An immigrant’s story

The Donalda & District Museum has some interesting manuscripts in its archives.

Randolph Ole Rasmussen

Randolph Ole Rasmussen

Donalda Diary

The Donalda & District Museum has some interesting manuscripts in its archives. Some materials have been published as parts of books, but a few stories have never seen print before. One of those stories is about the Rasmussen family.

One of Donalda’s earliest pioneers was Randolph Ole Rasmussen who, like many early immigrants, came from Pollock, South Dakota to Donalda, via Ponoka by train.

Sitting Bull, the great Indian chief, was in a way responsible for Randolph’s family moving to Alberta. During the period of unrest in 1890, the Rasmussens were forced to flee to Eureka, South Dakota where they were under the protection of the American military. When Sitting Bull was killed at Standing Rock Indian Reservation and after the massacre at Wounded Knee, the Rasmussens, with new-born Randolph, were able to return home. They eventually left their homestead in Campbell County near the badlands of South Dakota in 1900, after the railway was built which connected them to Canada. They must have been surprised to find themselves in the badlands of Alberta. Eight other families left on the immigrant train from Pollock to Donalda.

The Rasmussen family moved to Donalda in 1902 when Randolph was 11 years old. In his reminiscences, Randolph relates how during the hard winter of 1906-07 he caught coyotes by chasing them on homemade skis, or horseback, and clubbing them to death.

In 1908, when 18 years of age, Rasmussen filed a homestead and settled down to be a farmer at Spruce Coulee. He mined his own coal out of the hills and hauled it to his sawmill to fuel the steam engine. He sawed rough lumber for his neighbours. Randolph married Gundrun Pederson in 1922 at Spruce Coulee where they lived, farmed and raised five children.

Randolph also practiced photography and sold his pictures for $1.25 a dozen. He played a lot of ball and was also active in curling.


Rhymes That Bind Literacy Program, a free program for young children, is having its final day on Nov. 26 10:30 to 12 at the Donalda School library. Contact Peggy (403-742-6700) for more information.

Christmas is approaching quickly. The Sharon Lutheran Church is having an auction on Nov. 27 at 7 p.m. Proceeds go to Operation Christmas Child. Shoeboxes full of good things such as hygiene items, school supplies, toys and candy will be distributed to needy children in Uruguay, El Salvador, Guatemala, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, Venezuela, and many other countries. Contact Mary at 403-883-2469 for more information.

Come to the Village Christmas in Donalda on Sunday, Nov. 30. Hot lunch at noon, followed by Santa’s Shopping Centre at the Drop-in Centre, as well as the country market from 1 to 4 p.m. at the community hall.

Happy birthday this week to Spencer Andres, Brianna Mueller, Logan Erickson, Sandra Nordahl, Donna Broeling, Carter Salmon, Kari Schoettler, Kathleen Kneeland, Shelley Ternes, Skyler Grams, Stefan Banziger, Daniel Lee, Erin Lane, Brenda Gebhardt and Candace Kotz, and birthday greetings to anyone we may have missed.