A Serendipitous Connection: Tracing My Father’s Roots in No, Denmark

A Serendipitous Connection: Tracing My Father’s Roots in No, Denmark

Last year, I had the wonderful opportunity to get in touch with the historical archive in No, Denmark, with the purpose of purchasing a book they were offering for sale. This book, focused on the history of the parish, held special significance for me as my father was born there. Given my passion for genealogy, adding this valuable resource to my personal library felt like a momentous occasion.

The correspondence with the historical archive took an unexpected turn, leading to a delightful request. They asked me to write an article for the parish newsletter, focusing on my father and his life. This proposition thrilled me, as it offered a chance to share my father’s intriguing journey with the local community. Many of the current residents could still fondly remember him as a young man before he embarked on his journey to Canada.

Embracing the opportunity wholeheartedly, I poured my heart and soul into crafting the short article, reminiscing about my father’s remarkable experiences as a young man arriving in Canada not speaking any English. The December 2022 issue (page 18) of the parish newsletter featured my article, and it brought me immense joy to share his story as a successful immigrant with his former neighbours.

Indeed, this unexpected chain of events turned out to be a serendipitous moment, blending my passion for genealogy with a heartwarming connection to my father’s roots in the parish. My original English text is below.

My father, Erling Pedersen, was born in 1939 to Mads and Anna Pedersen of Høvring, one of eight children. He left school at 14 to work at his father’s gravel pit, and later at other farms as well as fishing on the North Sea.

Between 1959 and 1961, he and his brothers Eli and Jens emigrated to Canada. He arrived in Halifax in 1960, unable to speak English, and took the train 4,800 km across Canada to Edmonton, wearing a tag that displayed his destination. He travelled north to Athabasca to work on a farm.

He also worked in road construction as he learned to speak English. By 1963, Erling had purchased 65 hectares near Boyle for $6000. He met my mother Marthe at a dance in 1964 and they married in 1966. My brother Neil was born in 1967 and I was born in 1970.

Erling spent many years working on oil rigs and was eventually promoted to rig manager, responsible for all rig operations. He received numerous safety awards for his rig management. My father left the rigs in 1984 to farm full time, purchasing more land for grain farming. Over the years, my parents raised cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, and for five years, mink. He enjoyed restoring old tractors and grain trucks, and displayed his work in local parades.

He visited Denmark several times and hosted visits to Canada by his parents and siblings. Erling Pedersen died in 2005 from cancer. My mother still lives on the original quarter while my brother took over the family farm.

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