OF GYDA VARDEN LODGE
SONS OF NORWAY
- 1903 – 2003 -
June 2003, Gyda Varden #21, the oldest Sons of Norway lodge in
North Dakota, proudly observed its 100th birthday!
here for LINKS to various references)
contributed by: Helny
On June 22, 1903, a group of men with a strong desire to preserve
their Norwegian heritage and culture, and to strengthen the bond
of fellowship among them, founded the Varden Lodge. Two and one-half
years later, a group of women organized the Gyda Daughters of
Norway Lodge, and the two groups operated independently until
their 1951 merger under the name “Gyda Varden.” The name “Gyda”
honors the 9th century princess who first had a vision
of a United Kingdom of Norway, and “Varden” signifies a “beacon.”Together,
the two words form the name of a fraternal order which brings
immeasurable joy and fellowship among its members, and which has
a lasting cultural impact on the community and surrounding area.
1968 the Fram Junior Lodge was formed to kindle an interest in
Norwegian heritage among the youth. This made the Grand Forks
lodge a family-oriented organization. Junior lodge members have
repeatedly performed in programs and folk dancing, and have carried
out projects to enhance their culture and tradition.
the early meetings of the lodge were held in homes and various
temporary sites; but later, and continuing for a half-century,
the group rented facilities at the Odd Fellows Temple. Always
there was a dream of having a home for Gyda Varden. In 1984 this
dream became a reality at a cost of $56,000 when the lodge purchased
the property at 1401 9th Avenue South in Grand Forks.
Through fund-raising projects, lefse baking, and fantastic
support of members and the community, the 30” x 60” building
was financed in record time. Soon the hall was painted a characteristic
Norwegian blue, and the interior was transformed into rosemaled
splendor, complete with carpeting and parquet hardwood floor.
In 1986 a 14’ x 28’ kitchen was added, and in 1992 another multi-purpose
addition completed the debt-free permanent home of Gyda Varden
members. On tall flagpoles, the United States, Canadian, and Norwegian
flags wave proudly to show a love and devotion to the “homeland,”
as well as loyalty and love for the “new world.”Gyda Varden’s
membership list includes members from _________ states, ________
provinces, and from Norway.
the years, the lodge has engaged in unlimited cultural, social,
and charitable activities. The annual Syttende
Mai Fest, the Jul
Fest, the Leif Erikson Day
observance, and the lutefisk dinner have become community traditions;
and the søt suppe, rømmegrøt, lapskaus, and lefse have attracted
hundreds to lodge functions. Norwegian
language classes, rosemaling, wood carving, “Norsk Lese Lag,”
Hardanger embroidery, folk dancing, genealogy research, craft
classes, ethnic programs, pancake breakfasts, chili suppers, chorus
performances, corn feeds, lefse baking, bløt kake demonstrations,
bunad making, drill team performances, and pot-luck meals have
involved scores of members at the lodge hall. Here, too, faithful
volunteers have worked unceasingly to construct and improve facilities
and to enjoy life-long friendships.
year the lodge has allocated hundreds of dollars to scholarship
funds to support young people at Skogfjorden Language Camp, has
conducted a sports program to promote health and fellowship, and
has repeatedly participated in such community affairs as the Beautification
Project for the city, and for Scandinavian receptions at local
financial institutions. An award-winning Gyda Varden Hilsen
newsletter is circulated monthly, and a blue-ribbon-winning scrapbook
records the activities of the group. Each year Gyda Varden members
clip dozens of pounds of canceled postage stamps to support Norway’s
TUBFRIM project that aids the handicapped. The
lodge has also made a commitment to support Nordic Initiative,
which is an organization dedicated to maintain a strong Norwegian
program at the University of North Dakota. Through the years,
lodge members have contributed time and resources toward the upkeep
House, which was a gift from the late Andrew
Honve for the use of Norwegian Language students at
the University of North Dakota.
of Norway has sponsored many Norwegian groups appearing in concert,
and lodge history lists such spectacular events as performances
by the Sons of Norway Bjarne Male Chorus, Gyda’s Noronna Chorus’s
trip to Norway, as well as a visit to Grand Forks by Crown Prince
Olav and Crown Princess Martha in 1939. In 1990 members were thrilled
at the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet and to entertain
Miss Universe, the charming Mona Grudt from Norway. In 1999 the
lodge was honored by a visit with Crown Prince Haakon—exactly
sixty years since Crown Prince Olav had appeared here. Within
the last two years, Gyda Varden has been host to events in honor
of the Norwegian Ambassador to the United States, and to our country’s
Ambassador to Norway.
recent years the lodge has developed a friendship with a sister-lodge
in Norway, the BIRKEBEINER
group from Lillehammer. Within the local lodge a sunshine committee
seeks to cheer the sick and bereaved, and each June an impressive
service is conducted to honor the memory of departed members.
devastating blow to Sons of Norway as well as to all residents
and establishments of Greater Grand Forks was the Flood of 1997.
With financial help from the Sons of Norway Foundation as well
as from generous contributions from our sister
lodge and many sacrificial gifts from members and friends,
the lodge hall within six months was completely refurbished with
new floor, new walls, new heating system, new stoves and appliances,
air conditioning, and many other necessities. The gratitude of
all Gyda Varden members must be repeatedly expressed to the many
men and women who spent countless hours to restore the building
to its present beautiful condition.
can record the activities shared by member of Gyda Varden, but
of greater significance is the intangible friendship fostered
among the group. Gratitude is due to those who organized the lodge
and to those who through the years have faithfully sustained its
work. May the ideals and purpose of Sons of Norway ever be upheld
“UNTIL DOVRE FALLS.”
to various references:
and true until Dovre falls",
delegates at Norway’s
Constituent Assembly in 1814, and made the Dovre mountains
a symbol of the Norwegian nation.
Norwegian-American Historical Association
1865 -1914 *
Engen translated by C. A. Clausen (Volume 29: Page 210)attempt
to record the emigration to America from Dovre, a mountain
community located in the northern part of Gudbrandsdalen,
Norway, and to analyze the background of this movement.
search for "NORWEGIAN-AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION"
Melissa Gjellstad and Danielle Skjelvar talk about their new
translation of the Norwegian book: "The War with the
Sioux: Norwegians Against Indians 1862-63".
& videos on immigration, ancestry and history:
Where We Came From: Norwegian Immigration to American.
search for: NORWEGIAN-AMERICAN HISTORICAL.
to the Sons of Norway Genealogy Guide.
på musen for å gå til toppen
Activities -- June 25, 2003
- 5:00 pm - Social gathering at the Lodge
pm - Tour of Ralph
pm - Social hour & cash bar, Ramada Inn
pm - Centennial Banquet, Ramada Inn
Baked Salmon & Pork Loin -- $20.00
Children's Menu: Chicken Strips & French Fries --
Dinner followed by entertainment and dancing to the North
Valley Accordion Band