Are You Dutch? The most common question about my name

November 3, 2014

One more huge highlight of my weekend at the Ottawa Art Expo was meeting an elderly Norwegian woman who came up to me because of my last name. Usually, people ask, "Are you Dutch?" because of the double A in Kaardal.

 

My paternal grandparents were both Norwegian but born in Canada. I think their parents were born in Norway. My family history is a little muddy since we've been in North America so long, but we've always been proud of our Norwegian name.

 

She spoke with a strong Norwegian accent and certainly looked Norwegian to me, so I asked her what the proper pronounciation of my last name is. She confirmed that it is "Core-doll", and it sounded so rich and lovely with her accent. Almost everyone says "Car-dell" which I don't mind, but it was nice to have confirmation from a wise old Norse lady that I've been saying it right.

 

She went on to tell me that Norwegian names are often made from the place the family came from. I knew this, and a little about where my name came from but she had a different insight to it because of her knowledge of the language.

 

She said "dal" comes from "dalen", which means valley. Then she said "Kaar" is a term for the place the parents move to when they pass the farm on to the next generation. At least that is how I understood her. I remember being told that Kaardal is a relatively new surname and that it was possibly made up when the family left Norway, or at least the homestead. I think she said  that "Kaar" was an odd word to use in a name. Sounds like it was for a reason though!

 

I can't get over how neat it was to speak with her. I can't remember her names, as they sounded VERY Norwegian, but her first name is an old Norse name that means "Goddess with a sword". She used to teach Norwegian to Canadian soldiers before they went abroad and she said they always got a kick out of that.

 

I'm glad to have met you, Goddess With a Sword!

 

The 3rd child from the left is my grandmother. Everyone says I look like her but I've never seen it until I saw this photo. When I was this age, I looked remarkably similar to her. 

Here, she is with her siblings and parents, probably in Saskatchewan (they later moved to B.C.).

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