The Evjen family of Valhalla area are the recipients of a Pioneer Farming Family Award.
Family members were recognized by the County of Grande Prairie’s Agricultural Services Board for their contributions to agriculture and the County’s heritage during an award presentation at their farm in La Glace on June 11.
Tarril Rosvold says it is a great honour to have his family’s farming legacy acknowledged with an award.
“My family has been farming here since 1914 but there are far fewer farms now,” says Rosvold. “I’m proud to be a third-generation farmer and to be farming with my wife, Karen, son, Olin and his wife, Sarah. The fifth generation – our grandchildren Keatyn, Torin and Lennyn – are growing up on the farm and often join me in the tractor and help with age-appropriate chores.”
Tarril and his wife Karen, who has served as a County Councillor since 2016, began renting land in 1980, taking over the family operation from his parents, Oleif and Ella in 1985 when his father passed away. Daughters Cori Blum and Jenna Kemp also helped on the farm.
The Pioneer Farming Family Award recognizes families who have lived and farmed or ranched within the County for 100 years or more. The County provides a sign for their property in recognition of maintaining and farming the homestead quarter through the generations.
“Our communities have grown and evolved over the years, but our agricultural foundation continues to influence every aspect of the County,” says Councillor Bob Chrenek, Chair of the Agricultural Service Board. “As a token of our appreciation, we honour these families for their significant role in contributing to our heritage.”
Rosvold said his grandfather, Ingebrigt Evjen immigrated to Canada from Norway in 1912, arriving in Bawlf, AB. After spending a year learning English at Camrose Lutheran College, he applied for a homestead in the Peace Country, settling in 1914 at SW-17-74-9-W6M, east of Valhalla Centre.
"It was a simple life with a lot of good times mixed with hardships. The Valhalla area was all bush at the time. He had to break every acre and spent winters working in sawmills. They built and lived in a shack until they could build a house. When my grandmother, Ane Velve arrived in 1922, they married and used apple boxes as chairs, farming with a single team of horses.”
His grandfather’s ability to speak English saw him traveling to Edmonton to buy cattle for his Norwegian neighbours, transporting them by rail. Milk sales to a new creamery in Valhalla provided the growing family with immediate funds for groceries.
“Our operation has since grown to well over 200 head of cattle. Everything has changed since my grandfather’s time when a half section was a big farm,” reflects Rosvold who enjoys exchanging family stories during visits with his uncle, Johnny Evjen, a well-known former Beaverlodge plumber who used to help farm their land and is now in his nineties.
Applications for the 100 Years of Farming Awards are accepted throughout the year. For more information about the Heritage Homestead Award and the Pioneer Farming Family Award, and to apply or nominate a family, visit www.countygp.ab.ca/100years.