Home > Exhibits & Events > Norka Founders' Day
2015 Norka Founders' Day
Saturday, August 8
Edmonton, Alberta
Concordia University Bell Tower on the Campus Green
      The Volga German colony of Norka was founded on 15 August 1767, and for many years Norka's descendants celebrated the founding anniversary. It was called "Herrkommstag." In 2014, this tradition was rekindled with over 150 people in attendance at a celebration in Portland, Oregon. It was repeated last year, again in Portland with a day of programs and visiting. For 2015, the celebration is going to be August 8th in Edmonton, Alberta, another area where descendants of Norka settled in large numbers!

The public is invited to attend.


Because food is being served, advanced registration is required.

Register by July 20, cost is $40 (Canadian or US).
Register July 21-27, cost is US$50 (credit card only).

Registration includes all programs and lunch.

To register & pay by credit card (US$ only), call Tanya Bushnell at 503.493.6369.
To register & pay by check, print the Registration Form and mail it in with your check.
      [To qualify for the $40 rate, mailed checks must be postmarked by July 20.]
Location & Parking

All events will be held in the Lister Centre (Wild Rose Room) on the campus of the University of Alberta in Edmonton. The Lister Centre is located at 87 Avenue and 116 Street.

Click here for parking information. Lots M & R (Can$5.00/day) are adjacent to the Lister Centre. The Jubilee Lot (Can$6.00/day) is across the street to the east.

Tentative Schedule

Registration & Visiting
Welcome & Introductions
History of Norka
Presenter: Dr. Brent Mai, Beaverton, Oregon.
The Volga German colony of Norka was founded 65 kilometers southwest of Saratov on 15 August 1767. The colonies were segregated by faith practice, and those who founded Norka were of the Reformed faith. Most of its original settlers came from Hessen. Brent will give an overview of the colony's history, life in Norka, as well as where Norka descendants can now be found in North and South America.
Brent Mai
Brent Mai
Stories My Father Told Me
Presenter: Marilyn Doige, Edmonton, Alberta.
Over the years, Marilyn's father told her many stories of his large family - some heartfelt, some sad, and some quite funny! Marilyn will also have a display of Volga German food items and quilt that she and her sister made which depicts the family and the area in which they settled in Alberta.
Marilyn Doige
Marilyn Doige
Pastor Wilhelm Stärkel's Legacy
Presenter: Reuben A. Bauer, Edmonton, Alberta.
Wilhelm Stärkel was born in Norka on 13 December 1839. He served as pastor of the congregation in Norka for more than 30 years (1877-1908). Following his theological training in Basel, Switzerland, he served a couple of parishes in Wisconsin (1864-1868) and then began his ministry among the German colonies along the Russian Volga River, first serving in Eckheim and then in Norka. Mr. Bauer will explore Pastor Stärkel's theological training, the development of the Brüdergemeinde, and his role as the spiritual leader of Norka for three decades.
Reuben Bauer
Reuben Bauer
11:45 - 12:45
Lunch & Visiting
12:45 - 1:30
Deportation to Siberia in 1941
Presenter: Dr. Brent Mai, Beaverton, Oregon.
While many Volga Germans left Russia to immigrate to North or South America, most remained there. Following the Nazi invasion of Russia in June of 1941, those Volga Germans remaining in Russia were deported to Siberia during the first two weeks of September, 1941. This is a harrowing episode in Volga German history which brought to an end the 177-year existence of the Volga German region. Brent will share a presentation originally put together by Steve Schreiber that tells one Norka family's story of this deportation.
Brent Mai
Brent Mai
1:30 - 2:15
Living in Siberia
Presenter: Marina Webber, Calgary, Alberta.
Marina Webber's ancestors from Norka were caught up in the 1941 deportation, too, and began a new life in Siberia in the village of Gonohovo which was settled by mostly Norka families. Marina was born there and will share her experiences growing up in Siberia and immigrating ot Canada only 16 years ago. Many of her family members now live in Germany, and she will share photos and stories of recent visits with them as well as a trip back to Norka about 10 years ago. It's an amazing story that stirs up great appreciation for the sacrifices that our ancestors made for our benefit!
Marina Webber
Marina Webber
2:30 - 3:15
Ripples in Time: the Albrecht story
Presenter: Debbie Pietrzykowski, St. Albert, Alberta.
Debbie's connection to Norka is through the Albrecht family. She will give a presentation about the Albrecht family's journey through time: from Germany to Russia and from Russia to Canada.
Debbie Pietrzykowski
Debbie Pietrzykowski
3:15 - 4:00
A Primer on Western Canadian Settlement: With Emphasis on How It Related to Germans from Volga Russia Including Those from the Village of Norka
Presenter: John Althouse, Edmonton, Alberta.
John's presentation will to provide a historical summary of the process of the exploration and settlement of the Canadian West. It provides some insight into why Western Canada was not a destination for Volga Germans when they first began migrating from their homeland and why this changed. There appears to be no single scenario which typifies the experience of all Volga Germans who came to the Canadian West to stop over or settle here, but this presentation will examine aspects that were common to many of these scenarios.
John Althouse
John Althouse
4:15 - 5:00
New Arrivals on the Canadian Prairie
Presenter: Rev. Horst Gutsche, Barrhead, Alberta.
Pastor Gutsche is himself the descendant of Black Sea German immigrants. He has served as pastor of German-speaking Lutheran congregations from New York to California and has most recently been working among the recent German Russian immigrants in southern Alberta. He is very knowledgable about Volga German history and faith practice, and will speak about recent migrations from Siberia back to Germany and on to Canada in recent years.
Horst Gutsche
Horst Gutsche
5:00 - 5:30
Catch-up & Wrap-up
Presenter: Brent Mai, Beaverton, Oregon.
We will use this time to answer any final questions and wrap-up the day.
Brent Mai
Brent Mai

A boxed lunch is included with registration. If you have dietary restrictions, please make a note on your registration form, or let Tanya know when you call.
Hotels & Campus Housing

The University of Alberta does have some on-campus housing available.
Tour to Stony Plain on Sunday

Stony Plain, Alberta, is located just a few miles west of metropolitan Edmonton. A large number of families from Norka began settling there as early as 1889. Debbie Pietrzykowski has agreed to lead a tour of the area which will begin at Hope Christian Reformed Church, 2 miles north of Stony Plain at the intersection of Highways 16 & 779. The day's adventures will also include a visit to the Multicultural Heritage Centre in Stony Plain.
Last updated 11 July 2015.