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Kindall Saga



This is the story of my paternal grandmother’s (Bea Holm) maternal grandparents and their family, as pieced together and written down by my Grandma in 1984.


July, 1984

Dear Ginny:

Clint and I have always felt that the story of some events in the lives of our grandparents should somehow be recorded. This is the result of our efforts to learn as much as possible at this late date. If we had only done this years ago, I’m sure our mother, Anna, as the oldest child of Christine and Andrew, could have given even more details, especially about their early years at the turn of the century.

This is written in a very simplistic style, but I hope you will enjoy it. I wish I could have developed the family tree further, but guess I’ll have to leave that to one of my children or grandchildren.



(Beatrice Holm)


Christine Elizabeth was born to Johan and Annie Frisk on February 16, 1864 in Småland, Sweden.

Johan Frisk, a tall man of over 6′, was a sailor, but he was also a captain in the army and trained soldiers under Sweden’s compulsory military service law. Pictures remembered by his grandchildren showed him in a full dress military uniform – a handsome man! His home was situated on a couple of acres of land which had been given to him by the government and was known as “Captain’s Acres.” Because of Johan’s position with the government, his family was considered a “high Swedish family” at that time.

Johan was a man of many talents – a sailor, an army captain and a lay preacher in the church. He was very well versed in the Bible and insisted that his well disciplined family (several sons and three daughters) study the Scriptures regularly. As a result of that early training, Christine knew the Bible intimately and could tell the location of most any quotation from it.

We don’t know much about Annie, Christine’s mother, except that she was a little woman.

When Christine was just a very little girl her oldest brother embarked for America. His journey started by crossing the lake near their home and then boarding a train which would take him to the seaport. Christine watched her father, Johan, and her big brother put his trunk in the boat and push off from the shore. There was a huge rock jutting out in the water not far from the shore and somehow, in her little girl’s mind, she thought that her brother had lost his trunk and that was what she saw out in the water. The family heard from that brother off and on for a few years, but then the correspondence stopped and Christine never did know anything more about her oldest brother. An older sister also went to America and settled in Altoona, Illinois, but the third sister stayed in Sweden.

When Christine was in her teens she fell in love with a man named John and they wanted to be married. He was from a family that was not considered equal to hers – probably mainly because John’s father worked in a brewery. There was dissension between the two families and enough unhappiness to cause Christine, a very determined person, to make a big decision. She would go to America and earn money so that she could return to Sweden with a dowry and she and John could be married even though their parents did not approve.

Perhaps her long range plan was not completely understood by her father, Johan, because he lovingly and skillfully made her a trunk for her trip. He put a very large brass lock on it which opened with a huge key, and he also lined it with colorful wallpaper. In those days in Sweden all their clothes were made from materials woven at home – linen, cotton and wool, but when Christine was ready to leave, her father bought her a silk scarf for her head. So, in 1883 at age 19, she proudly left her home for America with her trunk and her new silk scarf. She never saw her parents again.

Christine traveled steerage on the ship. Steerage is an area of the ship near the rudder which is reserved for passengers paying the lowest fares, and these accommodations were very inferior. The trip took three long weeks. Upon landing she went through Ellis Island and then found her way, all alone, to her sister’s home on a farm near Altoona, Illinois.

This sister tried to play cupid and get Christine interested in a man she knew so that she would forget about John back in Sweden. It didn’t work. Christine would have no part of it and continually reiterated that she was going back to John. Finally, using someone else who had just come over from Sweden as the supposed source, her sister trumped up a story and told Christine that John had married. This sister also saw to it that John, over in Sweden, was told that Christine had married. After some time of great heartache had elapsed, Christine found out that her sister had fraudulently concocted these stories. She immediately moved out of her sister’s home and made her way to St. Paul and she never had any contact with that sister again.

When Christine arrived in St. Paul, she secured a position as a maid in the home of a judge named Dr. Wilkins and she worked for him for several years.


Andrew was born to Mr. and Mrs. Johan Anderson in Värmeland, Sweden on April 18, 1857. In Sweden his name was Andrew Johanson (son of Johan). He also had an army name, as was the custom, which was Kindall. Both Andrew and his brother, Charlie, took the name Kindall when they arrived in St. Paul because of the enormous number of Johnsons (or Johanson) already there. He found work on the railroad and traveled quite a bit. Nothing is known of his family in Sweden or even his age when he arrived in America.


In the 1890’s there were many Scandinavian immigrants in Minnesota. They gathered together socially and also established churches. It was at a social get-together of Swedish immigrants that Andrew and Christine met. They were married at the home of Andrew’s. brother, Charlie, and his wife, Annie, at 107 W. Lawson St. in St. Paul on May 2, 1893. Andrew was 36 years old and Christine was 29. (Charlie’s real name was Carl. He was 7 years older than Andrew.)

They established their first home in Minneapolis and on April 12, 1894 a little daughter, Anna Elizabeth, was born. Shortly after her birth they moved to Elroy, Wisconsin, which was a more central location for Andrew’s work on the railroad. Florence was born while they lived there – April 20, 1896. This was during President Cleveland’s administration at the time of the “Great Depression” with much unemployment everywhere, and Andrew, too, lost his job. So, thinking there would be more employment opportunities in St. Paul, they moved back there. Ruth was born there on July 14, 1898.

But there was no work to be found in the Twin Cities either. Andrew had always dreamed of owning property and he heard about some land on which to homestead up north near Sturgeon Lake. When he checked into it, he learned the free land had all been taken, but in the same general area there was land available for purchase at $10 an acre, He purchased 80 acres, sight unseen.

So, in 1898 Andrew moved his wife and three little girls, ages 4, 2 and less than a year, via railroad to the northland. We can only guess, but he must have hired someone with a wagon to transport them from the depot out to the land.

No doubt their first sight of that land gave them real disappointment because it was very rocky and, although there was quite a lot of good forest, at least 20 acres were useless swampland and part of it was a small lake of which he owned 3/4 of the shoreline. The other 1/4 of the shoreline was owned by a family named Carlson. And then, of course, there were no roads so he had to chip nicks in the trees to find the way in and out of the property. But the Johansons, the only neighbors around at that time, were helpful and came over to assist Andrew build a cabin. It is not known where or how they lived while the cabin was being built, but with three little girls, one less than a year old, it must have been an extremely difficult time!

The cabin that Andrew built with the help of his neighbor was a real LOG cabin built with logs he himself hewed. Just the hewing of these logs was a tedious task because they cracked easily so it had to be done very carefully. Of course, he had no cement to fill in the openings and cracks, so they used moss which they gathered from under the fir trees and down around the tamaracks. When completed, the cabin had only one room, but it had a floor and a cookstove on one end and a heater stove on the other. And, of course, they burned wood which was plentiful and was to be had just for the chopping.

They had no money, so when the cabin was completed, Andrew left Christine alone with the little girls and he went further north to work for wages in the woods as a logger. He did this for at least two winters, coming back in the springtime to work at clearing his land.

While he was gone in the wintertime, Christine experienced many, many difficulties. She told about the wolves who were so thick around the cabin that they would come right up to the windows and even throw themselves against the door trying to get in. Think how frightening this must have been for Christine, and the little girls must have felt real terror!

That first long winter they didn’t even have a cow and Christine knew the importance of her three little girls having milk. She couldn’t leave them alone, so she would load them all onto a sled and go on a path through the woods to a neighbor’s home to get milk. After that first hard winter she said, “This will never do!” She had to walk quite a distance to the mail route, but the mail carrier had money and could cash money orders. When Andrew sent her a money order from his wages up north as a logger, she cashed it and used the money to buy a cow from a neighbor. One wonders where she kept the cow initially, but shortly after Andrew returned home for the spring and summer months he built a lean-to or shed for the cow.

Most of Andrew’s time the first two or three springs and summers were spent clearing the land. In spite of all the hardships, Christine was happy thinking her family was complete and settled. The little girls always remember those days when they made their own fun – sometimes making wreaths from the moss they gathered around the tamaracks.

In about 1902 Andrew built a barn and a house – in that order. The house had a living room and a kitchen on the main floor and one bedroom upstairs. Both Blanche and Freda were born in that house; Blanche, January 12, 1903 and Freda, May 2, 1905. Between 1898 and 1905 many other settlers moved in on the small farms around the Kindalls. Andrew and his neighbors cleared a road through that area from the main road. This new little road went past the Beckstroms and on up past the schoolhouse to a small church. The neighbors along this road were quite close to each other because their farms were small. A family named Sams moved in and, for some reason, the Sams and the Kindalls were not compatible. Gradually everything seemed to become intolerable for Christine and Andrew, so in the spring of 1906 they closed the door of their home and moved back to St. Paul. Andrew found employment laying tracks for the streetcar company and also working for the sewer system.

Although Andrew was employed, the pay was minimal, so Christine took a job as a laundress and twelve year old Anna, who had just completed fourth grade, had to forget school and stay home to care for three year old Blanche and one year old Freda. Florence and Ruth did go to school while they were in St. Paul. Christine worked until just before Harold was born in St. Paul on August 7, 1908. But these were extremely hard times so when Harold was just eight weeks old, Andrew and Christine decided to move back to the farm in Sturgeon Lake where they at least had a home of their own.

So – they were on the move again. They packed up everything they owned and boarded the train. This family of eight, Mama (Christine), Papa (Andrew), and their six children, ranging in age at that time from 14 years to 8 weeks, got off the train at the Moose Lake depot. Even though it was only early fall, it was snowing there. A neighbor named Swanson met them with a team of horses and a sleigh and drove them out into the country to their home. At least this time there was a house to go to, but even so, the girls remember walking into that cold, empty and dreary house that day. No one had lived there in the two and a half years they were in St. Paul, and all that was in it was a cupboard and a stove. Papa went out immediately to chop wood and built a fire. Their furniture didn’t come for quite a while so all of everyday life – cooking and sleeping – must have been nothing but hardships; but somehow they managed.

The children started school again in the one room country schoolhouse, with the exception of Anna, who was called Betsy – short for Elizabeth, her middle name. She had missed 2½ years of school while caring for the little ones in St. Paul, so it would have been hard to go back when she was so much older than the others in her grade. So her formal education ended in the fourth grade, but even so, Anna had excellent command of the English language. In her early years Swedish was spoken in her immigrant home, but in her later years Anna could write and speak beautifully in English, as, of course, could all the younger members of the family.

Anna helped Mama and Papa for a while on their return to the farm and then was offered a job as a maid in the hone of Seymor Swanson who owned Swanson’s General Merchandise store in Moose Lake. Not very often, but once in a while in later years, Anna would tell some things about that job – how she would have to get up at 4:30 in the morning to pump the water, get the stove going to boil the water, and then do huge washings, all by hand. When the washing was done and the clothes dried on the outside lines both in winter and summer, then there was endless ironing – plus all the cleaning and the cooking. All this began at age 14 for Betsy, but her thoughtful caring for others was evident even then because with her first pay check she bought a cow so her younger sisters and brother could have milk. That cow was the beginning of a small herd which Andrew eventually had on his land.

And so it was in 1908 when Papa returned to the farm that he began again the hard and tedious task of clearing the land. It took him a total of 18 years to clear approximately 30 acres to use for planting. Toward the end of those years as the children were growing up, it seemed that Andrew and Christine were getting along a little better financially – at least we know they were able to buy a rug for the floor in the main room of their home.

One little story that Florence and Ruth tell is about a cousin named Alma, daughter of Christine’s sister in Sweden, who came to visit them. They felt this cousin of theirs was a very foxy and spiteful person. It was always their little task to call Papa for dinner. When it was time, Alma delighted in running across the field and getting him before they, as little girls, could reach him. And Alma would complain loudly in Swedish to Mama about Betsy getting dust on her skirt when she swept the rug with the broom. Ruth can still remember the disagreeable tone of her voice. But Alma finally moved on to the West Coast, and the last any of the Kindalls knew about her was that she had married a man named Gold and was living in the state of Washington.

Christine corresponded with her parents in Sweden and so she knew when, in about 1910, her father, Johan, caught a terrible cold while ice fishing. The illness turned into pneumonia and he did not recover.

The younger girls in the family remember well when, in about 1912, a letter edged in black arrived from Sweden for Mama. It told of her mother’s death, and though she hadn’t seen her mother since 1883, about 29 years earlier, she must have loved her dearly and missed her immensely through those years, because she was grief stricken and cried for several days.

In 1910, when Florence was 14, she left the farm. Upon her arrival in St. Paul she found employment as a nursemaid for the four children of Dr. Dennis. It was a lovely home on Linwood Place and Florence, for the first time, had her own bedroom. A couple of years later Ruth, too, left the farm. She went first to Duluth and remembers that Anna, who was still working in Moose Lake, bought her a new coat and other clothes so that she would leave home well outfitted. But Ruth was very lonely and homesick in Duluth, and in just a few weeks she was home again on the farm. Shortly after that, though, she joined Florence in St. Paul and she, too, found work in a home. And then, in about 1915, Anna left Moose Lake and took a job as a maid in Minneapolis in the home of Dr. Clellan Card, a dentist. Later she worked as a maid in the home of Professor Blegen, a teacher at the University. On October 20, 1917, Anna was married to George Hedsten in Minneapolis.

And so it was that the three older daughters in Christine and Andrew’s family were all settled in the Twin Cities and the rest of the family resided on the farm near Sturgeon Lake. The summer of 1918 had been very hot and dry. Although it rained on July 4, there had been no moisture since and the children, Freda, Blanche and Harold, remember standing outside and searching the sky for any sign of clouds that might lead to rain. It didn’t come.

On Saturday, October 12, 1918, Blanche (age 15) and Freda (age 13) had been delegated to dust the pews and sweep the floors to make the church presentable to receive a new minister the next day. Mama took the horse and buggy and went to Ladies Aid that afternoon. Charlie Johnson, their neighbor, had passed away not long before so Papa walked over to his farm to help the widow Johnson pick potatoes.

While the girls were working at the church, it became very smoky and dark outside and they ran home in fright. Mama came home shortly after. When Papa arrived he said, “There’s a fire in Sturgeon Lake and there are a lot of woods burning there.” But Sturgeon lake was 7 miles from their house so they didn’t get too worried about it.

There was a strong wind blowing and it became darker and darker. When it was time to go to bed, the girls and Harold, then age 10, had “spooky” and frightened feelings, so Mama went upstairs and brought their blankets down. As they were settling down to sleep on the floor of the main room,

Mama went to the kitchen to get a drink of water. She looked out the window toward the West and, in terror, called to Papa and told him in Swedish that their own woods were on fire. Everyone ran out of the house and in no time the fire was flying toward them in the strong winds. (They learned later that the wind velocity was at least 60 miles an hour.)

Still not quite realizing how extremely serious the situation was, they all went to the well to get water in as many containers as possible. But seeing how fast the fire was approaching, Mama and Papa told the three children to take the lantern and run to the neighbors, Albin Andersons, which was about a block away across the road and through the woods. They apparently felt the Anderson farm was beyond the path of the fire which, by now, was simply whipping along. The children ran and on the way Harold remembered his pet kitty, but the girls kept him from going back for it. When the children reached the neighbors, they looked back and saw their home all ablaze. One can only try to imagine their terror, but the Andersons must have been very reassuring in convincing the children that their parents were safe.

Again, we can only imagine the shouted conversation between Papa and Mama as the wind and fire roared toward them. Hearts pounding in extreme fright, they ran around trying to save a few of their belongings and some of the livestock. Andrew opened the barn door, untied the cattle and led them out. He had a hard time pulling the horse out because horses don’t want to leave their stalls when they sense danger. The calves had been taken to town and sold shortly before, with the exception of one little calf which Mama planned to raise as their milk cow. That little calf was burned up because the fire traveled so fast that Papa could not get to the pen to save her. Nobody ever knew how, but somehow all the other cattle managed to save themselves. The pig house burned down, but those pigs, too, had saved themselves and were there in the rubble the next morning. And, to Papa and Mama’s amazement, even a few chickens were walking around in the ashes that next day.

Papa and Mama carried a sack of flour, a couple of chairs and the old clock out of the house. Papa wanted to dash back in to get his pocketbook, some war savings stamps and some war bonds, but the house was already burning and Mama wisely restrained him from going.

The children spent the night in the neighbor’s plowed field. Papa and Mama also went out to their newly plowed field and covered themselves, the flour, the chairs and the clock with some blankets they had soaked in the well. They lay there and watched the fire pass right over them.

During the night the wind shifted direction. It had been coming from the West, but when it shifted to the South the neighbor’s house was spared as well as one building on the Kindall farm, the granary. The next morning, as soon as dawn broke, Papa made his way through the smoking ashes to find the children. They were all safe and unharmed!

What a morning that must have been! There had to have been great despair over the loss of their home and the possessions for which they had labored so hard for so many long years. But we know they thanked their God for His protection and care for each member of the family during that horrible night.

That morning they all gathered at the Alfred Swanson home to assess the situation.

What did Papa and Mama have left? The granary! There had been 20 bundles of shingles and a wood post piled a couple of inches from the outside wall of the granary and they were burned to ashes – but the granary stood! Papa pointed out this phenomenon to Harold and voiced his thankfulness to God that He had spared this one building for their shelter. The family stayed at the Swanson’s one or two nights and then moved to the granary.

There was a root cellar under the granary in which carrots and potatoes had already been stored for the winter. The threshed grain had been hoisted to the second floor, and there were also some old beds up there which the children sometimes slept in during the summer months. The first floor was used for storage of miscellaneous items, including an old table and Mama’s very precious spinning wheel.

Very soon after the fire when all the family was reunited, it began to rain and turned cold. While Mama and the children huddled in what had become a very precious granary, Papa walked in the rain through the smoldering debris five miles to Moose Lake. There he found complete destruction and havoc everywhere. That town, Cloquet, and many other small villages had been completely destroyed and hundreds of lives had been lost. The Red Cross had come into the area and was the main source of help to all of the homeless and destitute survivors. As soon as Papa reached town, he was conscripted to assist in digging a long ditch – long enough for the burial of 100 bodies in a common grave. And so it was very late that night when he finally arrive at the granary with blankets and a sack of groceries given to him by the Red Cross.

In the days that followed Papa took rocks from the foundation of the house and built a primitive kind of fireplace. Among other things in the Red Cross bag of groceries were cans of soup, coffee, etc. He had a difficult time getting the cans open, but he finally managed with an old knife found in the ruins. They all ate Campbell’s soup for the first time and, of course, it tasted great!

Papa killed the chickens that had survived the fire; Mama plucked them and prepared them on the improvised fireplace. A neighbor brought them a coffee pot. So for a couple of weeks the nourishment of the Kindall family was soup and coffee from the Red Cross, chickens who had managed to live through the catastrophe, and vegetables from the root cellar. They slept on the old beds with straw ticks and kept warm with the Red Cross blankets in the granary. Not luxury, but they managed and were thankful! And today that granary is still standing on the old farm which is currently owned by Archie Johnson. i

Andrew and Christine could not know immediately following the fire, but they later learned that the fire which destroyed their home was the worst destruction in the history of Minnesota. About 1,500 square miles in several counties were burned over and 453 persons, not including the unknown dead, lost their lives. Property loss was estimated at about $30,000,000. At the next session of the legislature, $1,800,000 was allocated for the benefit of the fire victims, but considering the total losses, this was a mere pittance. Most survivors of the fire were destitute.

The Kindall family could not live indefinitely in the granary. Their farm was reduced to mere rubble, and the thought of attempting to clean up the shambles and start from scratch again was beyond their conception at that point. What should they do? Where should they go?

At that time Anna, Florence, and Ruth were all in the Twin Cities. Anna had married George Christian Hedsten on October 20, 1917, and they lived with their baby daughter, Beatrice (born 9/19/18), in south Minneapolis at 4936 Nokomis Avenue. Florence and Ruth were both living and working in St. Paul and each Sunday the two of them met and went together to worship at First Methodist Church on Hamline Avenue.

On Sunday, October 13, 1918, they met as usual, but before reaching the church they heard newsboys shouting, “Extra, Extra, All about the Moose Lake fire.” Alarmed, they quickly changed their plans and, instead of going to church, they went to the home of Mabel Loveness, a friend who was also from Moose Lake. There they found several other friends had gathered who were concerned about relatives living in the area of the fire.

Because telephone lines were down in both Moose Lake and Sturgeon Lake, it was decided that one of the young men would take the train as far as possible and try to find out all he could about survivors. He left. Florence and Ruth stayed at Mabel’s over night so they could get whatever news he could learn as soon as possible. The young man got to Pine City by train, then biked to Moose Lake, and finally was able to get a phone call through to the Loveness home. The Kindalls, as well as the others for whom that group of friends was concerned, were all O.K. Florence and Ruth then relayed that good news to Anna. They were, indeed, a thankful trio of sisters.

During the next three weeks, Papa made arrangements with neighbors, Esther and Adolph Jacobson, for the sale of his farm to them for $2,500. As soon as the deal was completed, Papa, Mama, Blanche, Freda, and Harold boarded the train for the Twin Cities. When Ruth met them at the depot, Freda and Harold were out in front of the building excitedly waiting and watching for her. Ruth took them all to Anna and George’s home -via the streetcar. Their’s was a small house with only one bedroom, but there was an attic and they managed to arrange sleeping space for everyone. The Kindall family stayed with Anna and George until they located and purchased another home at 945 Burr Street in St. Paul.

Papa Andrew, although 61 years old at the time, was able to get work washing railroad cars for the Northern Pacific Railway and he continued working several more years. Mama Christine took care of the large two-story house, but as the years rolled on life became difficult for her because of diminishing eyesight. She always seemed to know whenever any kind of disaster was coming. Her explanation of this was that her first boy friend in Sweden, John, would visit her and warn her (presumably in a dream) of what lay ahead. She said she knew about the fire before it actually happened.

In 1928 Mama suffered a gall bladder attack and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. Freda rode with her and was trying to reassure her that everything would be all right and she would soon be home again. But Mama told Freda, “No. I had a visit from John last night and I know I will not be going home from the hospital. And she didnt. She had an operation removing the gall bladder and pneumonia set in following the surgery. The doctor made the comment that Mama wasn’t trying to live, and perhaps that was true. Mama was almost totally blind and had told Freda that she had been praying for a couple of years that she would not live until her sight was completely gone. She passed away in the hospital on November 1, 1928.

Papa Andrew lived on in his home on Burr Street. When Freda was married to Herbert Carlson in fall of 1928, they moved in with him and took care of him and the home. In about 1932 the home was sold and he went to live with his daughter Anna, and her husband, George, at 2532 Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis.

On April 18, 1941, Anna and George had a party to celebrate his 84th birthday. All his family was there with the exception of Harold who was unable to attend. During the evening he went into the bedroom and picked up his month-old, sleeping, great granddaughter, Bettyann Holm, and tucked a $5 bill into her sleeper. He said to everyone present that he was so happy to have a great granddaughter and that he loved her so much. When leaving the party, Ruth said to him, “Well, next year, Grandpa, we’ll make it even a better party than we had tonight.” He responded, “No, Ruth, I think next year you can go to the cemetery.”

After the party, Papa went upstairs to bed. In the morning he admitted he had not felt well during the night but didnt want to disturb anyone. An ambulance was called and he was taken to the Northern Pacific Hospital where he passed away about noon that day (April 19, 1941) of a heart attack.

And so ends “THE SAGA OF CHRISTINE AND ANDREW KINDALL. However hard as their life together was, they maintained faith in their great God and saw to it that their children knew Him and His Son, the Savior.


NOTE: Most of the facts incorporated into this saga were taken from a recording made by Clinton Hedsten of the table conversation at a dinner in the home of Ward and Beatrice Holm on May 3, 1979. It was a celebration honoring Freda’s 74th and Clinton’s 54th birthdays and the following were present: Ruth and her husband, John; Florence; Freda; Clinton and his wife, Doris, and his daughter, Janel; Ward and Beatrice. Additional information came later from Harold, Ruth, Freda, and Florence. The saga was completed in 1984 by Beatrice Holm.

i Directions to the old farm and the granary, which is still standing, per Freda. The farm is now owned by Archie Johnson.

“Sturgeon Lake (Pine County) was 7 miles from our farm and Moose Lake (Pine County) was only 5 miles, so that’s why Papa traded in Moose Lake. However, we lived in Pine County, so our mail came through Sturgeon Lake. If you take 35W, you come to Sturgeon Lake first, and it is easiest to find the farm if you go off the freeway there. From Sturgeon Lake you would turn East and then you would go to the County Road that goes by Overlands, and then you turn North and go straight North to our old farm – now the Archie Johnson farm.

“If you try to find it by going out of Moose Lake, take the main County road going South and then turn East: You have to go around past the Swanson’s, the Hammerquist’s, and the Johnny Johnson’s, and down that other road – we used to call it ‘Sleshing.’

“You go Northeast from Sturgeon Lake and Southeast from Moose Lake.

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