The donation of an extravagantly embroidered Norwegian costume to Red Deer’s Laft Hus created an emotional moment for Mayor Tara Veer on Thursday.
For the costume, or “bunad,” belonged to Veer’s late great-aunt Anna Anholt, with whom the mayor lived with for a time as a child.
“It is very fitting,” said Veer, that her great-aunt’s sons departed from the usual custom of passing these costumes down through families.
By donating Anna’s traditional regalia on to the Laft Hus in Red Deer’s Heritage Park, the sons are honouring their mother’s wish to build bridges between her proud heritage and Canada, the land of her birth, said Veer, during a short speech at the Laft Hus on Thursday.
It’s “incredible” to give such a personal gift “to the city we all love so deeply,” added the tearful mayor.
Veer recounted helping Anna make Norwegian recipes and preserves while Veer and her parents lived with her great aunt and uncle in Sunnybrook while their own house was being built in the early 1980s.
“She was a very kind, generous-hearted, family-oriented lady,” Veer recalled.
Anna’s wool and linen costume, from the Telemark region of Norway, joined six other traditional garments in the Laft Hus’s collection.
Julie Macrae, volunteer ‘husmor’ (housemother) at the Laft Hus, said Telemark bunads are known to be the most beautiful of Norwegian costumes because of the lavish, colourful embroidery on skirt hems, aprons and blouses.
“It’s fantastic… We didn’t have a costume from the Telemark region, which is where my ancestry comes from,” Macrae added.
Anna’s son, Kenneth Anholt, recalled his mother had it custom-made in Norway in 1972, with traditional materials.
His brother, Dennis Anholt, said he couldn’t think of a better place for their mother’s garment to end up than Red Deer’s Laft Hus, since Anna and her missionary husband Kaspar, resided here for 12 years between moves around North America and Norway.
“In a sense, her bunad has come home.”