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Curated Submission
Hardanger, Norway; Lower Fraser River, British Columbia
1800s - 1950s
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
Materials & techniques
Wool, linen, cotton, glass bead, nickel alloy; Hardangersøm, sewing, beadwork, metalsmithing
Reidun Siem
From the personal collection of Reidun Siem
Many Norwegian immigrants brought with them a traditional dress known as a bunad, often passed down between generations for over 200 years. This example has elements that are over 100 years old, while some of the cloth has been replaced within the last 50 years. The owner, Reidun Siem, indicates that she continued to wear the bunad in celebrations with a heritage dance troupe.
Siem’s ancestors were part of a wider immigration from Norway to Canada throughout the 1800s. During the occupation of Norway by Denmark, countless native Norwegians endured oppression in their own land and chose to leave their homeland for Canada in the hope of a better life. Along the Fraser River on the Canadian west coast they found a home that reminded them of the scenery and lifestyle they were used to. Although this area was called “Annieville” by British political leaders, the area to the east of McAdam Ravine was referred to among its Norwegian residents as “Trondheim” and the area to the west was called “Romsdal.”
This piece comes from the Hardanger area of Norway, north of Bergen. The makers of such garments recognized group identity and origins of the wearer through the unique colours, stitching, and design of the parts of the dress. This particular piece contains a unique seam stitch that is used only in the village of Hardanger, called the hardangersøm. The lower brooch on the bodice was given to a young woman on her 14th birthday and signalled the farm from which she came. This particular brooch is over 100 years old.

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