Dormitory Coffee House (Dickson, AB) – Viking Day 2011

Viking Day. The first word that came to mind was “Awesome!” I had just moved to Red Deer earlier in the summer and found myself bored. I stumbled across the Red Deer Tourism web site and on there was a list of events in the surrounding area. Luckily, on that day, it was Viking Day at the Danish Canadian National Museum and Gardens in Dickson, Alberta. I confirmed the event schedule and off I went in my car with my GPS to guide me. Note: the GPS does not recognize the address. I ended up locating the cross section of Range Road 31 and Township Road 355.

At that intersection, you will arrive at a 4-way stop with the Dickson Store Museum on your left. When I inquired at the Dickson Store Museum, they told me to go straight towards the row of trees and that is where the Danish Canadian National Museum and Gardens is located. Yes, indeed it was there just a little further down the road on the right.

When you make a turn into the “forest”, someone will be there to collect an admission fee (cash only). That person will also direct you to the proper parking area.

Upon entering the museum outdoor area, I felt like I was transported back to Medieval Europe. I was impressed that in the little hamlet of Dickson, there was this beautiful site.

I parked in the back so when I entered, I was on the hill overlooking the site. The lake will be the first thing that you notice as it stood out shimmering in the sun.

Danish Canadian National Museum - Full View

In the center of the lake is a mermaid on a rock – a monument to Hans Christian Anderson’s story.

Danish Canadian National Museum - The Little Mermaid Statue

On top of the hill is a replica viking burial mark called a Stendysse.

Danish Canadian National Museum - Stendysse

The gap in the bottom is where the bones will be buried with dirt according to the plaque.

Danish Canadian National Museum - Stendysse Back View

There were live demonstrations of Viking attack techniques and way of life.

Danish Canadian National Museum - Demo 1

Danish Canadian National Museum - Demo 2

Danish Canadian National Museum - Demo 3

Danish Canadian National Museum - Demo 4

Danish Canadian National Museum - Demo 5

Danish Canadian National Museum - Demo 6

Danish Canadian National Museum - Demo 7

Danish Canadian National Museum - Demo 8

Danish Canadian National Museum - Demo 9

Danish Canadian National Museum - Demo 10

Danish Canadian National Museum - Demo 11

Danish Canadian National Museum - Demo 12

In between the acts, I walked around as volunteers offered info and tidbits about camp setup and daily life.

Danish Canadian National Museum - Camp life

Danish Canadian National Museum - Campfire

Danish Canadian National Museum - Shields

There were a few impressive outdoor artifacts. The Freydis Joanna Viking Ship stood out among them all.

Danish Canadian National Museum - Freydis Joanna Viking Ship

It was commissioned in Denmark and given to the Danish Canadian National Museum and Gardens.

Danish Canadian National Museum - Freydis Joanna Viking Ship 2

There was a bust of Hans Christian Anderson, no doubt one of the most famous and beloved children’s storytellers in the world.

Danish Canadian National Museum - Hans Christian Anderson Bust

I grew up reading his books and have always appreciated the wonderful stories he painted with his pen.

There was also a rock garden with a plaque dedicating the site as the Danish Canadian National Museum.

Danish Canadian National Museum - Rock Dedication

I stumbled into a food truck as I walked behind the main house and this being a food blog, I had to get something.

I went with a hot dog. Not just any hot dog, but a Danish Hot Dog.

Danish Canadian National Museum - Danish Hot Dog

So what’s on a danish hot dog? Well, the bun and wiener doesn’t seem different, but it’s the toppings that make it a danish hot dog. This dog had fresh cucumber slices and dried onion bits. The cucumbers really lighten up the hot dog and dare I say, make it taste fresh and light. Conversely, the onion bits gave the needed crunch. This was pleasant because when I get hot dogs, I always looked for bacon bits for the crunch factor. Here, the onion substituted well for the bacon bits texture that I loved.

On site, there were a number of historic buildings donated from original locations around Alberta. One was the Thomsen Pioneer Cabin which was furnished with artifacts from the past.

Danish Canadian National Museum - Thomsen Pioneer Cabin

Danish Canadian National Museum - Bed

Danish Canadian National Museum - Washer

Danish Canadian National Museum - Stove

Another fascinating building was the Dagmar Pioneer Church. It pales in comparison to the churches that I have visited in Quebec and Rome. However, it retained the old world charm and reminded me that life was simpler and populations were smaller back then. The elegance and grandiose was not necessary for these pioneers in the wild Canadian prairies.

Danish Canadian National Museum - Dagmar Pioneer Church

Danish Canadian National Museum - Dagmar Pioneer Church Front View

Danish Canadian National Museum - Dagmar Pioneer Church Interior 1

Danish Canadian National Museum - Dagmar Pioneer Church Interior 2

Danish Canadian National Museum - Dagmar Pioneer Church Interior 3

Danish Canadian National Museum - Dagmar Pioneer Church Interior 4

In the main house of the museum were rooms with more artifacts from early Danish-Canadian Pioneer life.

Danish Canadian National Museum - 1889 Bible

Danish Canadian National Museum - Instruments

Danish Canadian National Museum - Cross

Later, after more exciting warrior demonstrations, I was hungry again. So off to the Domitory Coffee House for a meal. Apparently, on Viking Day, the Domitory Coffee House required reservations and this trip being a spur-of-the-moment decision, I never made one. Luckily, because I arrived in the late afternoon when the lunch crowd was dispersing. I was given a table. If you plan to attend Viking Day, make sure you call a week in advance to make a reservation.

Now, I have to admit, I know little about danish food. Actually, now that I think about it, I don’t think I knew one danish person before moving to Red Deer.

So from the menu, I picked a Spegepølse (Danish Salami) Open-Faced Sandwich.

Danish Canadian National Museum - Dormitory Coffee House Spegepølse (Danish Salami) Open-Faced Sandwich

This was the first time I had rye bread. It was definitely denser than the regular white bread I get at the grocery store, but it’s packed in fibre!

The salami tasted like any regular fresh salami. The addition of dried onions with red onions and sliced cucumbers gave the sandwich a lot of crunchy texture. I loved the amount of veggies they added including the huge lettuce leaf. It made the sandwich less meat-heavy.

The jellied consomme was an interesting addition. It gave that added boost of sweetness to the otherwise salty salami. I must confess that I ate this sandwich with a knife and fork. Not sure if I can any other way. I enjoyed it and appreciated the light meal.

I also ordered the Lagkage so I had something else to try while there. I wished that I had the stomach for more dessert as they all sounded delicious. Considering the location, I knew that all the desserts would be good, homemade, wholesome desserts. Nothing can ever beat homemade fresh.

Danish Canadian National Museum - Dormitory Coffee House Lagkage

The lagkage is a layered cake with custard filling. It was very fluffy with a nice light sweetness. The raspberry compote was mildly tart which balanced the savoriness of cake. I had taken it to go, but ate it on the spot when I saw it.

It was a memorable day for me as I discovered a wonderful and delightful event outside the big cities. Moreover, I had some delectable meals and received a nice education in Danish-Canadian culture.

One last look of the day before I left!

Danish Canadian National Museum - Final Shot

 

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