Hometown Histories – Henningsvær, Lofoten Islands, Norway – Bjarne and Henrik Bergithon Bordewick

My great grandfather Bjarne Bordewick, was born in Henningsvær in 1888. His father, Henrik Bergithon was there born in 1862.

Henningsvær is a small fishing village off the coast of Norway in the municipality of Vågen. It is part of the Lofoten Islands, an archipelago of small islands located between the 68th and 69th parallels north of the Arctic Circle. It is located primarily on the islands of Himøya and Hellandsøya. It is 74 acres (just over a tenth of a mile) large, and in 2013, had a population of 444 people.

It is a popular tourist destination as a fishing spot, and also offers climbing and diving for other tourist activities. Most stay in cabins called Rorbu. They small houses built for fishermen. They are built on land, but overhang the water, using posts to keep them up over the tides. This allowed access to the fishermen's boats when the cabins were in use. Cabins of this sort have been numerous in the area since as far back as 1100. Now they are used largely to house the tourists who come to the area, as most fishermen live on their boats when fishing in the area.

Henningsvær is the most famous fishing village in Lofoten. In 1842 (twenty years before Henrik was born), the village was bought by squire Henrik Dreyer. At the time, the town was less than 100 homes, including almost 80 fishermen's cabins. He quickly developed the village into a center of trade and fishing. He also established an infirmary with a resident doctor, as well as a chapel and a lighthouse. He also had a great deal to do with the first telegraph line being established in the Lofoten Islands. He passed away in 1882, and an English man attempted to buy the village. The public fought the purchase, leading to a political movement which led to the Nordland County Council taking control of the village by the middle of the next year. Unfortunately, soon after, fishing began to decline in the area, and the cod run seemed to dry up, not returning until 1920. It was this change that led to my family's departure from the town, leading to a long journey that would lead them halfway around the world.

The town is referred to as the "Venice of the North." Its major industry, aside from tourism, is cod. It is the center of the world's greatest cod fishery. During the winter, the harbor is filled with fishermen and transports to take the cod to their destination. The area has been considered one of the best fishing areas for centuries. North Atlantic cod congregate nearby to spawn, which draws anglers from all over the world.

one of the Henningsvær bridges
It is connected to the rest of the islands via the Henningsvær bridges. The two bridges are called Engøysundet Bridge and Henningsvær Bridge. Engøysundet Bridge is to the north. It is 636 feet long. Henningsvær Bridge is to the south. It is 843 feet long. They were opened to traffic in 1983. They are part of a chain of bridges which connect the Lofoten Islands together. They are box girder cantilever bridges made of prestressed concrete.

Henningsvær church is located on the island of Himøya. A church was first built there in 1852, just ten years before my great-great grandfather was born. Likely the family attended services there for much of Henrik's life, at least until he and his wife moved away.

The Bordewick clan's history in the Lofoten Islands begins with Henrik Bergithon's grandfather, Johan Petter Bordewick. He lost his father in a shipwreck when he was only three, and he began doing clerical work for a man who ran a trading post in the islands when he was old enough to make his own way. He eventually became the owner of the business. He was already married with two young children at the time, but the family grew quite quickly after that.

In 1846, Johan's wife, Leonharde Linkhausen, died in childbirth complications with their eleventh child. The eldest children took over care of their siblings, but eventually their father began to look for a new wife. First his eldest son, and then his second son, my great-great-great grandfather, Hans Henrik, left his household, despite promises that they would take over the business when time came for Johan to retire. When Johan finally remarried in 1860, Hans took his family and left the town to find his own way. So it was that he and his wife Kaja (born Karen Angell) moved to Henningsvær, where all their children were born.
Henrick Bergithon, aka Henry
My great-great grandfather, Henrik Bergithon, was raised away from his grandfather's household. I do not know if they had much contact with them during his childhood, but it is obvious to me that they had at least some contact. His father's third-half-sister, Leonhard Marine was only a year older than Hans, and at some point after Johan's death, the two fell in love and married. They, too, settled in Henningsvær, where they had three sons.

Leonharde, aka Harde
However, soon after their youngest son was born, Henrik and his brother Eivind made plans to make more money in a poor fishing economy at the time. They decided to try to set up a direct-route fish-selling venture. Eivind would stay in Henningsvær and fish, then send the goods to Henrik in Belgium where he would sell them to the locals. So Henrik and Leonharde moved their sons away from the islands. It was the beginning of a long journey for the family.

The Bordewick boys and a cousin who traveled with the family all the way to Vancouver
They moved to Belgium, but were quickly reviled by the Belgians, though the family story as to why is a bit garbled. Either they seemed to German or too English. Either way, the plans fell through, and the family moved again. This time, they settled to live near Leonharde's younger brother, who had established himself in Hull, England. They lived across the bay from him in Grimsby for several years as the boys grew up. My great-grandfather, Bjarne, was just taking his tests to enter Cambridge when the family moved again. One of her sisters had settled in Vancouver, and so the family settled there as well. It was there they finally settled for good. Two of their three boys married there, though my great-grandfather was the only one to have children.

Bordewich family history by Pat Bordewich
Bordewick Family tree


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About this blog

This blog is maintained by two sisters who have had a life long interest in geneology.
Mika writes here mostly about our family (Hansen, Hillinger, Bordewick, Park, etc), and her search for more information.
Shannon mostly uses this space as a place to make the many stories written about and by her husband's family (Holly, Walker, Walpole, etc) available to the rest of the family, present and future.

Our blog is named Oh Spusch! mostly because Shannon is bad at naming things. The first post I put up includes a story about the time Walker's great grandfather took his whole family out to see a play and the littlest kept saying "Oh! Spusch!" No one ever figured out what she meant by that.