Genealogy and family history

Leif Eriksson, the son of Erik the Red, is the first known European to reach North America, in the year 1000. Upon his arrival on the coast of Newfoundland, Eriksson established the colony of Wineland.

The offer of Canadian land parcels to settlers in the 1890s attracted Norwegians to come to Canada. Before that time, Norwegians would cross the Atlantic Ocean, land in Quebec City, then migrate south to the United States. As the American Midwest and Northwest became more populated, and immigration policies more restrictive, the Canadian Prairies became the next destination for many Norwegians.

At the turn of the 20th century Saskatchewan was the destination of choice, and locations with distinct Norwegian names, such as Hagen, Erickson, and Norland, began cropping up. Alberta also welcomed numerous Norwegians. An area in central Alberta was eventually designated as New Norway and the influence of Norwegian heritage can be found in locations such as Skandia, Edmonton, Camrose (originally Bakken and Oslo), Viking, and Peace River. The Gold Rush in the late 19th century attracted the first Norwegians to British Columbia. Hans Helgesen settled near Victoria in 1860 and the first settlement was organized near Matsqui in 1884.

The other provinces and territories later welcomed Norwegian immigrants, but to a lesser extent. In 2001, more than 363,000 Canadians reported Norwegian ancestry. 

Research at Library and Archives Canada

Henry Asbjorn Larsen, 1852–1969 (MG 30 B75) (MIKAN 102739)

Henry A. Larsen was an Arctic sailor. Born in Norway in 1899, Larsen became a Canadian citizen in 1927. He was with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police from 1928 to 1961. He made several trips in the Arctic, chiefly aboard the St. Roch schooner. The fonds consists of photographs documenting his career.

Roald Amundsen, 1902–1952 (MG 30 B29) (MIKAN 103430)

Roald Amundsen was born in Borge, Norway. An Arctic explorer, he completed the first successful navigation of the Northwest Passage as commander of the Gjoa between 1903 and 1906. The fonds consists of documents written in Norwegian with English translations left by Captain Godfred Hunsen.

Otto Neuman Sverdrup, 1899–1902 (MG 30 B18) (MIKAN 98094)

In 1888, Otto Neuman Sverdrup, navigator and explorer, accompanied the Norwegian explorer Fridtjot Hunsen on his first crossing of Greenland. He was also Captain of the Fram during the attempts to reach the North Pole. The fonds consists of records left in Arctic caches by Otto Sverdrup and members of his expedition. The originals were written in Norwegian. There are also maps of Ellesmere Island.

L'Anse aux Meadows collection (MG 55/31 no. 47, vol. 1) (MIKAN 106559)

The fonds consists of the correspondence by Norwegian Professors Bjorn Hougen and Marten Stenberger to Joseph Smallwood, Premier of Newfoundland. The letters, mostly written in 1967, concern the L'Anse aux Meadows archeological site.

Immigration Branch, Central Registry Files (RG 76)

  • 160 Acres frit land / 200 Mill. Acres dyrkbard Land i VESTLIGE CANADA (RG 76,
    vol. 225, file 113228, part 9) (MIKAN 2945660)
  • Movement of five hundred Norwegian families to settle on colonies in Canada under the Canadian Pacific Railway (RG 76, vol. 297, file 273271, microfilm C-7846) (MIKAN 1433031)

LAC holds other records pertaining to Norwegian immigrants to Canada. Consult the Collection Search database using keywords such as a surname or the name of an organization.

Research at other institutions and online

Research in published sources

  • Norwegian migration to America, 1825–1860, by Theodore C. Blegen. (OCLC 6171 )
  • The big ship: an autobiography, by Henry A. Larsen. (OCLC 4307878)
  • The first chapter of Norwegian immigration, 1821–1840: its causes and results: with an introduction on the services rendered by the Scandinavians to the world and to America, by Rasmus B. Anderson. (OCLC 15009732 )
  • The Norwegian-Americans, by Arlow W. Andersen. (OCLC 187313757 )

Search for books on the Norwegians in Collection Search, using authors, titles or subject terms such as:

  • Norwegians
  • Scandinavians in Canada

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