.
Among other activities he was elected president of the association of Norwegian immigrant societies ("bygdelag") and in 1930 he was invited to come to Norway, as representative for Norwegians in Canada, to participate in the celebration in Trondheim of the 900th anniversary of the Christianization of Norway by St. Olaf.
He administered and taught at Outlook College until 1936, when the Great Depression forced the church to close the school for some years. Our father was now able to realize his original intention to enter the ministry and in 1937 he was sent to Kyle, Saskatchewan, to serve an area embracing four parishes (and two preaching places) on both sides of the South Saskatchewan River. There was then no bridge, so in the winter this meant crossing the river on the ice, or, if the ice was unsafe, being swung across in a basket and when the roads were impassable he was sometimes obliged to resort to skis or horseback.
Having started to play the piano early, it was my (John's) privilege from the age of ten often to accompany him on these trips, which sometimes took both Saturday and Sunday, to play for the singing of hymns, whether in Norwegian or English, on organ or piano, in weather both fine and freezing. In 1942 (perhaps having consideration for the fact that my brother and I were approaching university age) he was moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba. These were war years with different challenges and, in addition to serving his city parish, he was actively involved with the Canadian Lutheran World Relief organization, on the board of which he was a member.
They were good years which he enjoyed. Nevertheless in 1949, in which year my brother and I both graduated from the University of Manitoba, he felt obliged to follow a request that he return to Camrose College as president. However, after some five years in Camrose his administrative talents were again required in Saskatchewan. As he had for some years been a member of the Board of Charities of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, he was asked to take charge of a project to build a new home for the aged in Saskatoon, where he moved with his family in 1954.
This initial phase of the Lutheran Sunset Home proved so successful that it was soon enlarged with nursing facilities that were opened in 1962 and recognized by the government of the province by a substantial grant. Our father retired in 1965, but continued active for several years thereafter as both teacher and preacher –– as teacher, in particular of Norwegian language and literature, in the program of Continuing Education in Saskatoon, and as preacher when his assistance was required in vacant congregations.
Knut and Josephine Bergsagel had three children, all born in Outlook,Saskatchewan:
- Daniel Egil (b.1925) became a doctor and after specialist training in Salt Lake City and Oxford University in England he had a distinguished career in cancer research. He died in Toronto in 2007. He was married to Joyce Sigurdson and has four children.
- John Dagfinn (b.1928) followed a career in music; after study in the USA and England he taught at Oxford and Manchester Universities in England before moving to the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, from which he retired in 1998 and where he now lives. He is married to Charlotte Sřrensen and has four children.
- Marion Ingrid (b.1934), graduated from the University of Saskatchewan and became a teacher and artist. After study in England she taught in schools in Saskatchewan and Alberta until she married John Twyman, a geologist, with whom she returned to England before settling in Calgary, where she now lives, They have three children.
December, 2011 - Cal Hughston
The life that we highlight this month is that of Cal Hughston. Cal, who died on December 9th 1999, grew up on a farm north of Vegreville. He had 3 brothers and one sister.
His father James descended from Irish settlers who had come to Ontario in the 18th century. His wife Ada was of Swedish descent. James fought in both World Wars and died at the age of 55 of Leukemia. Ada lived on and is dearly remembered by her grandchildren.
Cal eventually left the farm and moved to Edmonton where he worked at Woodward’s department store. There he met and later married Patricia Kjorlien who was also working at Woodward’s. Judy, one of Cal’s nieces, remembers when Cal and Pat would visit the home farm all dressed up like city slickers with the latest style of clothes.
Later Cal left Woodward’s where he installed tiles and started up his own tiling business while Pat tended to their two first children Bonnie and Brian. Bonnie mentions that Cal did not own a car at that time and that he would carry pails of grout and tiles on the bus as he moved from job to job. After the business began to thrive Cal and Pat decided that they wished to go back to the country. It would be either to Vegreville or Wetaskiwin. After some pondering they decided that the land and the climate were more suitable in Wetaskiwin. Cal sold the business to his brother in law David Kjorlien and they moved to the shores of Coal Lake.
It is said that they became country people overnight exchanging their city duds for farm coveralls. Brian, who was only 7 at the time, began running around as if he had always belonged there. At first they lived in a granary while Cal built the house overlooking the lake. Bonnie was nine and Lynn was born in Edmonton in October, nine months before the move. In the fall of that year they moved into the shell of their new house literally building the walls around them and raising the drywall as the children scampered around.
Some years earlier Cal and Pat Had bought a new house in Edmonton. That house was still in the early stages of construction. Pat with a child in one arm would hold a piece of gyproc to the ceiling while Cal nailed.
One day on the farm when Lynn was two years old she badly burned herself when she accidentally spilled a hot cup of coffee that had been left on a divider between two studs. Cal was away hunting and Pat had no car. To the party line she went and before she knew it four cars were speeding into the driveway to take Lynn to the hospital. This is one particular instance where a party line was a blessing.
Bonnie McIntosh remembers when the house was finished and family members announced that they were visiting, Pat and Cal would rush to the basement and bring up the table saw and saw horses into the living room where they had sat for months previously. "Sorry" they said "Please forgive the mess, we are still renovating". This ploy avoided the need for scurrying around to do the house cleaning. Being one of the oldest children in the district at that time, Bonnie baby sat many of the present day residents of the Vang district. The original Hughston house was renovated recently by youngest daughter Lori and her husband Jay Cridland. Lori was born in this area and grew up in that same house.
Cal was a creative self taught carpenter and mechanic. People had always been wary of purchasing land in proximity of the lake because water wells were apparently not reliable in that zone. Undaunted, Cal proceeded to invent a well drilling rig attached to a one ton truck. Not only was Cal able to provide good water for his family but others in the district were provided with wells thanks to Cal and his work. In more recent years Mike Carwell and his father in law worked together as they drilled a successful well for he, Lynn and their family.
As adventuresome as he was in some of his schemes Cal acquired many domestic skills as well. As the early farmers, he became adept at canning and his pickles were famous in the district. Lynn tells me that he was always teasing others especially the young; and the tricks that he and Joanne Kjos played on one another were proverbial.
In those days farming was always a cooperative venture. People shared equipment and worked together. Cal farmed with Arnold Kjorlien and Bill Kjos often with the help of father in law Oliver Kjorlien.
Although Cal was a fun loving person who enjoyed hunting and fishing he was also very dedicated to serving the immediate community at Vang and also further afield. He served as a Councilor and then Reeve of the Wetaskiwin County for many years. Cal was extremely fond of his grand children. I am sure that the enjoyment of his role as a grand father surpassed by far all of his other accomplishments.
November, 2011 - Jackie Jevne
This month, along with our war veterans, we remember Jackie Jevne, an active member of the Vang district. Jackie was the wife of Morris Jevne. They had two sons, Tom and Nels and a daughter Ronna. We also remember Tom this November.
Jackie Lakeland grew up in Medicine Hat. Her parents had emigrated to Canada from the Lake District in England. While teaching at Falun school Jackie met Morris at a dance. Apparently her parents had stipulated that she should not marry until her 19th birthday. On June 30th 1944 she celebrated that birthday and the next day on July 1st she and Morris exchanged vows.
Jackie taught at Clear Vista School and was actively involved in the Rural Education Development Association which was concerned with the well being of farm families. She was instrumental in raising one million dollars towards the establishment of the Goldeye Camp and was later inducted into the Alberta Agricultural Hall of Fame. Jackie also initiated the first Alberta Rural Women’s Conference.
Jackie Jevne was a dedicated mother to her children. In 1978 she moved quickly to bring her daughter Ronna, who was at the University Hospital, to the Mayo Clinic. The over booking of flights due to the Commonwealth games plus a looming air strike made it impossible to find a seat. The critical condition of Ronna impelled Jackie to call the Federal Minister of Transport and seats were found in short order.
The ethical sense of the Jevne family was well illustrated when Jackie was severely injured in a car accident at Bloom’s corner. She would carry the pain of a crushed knee for the rest of her life. When the Insurance Company urged Morris and Jackie to sue the man who was driving the other vehicle. Ronna says that their response was that they would never sue a neighbor.
Although Jackie championed the well being of farm families she never quite learned to do "farm things" says Ronna. One day, while she was driving the truck Morris asked her to help him round up a few cattle and Jackie insisted that she could do it while driving the truck. On another occasion Jackie showed her British side as she was mortified when her cat walked into the living room and gave birth to kittens during a meeting of the Vang Ladies’ Aide.
Jackie passed away on November 28th 1984 from complications following open heart surgery. Many people of Vang are grateful that they knew Jackie and she will be fondly remembered along with her son Tom on Sunday November 20th.
October, 2011 - Sarah Jevne
This month we remember Sarah Jevne, the wife of Carl Jevne and mother in law of Velma Jevne of our Congregation. Sarah, nee Freeman, was born on July 27, 1893 in Thompson North Dakota the 2nd of eight children. Her parents, Fred and Mary Freeman, moved to the Gwynne area in 1900.
Sarah and her many siblings always enjoyed playing together. One day, as they were jumping from the granary steps, her brother promised that he would catch her if the reluctant girl attempted to jump once more from a higher step. At the last minute the brother changed his mind and Sarah was left with a lingering limp.
Sarah first met her future husband Carl at Rosenroll where Carl’s family owned a hotel. Sarah attended the Alexandria High School, graduated with a Secretarial Diploma, and obtained a job at the local United Farmers of Alberta Store. During that time Sarah boarded with Belle Fee in Wetaskiwin. Belle happened to be Carl’s older sister. The romance was on and they were married on March 31st, 1913.
Sarah’s younger sister Mary married Carl’s older brother Alfred. Carl and Sarah had 5 children: Clarence (Ike), Tustan, Fred (Freeman), Josephine(Jo) and Robert (Pat). Ike and Pat both went on to become teachers, Tustan and Freeman farmed and Jo became a nurse.
Carl and Sarah shared the love of music. Carl, the director of the Crooked Lake Junior Band and the Vang Choir was always accompanied by his wife. Sarah had a beautiful Soprano voice. Her Daughter in Law Val, who was 18 when she joined the choir, mentions that Sarah carried the other singers along by the strength of her voice.
The Band and the Choir were often called upon to exhibit their talents in various communities. One day the band experienced the luxury of boarding a train for Saskatchewan where they had been invited to perform at the Saskatoon Exhibition. This was a far cry from their usual mode of transportation when choir and band would pile into a farm truck to reach their destination.
Freeman, Val and their children lived in a house in the same farmyard as Carl and Sarah. Farming was a cooperative endeavor each member sharing in the daily and seasonal chores. When Carl died in 1953 Freeman continued to farm while his mother Sarah remained in her house. In the late 50's the family moved in with Sarah until Freeman’s death in 1964.
Sarah’s daughter in law Velma remembers her as a meticulous housekeeper and a great cook. Her flowers and rock garden were the envy of the district. Val also remembers Sarah as a super baby sitter. "She was smart, interested in politics and taught me how to bake bread" says Val. Her grand daughter Bonnie remembers with affection how Sarah used to braid her hair when she was a small girl.
Family, friends and Community were always important to Sarah. When she moved to Wetaskiwin she enjoyed her afternoon Soap Operas and reciting poetry. Already in her 80's she recited a poem for one of the church’s anniversaries. In the 1980's she moved to Red Deer to live with her daughter Jo. Sarah passed away in Red Deer in October of 1989.
Join us on the 16th as we remember Sarah, other pioneers, relatives and friends.
Pastor Louis Morin
September, 2011 - Beverly Morin
Our monthly Newsletters recall the history and anecdotes pertaining to people on the current Memorial List. This month we will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of your pastor’s 1st wife Beverley, a well missed friend of many.
Bev grew up in Espanola Northern Ontario, the only child of Dr. and Mrs. Ernest Boyd. How does one summarize the life of a woman with whom you have spent 30 years? I would say that Bev was a person who established an immediate and accepting relationship with everyone that she met.
From a skid row wanderer to a university academic, from someone pushed to the margins of society because of their lifestyle to a tenant farmer in Italy, Bev was considered a friend. I believe that her three sons Bob, Stone and Jon picked up on these qualities in their own lives.
Clues to her personality go back to her childhood experiences. At age 3 or 4, after watching children walking to Church with their parents, she climbed over the garden fence and followed them to the United Church at the end of Shepherd Street where she lived. A large figure of Christ in the Sanctuary surrounded by children of every color and race affected her profoundly. Sitting with the children in Sunday School she looked up to see her father standing at the door of the church, worried yet pleased.
Jesus and her father were the two most prominent influences in her life. Understanding the independence of his little girl, Doctor Boyd had put locks on every gate in the yard, but to no avail. Shepherd street was home to the Doctors, Bank Manager and a Magistrate while the district called French Town assembled the Pulp Mill workers of many national origins.
Bev’s mother Phyllis Sampson had a heart condition and she died well before her daughter had reached her teens. Subsequently Bev was sent to live with an aunt in Atlanta Georgia where Martin Luther King Jr. was growing up at the same time. Bringing Canadian multicultural values with her she was soon receiving threats for fraternizing with blacks. Hate notes pinned to her door called her a "Nigger Lover". During evening prayers her aunt would always end with the words "thank you God that we were not born Negroes" while her little niece would whisper under her breath, "Thank you God that I am not like my aunt".
Bev later returned to Espanola to be with her dad and attend High School for one year before going on to The Ontario Ladies’ College run by the United Church. Upon graduation she refused a Music Scholarship to the Toronto Conservatory in order to attend the United Church Lay School of Theology in Naramata British Columbia. Following that year Bev replaced a Minister on holidays conducting one week of Vacation School in each of four towns including Aldergrove and Langley. Each week ended with the duty of presiding and preaching at the regular Sunday Service. In one town, at the end of the Service everyone refused to shake her hand except for an elderly lady who said: "Young lady, you have chosen a tough row to hoe." I believe that Bev was not yet out of her teens.
Many years later I had the privilege of returning to Espanola with Bev and witness the outpouring of affection that attended her presence. At a reception organized in her honor in one of the restaurants, Johnny Syroid the Syrian Haberdasher gave a speech thanking the uptown girl who chose to befriend the people of French Town in Espanola.
This month Vang, her family, and friends will gather to commemorate the 10th anniversary of her passing along with a memorial to our other friends mentioned above.
Sincerely, Pastor Louis
Cora Brown, Phyllis Hodgson, Lorna Kjos
Three women on the Memorial list for the month of August were a part of the same close family circle. Cora Brown and Phyllis Hodgson were both sisters of Lorna Kjos. Stansbury was their maiden name. Constance Kjos was Lorna’s Mother in Law.
Cora was married to Bert Brown who later became the Wetaskiwin Fire Chief. Cora herself was in charge of the Brown Fruit Company. Bert and Cora had two daughters; Corinne and Barbara.
Phyllis, auntie Babe as she was called, married Art Hodgson. While they lived in Edmonton, Art held an important position at the Workmen’s Compensation Board and Phyllis was the Loans Manager at the Main Branch of the Bank of Montreal on Jasper Avenue. When they eventually moved to Wetaskiwin Phyllis assumed the position of Loans Manager at the Bank of Montreal in Wetaskiwin. Phyllis had two sisters and two brothers. Her brother Bud was a Geologist in Calgary and another brother James (Buster) had enlisted in World War II. Buster died at age 39 leaving behind his wife Helen. They had two children, James and Lorraine.
Sherry Peters says that both Cora and Phyllis were awesome baby sitters. Cora was very involved with her own grand children and Phyllis, who had no children of her own, was simply Auntie Babe to everyone including nieces, nephews and all their children.
Constance (Connie) Kjos was the mother of Bill Kjos. A Maxwell by birth, Connie had two sisters and many brothers. Her sister Aileen Stafford is well remembered in this district. Connie was widowed when her husband Elmer died at a fairly young age. Her only son Bill, who worked away from this area, was called home to take over the farm.
Some of her grandchildren remember fondly the train trips with her to Chilliwack and Grande Prairie in a sleeping car. Special treats always awaited the children in Chilliwack where grandma’s sister owned one of the early Dairy Queens.
At home the grand children remember that cooking pancakes for them was her specialty.
In her later years Constance was quite adventuresome for her generation, traveling to Scotland where the Maxwell roots were strong and even visiting Norway, the country of her husband’s ancestry.
As is our custom a rose will be given to each extended member of the families that are remembering a loved one who died in August. See you on the 21st.
Dorothy Anderson, Winnifred Penteluik
Dorothy Anderson and Winnifred Penteluik died within a few days of one another. These women were the mothers of Vern and Judy Anderson.
Vern has two sisters: Bev Martin, the mother of Kevin the Olympic and International curling champion, and Iris Gira. Judy has two brothers: Robert and Stephen. Vern was the Middle child and Judy was the eldest.
The Andersons lived on a farm 6 miles N. E. of Killam. Theirs was the simple lifestyle of mixed farming with grain crops, cattle and pigs, selling cream and eggs as important sidelines. Dorothy loved her enormous garden and the canning involved at harvest. Vern tells us that they traveled to Camrose once a year in the fall to buy winter cloths, a distance of 43 miles. This was their only trip away from the farm.
In stark contrast to his early family experience Vern now drives 700 kilometers every night of the work week.
In 1969 the family moved to Killam where Art worked for the town. As on the farm the work partnership of the couple continued. They both were custodians at the Killam Public School. Dorothy loved bowling and bingo during those years.
The Penteluik life contrasted vividly with that of the Andersons. While the Andersons never left the farm, Steve Penteluik, a member of the R.C.M.P, moved his family to many postings during his career.
Steve, who was born in Insinger Saskatchewan, met and married Winnifred Shephard in Cornerbrook Newfoundland. Judy was born in St. John’s Newfoundland and remembers that they lived in Toronto, Dawson Creek, Whitehorse, Hay River and Haines Junction. Steve retired from the R.C.M.P and used his police expertise working in turn as an Insurance Adjuster and later for Immigration Canada and Consumer and Corporate Affairs.
During that period they lived in Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg and Sherwood Park.
Winnifred was a very gregarious and sociable person, and she took the frequent moves easily in stride. Judy mentions that wherever they lived they were able to visit family in Saskatchewan once a year. Winnifred and Steve were also partners at work as well as in life. In many police postings before the time that there were female officers Winnifred would help out when women were taken into custody. She regularly invited single police officers to their house for meals and responded to the needs of others when she perceived them.
During her last days at the Wetaskiwin Hospital she noticed that her room mate admired her alarm clock. Later, when Judy took her mother shopping, Winnifred purchased a clock for the woman who by now had become her friend.
We are grateful for the examples of these two enterprising women and for the lives of all who are remembered during this month.
Today we highlight Zabra Leverth and her Son-in-Law George Jones. They both died this month in 2003.
Zabra and her husband Alex farmed three quarters in the Vang district. When I knew them I never saw them apart. Their daughters Sharon Gullekson and Arlie Jones mention that their parents always worked together at the busy occupation of running a mixed farm. Besides having cattle, dairy cows and harvesting large grain crops they raised 3000 chickens, a number unheard of in the district at that time. The eggs were sold for hatching and to stores in the area. One can easily imagine the labor involved in candling such a large quantity of eggs, a labor that was shared by Sharon and Arlie.
Alex was a self learned master at all trades. We can envision the surprise of Zabra upon arriving home with their first daughter Sharon to see an eight volt lamp burning in the house. They were the first family in the district to enjoy the benefits of electricity. In fact the daughters never saw a coal oil or Coleman lamp in their house.
Alex was the first person in the district to purchase a round baler. They were smaller in those days. He also partnered with Morris Jevne in purchasing the first self propelled combine of the district. The combine that he later purchased on his own now sits in the farm display at the Reynolds Alberta Museum. Alex quickly became a Service man for the rural telephone company while setting up his own wind charger and purchasing the first rubber tired tractor in the district.
Zabra, who grew up in Millet, had worked as a telephone operator in Wetaskiwin.
George Jones, husband of Arlie Leverth, was also skilled in a number of areas. Zabra and Alex were pleased as their years advanced that George, who had grown up on a farm in the Ponoka district, offered to continue farming on the family land. Before turning his attention to the farm George acquired the professional skills needed to work at the Rimbey gas plant and later in Rocky Mountain House as a steam fitter.
George was the eldest of five children. He was followed by sister Linda, brothers Leonard and Rolly and sister Jenifer. Rolly lives in the Vang district and is married to Joanne Kjos.
George loved farming and music. He played the guitar, accordion and piano. George was intrigued by computers and owned one as early as 1983 while the rest of us struggled with mechanical typewriters. Arlie tells me that George never forgot friends and family.
In the same way Vang will not forget all of our friends and relatives who have gone before us and we invite you to join us on every third Sunday of each month as we remember them.
May God bless you and may you be a blessing to one another as we prepare to welcome the summer solstice.
Mr. Freeman Jevne was the husband of Velma (Val) Lundblad and the father of Clarence, Bob and Bonnie Scott. He succeeded his father Carl as the Director of the Vang Church Choir. Carl had been the Director of the famous Crooked Lake Band that was invited to the Saskatoon Exhibition. As of last month a full photo of the Band donated by Val Jevne can be viewed in the Vang Church.
Carl’s wife Sarah was the first burial that I presided over when I came to Vang 22 years ago. Sarah was 96 when she died. Freeman Jevne’s early death was a heavy blow that affected his wife and loved ones deeply. He was sorely missed also by the Vang District where he was known to love and respect his neighbors.
I am told that he was a very kind man and was proud of his family and loved his wife dearly. Freeman believed in education and encouraged his children to excel. He was a good husband, a good father and a good neighbor; a man who never held a grudge. Ronna Jevne, who had been Freeman’s piano player in the Vang Choir, quotes Freeman in her book ‘The Voice of Hope’: "Have no regrets in life. Go to sleep as if it was the last day of your life."
At a time when most Albertans, as today, were wary of Social Democratic movements Freeman, as his father Carl, was a staunch supporter of the C.C.F. (Now N.D.P.) Party. As a forward thinking farmer he was the first person in the district to purchase a square baler.
Besides leading the Vang Choir and playing the trombone Freeman coached Baseball teams and was on the executive of the Farmer’s Union of Alberta. Freeman died of kidney failure on May 26th 1964. At that time his wife Val was only 39 years old. His children, Clarence, Bob and Bonnie were respectively 19, 15 and 9 years old. I was told that during his last month in the Colonel Mewburn Hospital he had drawn up a plan for the crops that he wished to plant that spring. Shortly after that he lapsed into semi consciousness and died.
Freeman loved his horses and would trail them to pasture on the other side of Crooked Lake. He missed very few Rodeos even during haying season. After he and Clarence had brought the horses the long way around the lake from their farm he would be met by Val for the return home in the truck while Clarence carried on with the two trail horses. I can still imagine him now trailing horses in the district waiting for his beloved wife to join him.
The Last 24 Hours of the life of Jesus
A day began at 6 AM (the first hour) and ended 12 hours later at 6:00 PM (the 12th Hour)
Jesus died at the 9th hour (3:00 PM)
The hours below will follow our time calculation
6.00 - 9:00 PM. The Last Supper and Institution of the Eucharist
9:00 - 11:00 PM The last discourse with the Apostles
11:00 PM - 1:00 AM The Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane
1:00 AM - 2:00 AM Jesus appears before Ananias the father in law of Caiaphas. (Caiaphas was the High Priest that year) He had counseled the Jews: "It is better for one man to die for the people"
2:00 AM - 4:00 AM Jesus before Caiaphas
4:00 AM - 6:00 AM Jesus is held in seclusion until the first hour of the day so that proceedings against him can begin. He is taunted by the Roman Cohort.
6:00AM - 7:00 AM Jesus before Pilate the Roman Governor
7:00 AM - Jesus is sent to Herod (A Jew appointed Tetrarch by the Emperor Augustus)
8:00 AM - 9:00 AM Jesus before Pilate a final time.
9:00 AM - 10:30 AM Jesus mocked by the soldiers. (The crown of thorns)
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM The Way of the Cross
12:00 Noon - Jesus on Golgotha
3:00 PM Jesus Dies
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM - Jesus placed in the tomb. (As the solemn Passover Sabbath began at 6:00 PM Jesus had to be moved before that time)
Our biographical sketch this month is of George Oleksiuk. George is not from this district nor is he known in this area. However, he was involved very actively in the lives of two people of this district Allen Eng and your Pastor.
George was the Provincial Organizer of the N. D. P. Party while Allen Eng was the Provincial President of that party. He was also the neighbor of Pastor Louis and his wife Bev for many years in Stony Plain. While Allen and George worked together under the leadership of Ray Martin the Party was able to elect 16 members to the Alberta Legislature, the largest number of N.D.P. Legislative Members that the party had ever seen in a very conservative Alberta. This was a period of elegant and respectful politics if one might use those words. Grant Notley the former Provincial Leader of the NDP had been on friendly terms with Peter Lougheed the Premier of Alberta.
George Oleksiuk was born in the Smoky Lake area within the Ukrainian heartland of Alberta. He met his wife Leona while they both worked at the University of Alberta Hospital. George soon became involved in Labor and Social Justice issues when he moved to Toronto where he was Shop Steward at the de Havilland aircraft factory. He worked for the C C F Party (later to become the NDP) and campaigned for David Lewis and his son Stephen.
George’s wife Leona reminisces about the times when David Lewis would meet with them at their home. George was socially and politically active at perhaps the most dynamic period of Canadian history. People such as Lester Pearson, Tommy Douglas, David and Stephen Lewis, Pierre Trudeau and others were the architects of the Canada that we know today. Words such as Nobel Prize for Peace, Medicare, Social Justice, the Socialist Movement, Justice reform and the abolition of the death penalty, the Canada Pension Plan, Multiculturalism, Peace Keeping, Peace Brokers and the Just Society defined those times. Canada’s international reputation reached heights that it had never seen before. We had also become a leader on the North American stage and had ceased to be simply imitators of our neighbors to the South by developing our own national Ethos and an independent international strategy.
By remembering people like George we can again reinvest our energies in applying the Social Gospel as it is found in the life of Jesus. Our friend Allen Eng summarizes the life of George Oleksiuk: "He was a fine man. He cared about people".
Pastor Louis Morin
Alf Jevne, Arnold Kjorlien
We continue our series relating to the history of some of the families that we remember this February. Alf Jevne was born in 1913 and died on this month in 1989. His wife Evelyn Beavo predeceased him by only 3 months on November 19th 1988. Alf’s birth name Haukas was changed to Jevne when he was adopted by P. T. Jevne, Millie Lerohl’s father.
Alf had 2 brothers who were also adopted by other families when their mother Ellen died shortly after the birth of her last son. Consequently the three brothers acquired three different family names. Brother Birger Lind was born in 1911 and Alf’s younger brother Elmer Moen was born in 1915. We also remember Birger Lind this month.
Alf’s wife Evelyn taught in different schools of the district. It is told that she rode her bicycle to a country school when she lived in Wetaskiwin. In those days some teachers boarded with local families moving from home to home during a school year.
Alf farmed with Elmer Furuness for a while and then continued on his own and drove a school bus until Bill Kjos took over his route. Alf and Evelyn’s daughter Janice won the Governor General’s award when she was in grade nine.
Arnold Kjorlien, was the son of Oliver and Lillie Kjorlien. David Kjorlien was his brother and Patricia Hughston his sister. Arnold had three children: Blaine of Wetaskiwin, Brenda Kroschel of Acme and Cathy Kjorlien-Mjolhus who lives in Bryne, Norway. Arnold’s son Blaine is responsible for launching and maintaining the Vang Web Site.
Arnold farmed and raised his family one mile east of the church road and immediately south. His first wife and the mother of his children was Eileen Grams who died in 1968. Arnold met his wife Eileen when he traveled to Hay Lakes in order to purchase a Bull. His mother Lillian used to joke that Arnold went to buy a bull and came back with a wife.
Later Arnold married Dorothy Westendorf. They were married for 10 years until Arnold’s death in 1982.
Arnold Kjorlien became the President of the Clear Vista Parent Teacher’s Association and an executive member of the Farmer’s Union. In the late 70's Arnold retired from farming and owned a Holiday Trailer Dealership in Wetaskiwin. It is told that he worked at developing an acute memory to the point that he never forgot the names even of an occasional customer.
Arnold was a wise and industrious father who was well liked in the district. His moral values continue to inspire his children to this day.
Best wishes as we remember with fondness our predecessors.
Alma Polei, Emma Woitt
As is our custom we draw your attention to some families whose deceased members will be remembered on January 16th.Alma Polei and Emma Woitt were sisters from the Winter family of the Peace Hills district west of Wetaskiwin. They had one brother Arthur and a sister Frieda Furuness.
Alma was the wife of Theodore Polei and the mother of Shirley Johnson of the Vang Church. The Polei family spoke German at home mainly because of Grandma Polei who lived in the same yard and did not speak English fluently. The story goes that Alma would speak to her daughter Shirley in German when she was dating Dale Johnson. I believe that she was probably telling Shirley to behave herself as Dale patiently stood by.
Shirley had a sister Irene and a brother Dennis. Apparently they were never reluctant to fill Grandma Polei’s wood box because there was always a tiny glass of wine waiting for them. Shirley still has that glass along with other fond memories.
Charles Hoyle, the father of Jim Hoyle and the husband of Jean Wilson is also remembered along with his uncle Robert.
His family recounts a very moving story about Charles as a child. While he was hospitalized with Polio a power failure occurred at the hospital. Sensing that the life of a young girl in an iron lung might be in peril, Charles was able to crawl into the next room and operate the manual air pump until nurses arrived.
The father of Jean Hoyle was wounded in the First world War at Passendale (Southern Belgium) and presumed dead until he later showed up at his home in Canada with a wife on his arm. Apparently his identification tags were lost after he had been wounded and he could not be identified during the months that he spent recovering in a British hospital. When he was well enough he married the nurse that had cared for him.
May the Peace of the Lord and the memory of the wonderful event at Bethlehem remain with you throughout the year.
Lars and Millie Lerohl
As a regular feature of our monthly Newsletter we have been highlighting details from the history of some of the families listed on our monthly Memorial Service list. Lars and Millie Lerohl owned the farm immediately across the road from the Vang Church. Lars was born in 1901 in the Valdres region of Norway while Millie was of the Jevne clan of Vang and was born in 1903.
Before her marriage Millie was the bookkeeper at the Driard Hotel. After arriving in Canada at age 29 Lars worked on a farm in Provost.
Four sons were born to the couple: Milburn, Thorstein, Bert and Chris. Sadly, Chris, the youngest, was killed in a motor vehicle accident in his early twenties.
Ronna Jevne tells the story of packing her little orange suitcase and going over to the Lerohl house where she was greeted as the daughter that Millie never had. Ronna reminisces about the decorated gingerbread cookies that Millie had waiting for the students as they walked home from the Sparling School.
Lars and Millie later retired in Wetaskiwin. Today we also remember Marilyn, the wife of Thorstein Lerohl. Marilyn lived in Edmonton where she met her future husband, a teacher and later school principal. Marilyn’s father trained pilots during the second world war and was killed in a tragic training accident when she was a young girl.
Vang War Veterans - The Sehlins
November is a particularly important month at Vang as we remember many of our family members as well as the war veterans from our district.
From early Christian times November has always been the month when we remember the deceased. November celebrations began on the Holy Eve (Halloween) of the feast of All Saints. All Saints Day, November 1st., was followed by the Fest of the Dead on November 2nd. when people visited the family graves. Even from early prehistoric times people felt a closeness to the deceased and did not have the fear of death that has crept into our civilization.
This month we remember the extraordinary lives of the Sehlin men. The father, Henry Sehlin, and his five sons were in uniform during the second world war. Corporal Henry Sehlin enlisted in the first Great War in the 151st Central Alberta Battalion and served in France and Belgium with the 78th Winnipeg Grenadiers, was twice wounded and served nearly four years.
Henry later enlisted in W.W. II for active duty with the R.C.A.F. and served for nearly five years at various Air Force stations across Canada. Private Thomas Sehlin enlisted with the 49th Edmonton Regiment at the outbreak of the war in 1939, served six years overseas and saw action in Sicily and elsewhere in Italy. He reenlisted again in 1951.
Pilot Officer Donald L. Sehlin enlisted in the R.C.A.F. in November 1942, was posted overseas and was mentioned in dispatches for excellent work on air operations over Stuttgart Germany. He served as an air gunner in a Lancaster Bomber and was killed on March 31st, 1944.
Private James C. Sehlin enlisted in 1950 and went to Korea in the fall of the same year. James died recently and his remains were placed in the Wetaskiwin Memorial Cemetery.
Lieutenant Corporal Ross D. Sehlin enlisted in 1950 and went to Korea in the spring of 1951.
Sea cadet Edward E. Sehlin, not old enough for active service during W.W. II, also followed the family tradition by wearing the uniform. He later served in the Alberta Armored Car Regiment of Wetaskiwin and was a member of the Troopers.
Two son-in-laws of Henry also served in the armed forces during W.W. II: Lloyd Peterson, R.C.A.F. and Helmer Furuness with the Royal Canadian Engineers.
This month we highlight the family of Melvin Zimmel who died in 1985. He was the father of Judy Mullin a member of the Vang Church Council.
Melvin was married to Laverne Richardson. They had five children: Charles (deceased), Betty, Judy and Leona of Wetaskiwin and Iona of Calgary. Iona and Leona were twins.
The Zimmels were a close Catholic family and they loved working together. That cooperative trait still persists today among them and their extended families. It is said that every Sunday Melvin, the father, would take over the cooking chores for the family meal while the mother and the children would work (or rather play together) at gardening. I hope that other men will take note of this life style. This could be an important key to a happy family life.
Judy Mullin’s aunt Gladys Zimmel died this very month.
Connected to the Mullin clan is Tom Murphy, the uncle of Judy’s husband Rod. Tom and his wife Lillian lived in Jasper where Tom was the gentleman Barber at the Pyramid Hotel; and Lillian, Margaret Mullin’s sister, was a Hair Dresser.
Although they were unable to have children they virtually adopted their nephews and loved them as their own. Their frequent arrivals at the home of John and Margaret Mullin was one of the important highlights of their lives. There were often very special original gifts such as the championship Speckled Trout that Tom had caught in a Mountain lake, cleaned and delivered immediately to the Mullins for a family dinner. Margaret Mullin’s last sibling Isabelle Fee died this last Monday October 11.
Lil Kjorlien, Pat Hughston
Every month we occasionally highlight a few people that we remember. This month I draw your attention to Lillie Kjorlien and her daughter Patricia Hughston.
Lillie was the wife of Oliver Kjorlien, the first ever baby baptized at Vang in 1899. This baptism is considered the founding act of the Vang Congregation. Oliver and Lillie farmed in the district and raised three children Arnold, David and Patricia.
Pat, who we also remember today, married Cal Hughston. They raised a family on land overlooking beautiful Coal Lake. Their children were Brian, who is sadly missed due to his untimely death, Bonnie McIntosh, Lynn Carwell, and Laurie Cridland.
Gramma Kjorlien and Pat were very good friends and fun loving. A neighborhood bowling team that they belonged to was called the "Dairy Queens’ because they were all farm women. They would meet every Tuesday without fail. Other members of the team included Irene Jevne, Lorna Kjos, Esther Dahms and perhaps Zabra Leverth.
In her late 50's or early 60's Patricia was the skip of a curling team that won the Wetaskiwin Ladies’ Open Curling Bonspiel drawing teams from all over the province. Pat’s mother Lillian and Zabra Leverth, who were close to their 80's were part of the championship team along with Mildred Wilson. At about that time the team entered a Curling bonspiel in Millet and since Mildred Wilson was unable to play Pat recruited her daughter Lynn as a replacement. I wonder if the Guiness Book of Records has ever recorded a women’s curling team involving three generations.
Growing up as a Hughston Lynn thought that everyone was a curler. Lillie and her daughter Pat belonged to the local "Ladies Aid" and were generously involved in many gatherings, catering to dances and weddings in the district . They will be remembered fondly by us all when we gather on September 19th .
View the most recent memorials on our Announcements Page