Telling Our Stories

The Story of Niels Weismore

My father, Niels Weismose, never really spoke about his ancestry. Other kids had grandparents nearby but mine were back in Denmark. It never dawned on me to ask Dad about them. After all, I'd likely never meet them.  

But after my parents died, I started wondering about them and our surname, Weismose.

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The Story of Per and Lilly (née Christensen) Falkenberg-Andersen

Per and Lilly spent their wedding night in a little shack in town. They'd had fun fixing it up and now it was their first home. Early the next morning, they woke up to a loud knocking at the door. They heard voices and laughter. Who could be outside?

Suddenly they recalled the old custom and looked at one another in horror. Here? They wouldn't––would they?

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The Story of Andy Kjearsgaard

Most Dickson boys aspired to become great hockey players and I was no different. We started out playing shinny on the road, a packed field, the river, or anywhere else that was relatively flat.

Goal was my preferred position and I became adept at stopping frozen horse apples with my scoop shovel.

Playing for the Dickson Vikings hockey team was a well-known first step towards hockey fame. When I started high school, the Vikings had a good goalie, Hertel Rasmussen. But he was an import, so the powers that be, decided I should be trained as his successor.

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The Story of Andy Kjearsgaard

Our horses were our farm's greatest asset. We used them year round for anything that needed pulling, or hauling––stumps, firewood, seed, hay, harvested grain, groceries and supplies, or the family. What's more, we grew to love them. Especially May.

May was our very first horse. We rode on her back to school––all four of us. Later, she took us in the buggy or sleigh. She was a gentle, loving soul.

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The Story of Andy Kjearsgaard

Neither Mom nor Dad ever really mastered the English language. So whenever Dad went to town to wheel and deal, one of us boys had to go with him as translator.

On one such trip, I was the lucky one. We were taking a load of wheat to the elevator at Benalto, 25 miles north of our farm. We went by horse-drawn sleigh in the dead of winter. The weather was terribly cold. To keep warm, we took turns walking. But what I remember most vividly about the trip was the drift-covered roads. In some places the drifts were ten feet deep. One two-mile stretch was drifted in so completely, even the bush tops were covered. The wind had packed the snow so hard that the horses' hoofs barely made a mark. Lucky for us, or all––horses, wheat, and Kjearsgaards––would have foundered.

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The Story of Andy Kjearsgaard

Fishing in the Red Deer River was not only a pleasant pastime, it was a way to augment our food supply. Our most effective fishing equipment was an illegal snare wire: a loop of copper wire attached to the end of a fishing pole. We'd wait for a fish to swim into the loop, jerk the pole and haul in our catch. This method required considerable skill and lots of practice. Arne and I were experts.

At the edge of the river, there are many quiet holes for fish to hide. We kept loaded fishing poles beside several holes. Nearly every time we walked along the riverbank, we'd come home with a fish for our next meal.

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The Story of Andy Kjearsgaard

It was a fact of life (and still is, in most cases) that every farm boy had to help out. There were routine chores like cleaning the barn, chopping firewood and weeding the garden, and seasonal jobs like haying and harvesting.

To prove up the homestead, Dad had to clear at least ten acres every year. Around Dickson this meant:
• clearing and burning the brush
• grubbing out and pulling out the stumps
• breaking the soil
• picking roots

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The Story of Andy Kjearsgaard

Kids didn't get an allowance in those tough times, so Arne and I were always looking for ways to earn pocket money.

Stealing Eggs
Every spring, we collected magpie and crow eggs. These birds were classified as pests, so the county would pay a penny (1 cent) for every egg delivered to the Dickson Store.

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The Story of Andy Kjearsgaard

Arne and I liked school but we also enjoyed pulling pranks. We put frogs and garter snakes in our teachers' desk drawers. In winter, we put our frozen inkwells on top of the furnace, then waited for the geyser to blow. Our idea caught on and soon the ceiling was spattered with ink.

When the prankster was identified, punishment was swift. The worst penalty wasn't getting the strap, it was being ordered to sit beside a girl. That horrifying humiliation would keep me in line for nearly a week––but I guess that was the point.

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The Story of Andy Kjearsgaard

We were lucky to have the Red Deer River right outside our door. It guaranteed us a year-round food supply and lots of summer visitors on Sunday afternoons. But our playground could be dangerous, especially for boys who never turned down a dare.

Did Mom and Dad know about our escapades? I often wonder.

Freezeup
In the fall, the shallower water near the riverbanks froze first. The deeper channels towards the centre froze last. We'd skate along the edges, biding our time until we saw it. A narrow gap––just a foot or two wide––of open water near the centre. Perfect for jumping over.

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PLAN YOUR VISIT

Museum Hours: Open May 8th until September 7th. Thursday through Monday: 10:00am - 5:30pm. Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

 

Year round on Fridays: 10.00 - 4.00 pm

How To Get Here: Take Hwy 54 West of Innisfail, AB - Turn South (left) on Range Road 31 in Spruce View - Straight through the 4 way stop in Dickson, AB. 0.8km south on the right.

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Submit your personal story to be part of our Danish Canadian archives, and shared with the community.

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