Progress Report:  18 October 2002
Ole Hansen Descendants in Canada
September 2002

This report describes travels to Camrose, Alberta, Canada to meet and visit with descendants of Ole Hansen & Ragnhild Juulsdatter. This visit fit nicely with travels to Banff-Lake Louise and time with other relatives.

About a year ago, while reviewing my father’s (Roy Matson) correspondence in more detail, I learned that he had established communications with Anna Aker in Bawlf, Alberta, Canada and then, later, with Lene Nelson Johansen in Dalton, Minnesota.  Dad died in the summer of 1979. I have been fortunate to reestablish contact with Lene & Sverre Johansen’s  daughter.  She, in turn, put me in contact with family in Camrose.

Sometime before I learned of the Anna Aker connection, my cousin, Mike Berg and his mother, Mariann, shared with me that there was a time later in my father’s life where Roy had returned to Strum following a trip to northwestern Minnesota and that he had found something very special and family related.

We believe now that he found the cemetery where his great grandfather, Ole Hansen, was buried: Ten Mile Lake Cemetery, Dalton, Minnesota.  Dalton is located on Interstate I94 just south east of Fergus Falls, Minnesota, and about 200 miles northwest of Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

On September 11, 2002, my wife, Dianne and I drove from Edmonton southeast to Camrose.
We called Lloyd Reed in Camrose to arrange a visit and meeting over coffee at a local Camrose establishment.  “We have coffee here, too”, he said. After nearly six hours of coffee, lunch, and conversation, we declared the day a grand success.   By the time we arrived, plans were set.  We would have coffee at their home, lunch there, more family descendants would join us at 1pm, and visit as long as we might like.

Anna Aker passed away in 1989, two years short of a century of age. Her father and mother were Johan Olsen Aker & Line Andersdatter and she was the last living descendant of them. In fact, every descendant of  Ole Hansen & Ragnhild Juulsdatter that is in Canada is a descendant of Johan & Lene. There have been many and there still are.  My wife and I were fortunate to meet with Lloyd and his wife, Aleta, and Lloyd‘s sister, Myrtle. Lloyd and Myrtle are descendants of  Ragnvold (Robert) Aker. Also joining us were two daughters of Johan Olsen Aker & Line Andersdatter’s first born, Ole Aker: Alice and Edna.  Alice celebrated her 93rd birthday shortly after we were there. 

Of course, we learned much during this visit and enjoyed the special day.
We learned also that like our family in Strum, Wisconsin, who are descendants of Hellene Oldsdtr (Hellene Hansen Bjerkebakken), Ole Hansen’s daughter, so also the descendants of Hellene’s brother, Johan, play the violin. Somehow we got to that topic and Alice and Edna said, that, yes, many of Johan’s children and descendants also play the violin. Son, Hans played, and in fact, Robert, made a violin. Lloyd’s mother played. How special to know that Ole Hansen’s skill with the violin carried through the generations. I wonder when it started?

Camrose is a beautiful community, a beautiful, very Norwegian, community, with the ski jump on the edge . The Bawlf community is nearby, but not much remains, I am told. We didn’t visit that area. One must ask, of course, why did Johan Olsen Aker (Ole Hansen & Ragnhild Juulsdatter‘s son) leave Dalton, Minnesota and migrate to Canada with his family? The answer is as simple as why they left Norway for America: Land. He came to Canada to claim land for his sons and was among the early pioneers to come to the Bawlf district, I was told.

We left Camrose with one more family question answered: Why did Johan carry the Aker name? A paper written by a descendant states that Mr and Mrs Johan Aker are from Toten, Norway. They were baptized, confirmed, and married in Hof Church. They lived for many years at Aker Station, the first station north of Hamar by Lake Mjösa on the east side. There, Mr Aker, Johan, was a foreman on railroad construction. Thus, the family name in America and Canada. Johan chose as his last name, not a farm, but rather a place.