The history of the Big Canoe Lutheran Church dates back to 1851 when the first non-Indians began settlement in the Decorah area. The land was almost entirely forest. The first Norwegian settlers were from Voss, Hallingdal and Numedal, in west central Norway. At one time, Highland Township, just north of the Big Canoe Church was 100 percent Norwegian. One reason for that was the fact that the Norwegian settlers had been farmers in Norway that there was land available for farming in Iowa. In 1850, Halsten Stoen and his sons homesteaded 640 acres in Winneshiek County, Iowa and were willing to provide work and board for many who came from Norway.