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   Newspaper Article Links:

  Ľ A real-life Iceland saga that did not end well (Herald News)

  Ľ Icelandic roots strong in Markland (The Weekly Press)

 

 


Iceland Air Returns - May 2007

On May 17, 2007 Icelandair began its service to Halifax, NS. Flight # 606 landed at 8:15 pm. The airport authority had two fire trucks on hand to spray the plane with water (not champagne) to celebrate this event. A reception was held at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport. Eleanor Humphries, CEO of the Halifax Airport, welcomed Icelandair back to Halifax. Jon Karl Olafsson, CEO of Icelandair, stated how pleased the airline was to return and looked forward to future opportunities in Canada with its new Blue Sky Policy. Many members of the Icelandic and Scandinavian Societies attended the event. Scandinavian foods (oysters, herring, gravalax, etc.) were served.

Dolly Belmore, in her Icelandic costume, stole the show. She was introduced to all of the dignitaries present, including the Mayor of Reykjavik, Vilhjalmur Vilhjalmsson, Iceland's Ambassador Marcus Antonsson and his wife Steinnun Armannsdottir and Hans Indridasson and his wife Erla Einarsdottir. Hans managed Icelandair's office in Halifax when the airline first came here.

The airline flies out of Halifax on Monday, Thursday and Saturday nights.

Book on line: Icelandair or call 877-435-7940.

The Society wishes the Company success in this new venture.

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Markland Fall Harvest Picnic - Sept. 16, 2006

Each September Beverly and Harley Redden host a fall pot luck at their camp which is located on Lot 23 (18-1875) 100 acres of land settled by the pioneer settler, Olafur Thorsteinsson, the blacksmith.

This year as special guests, we had the descendants of BjarnÝ Solvason and Kristen "Christina" Johannsdottir, the pioneers who were granted Lot 9 [13-1875 - Crown Grant 13569 - 96 acres; and 17-1875 - Crown Grant 14126 - 100 acres] which they named Vatnahlið (Lakeside).
June MacNab, her daughter Mary MacNab, her granddaughter Molly Fraser and her grandson Duncan Moffat live on Vancouver Island and planned a special trip to Markland in September 2006.

Here is a brief sketch of the family provided by June MacNab.

In 1874 BjarnÝ and Kristin left the farm Mikligarður, Seylu Township, Skagafjarðarsýsla region, Iceland, on the S. S. Patrick bound for Canada. They went to Kinmount first and in 1875 they arrived in Markland.

    A son, Solvi, died of measles while staying at Iceland House. Daughters Maria "Mary" (age 13), Gudrun "Gertrude" (age 9) and Ingibjorg Margret "Margaret Solvason Turner" (age 1) are listed in Jon Rognvaldsson's survey of Markland (February 1878). A daughter Emily "Emma" Margaret appears to have been born on January 14, 1879. This family was one of the last to leave Markland in 1882 for Emerson, Manitoba.

    June MacNab's grandmother was Ingiborg Margaret (Mrs. David Turner). They had 8 children. Only 2 of Margaret's children had families. June's mother was Mary "Molly" and her sister, Florence "Floss". Tuberculosis appears to have ravaged this family.

September 16, 2006, was a beautiful fall day in Nova Scotia. The MacNab family first visited the site of Iceland House and then the memorial cairn. Don Redden, Wayne Scott, Marshall Burgess and Glenda Burrows then took them to Lot 2 (Lot 35-1875, Grænvatn) where Gudbrandur Erlendsson lived. He wrote the book in 1916 about his life in Markland (1875-1881).
Lunch was served by the Reddens at their camp. Then a group of people headed out to visit the two Solvason lots. The group saw segments of the "Iceland Road" leading to Mooseland which was built by the pioneer settlers.

First the family arrived at Lot 13-1875 where the family homestead (Vatnahlið) was located. The hole in the ground which was the root cellar of the old house is all that remains. The well is located nearby. The view to Copes Lake has all but disappeared. The group then visited the second lot and saw the foundation/well located there.

A pot luck supper was served at the Redden camp. Banjos and guitars were played. The sun set and we left to return to our homes.

Without doubt from 1875-1882 the Icelanders visited each other in Markland and shared whatever they had with each other. Music and singing are noted in Erlendsson's book.

The Society hopes that other descendants will be found, they will come to visit Markland, they will meet the members of the Icelandic Memorial Society of Nova Scotia, and their stories and ours will be exchanged. This way the Icelandic Society will continue to grow and this saga unfold.

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Stephansson House Historic Site - June 2005

On June 18, 2005, I attended an Icelandic Picnic (Islendingamót) hosted by the Stephan G. Stephansson Icelandic Society at Markerville, Alberta. Markerville is near Red Deer and was founded in 1888.

First, I visited the Stephansson House Historic Site. Stephan Gudmundsson (1853-1927) and his wife Helga Jonsdottir, moved to America in 1873 (Shawano County, Wisconsin; North Dakota and finally Alberta in 1889).

A farmer by trade, Stephan G. was also a prolific writer. In 1908, the first three volumes of Andvökur (Wakeful Nights) were published. Six volumes in total were published in Icelandic in 1923, 1924 and 1938. The "Poet of the Rocky Mountains" became widely recognized as the "greatest Icelandic poet since the 13th century".

Second, I visited the historice Markerville Creamery built in 1902. Dr. C. P. Marker, a Dane, was hired by the government to open creameries in Alberta and he helped to establish the creamery in this community. In 1903, the community was named Markerville in his honour.

Finally I attended the Icelandic Picnic. Icelanders first arrived in this area on June 27, 1888.
A special dedication was made to the "Women of Aspenland". A story board on the live of Stephan G's wife, Helga, was unveiled. Representatives from the Leif Eriksson Icelandic Canadian Club in Calgary (Dr. Ron Goodman, President) and Nordurljos Icelandic Club (Del Sveinson, President) were present. I met Shirley Dye, President of the Stephan G. Stephansson Icelandic Society and her sister Bernice Anderson.

I picked up a copy of selected translations from Andvökur first published in 1987. The book presents a wonderful selection of the topics covered by this writer.

Icelandic Poetry (1912)
In Iceland it's no happenstance
Whatever life's afforded
All their thoughts and circumstance
They've in verse recorded
If you listen and you're told
Their rhymed repertory literature
To your mind will then unfold
Culture, land and history.

(Translated by Sigurdur Wopnford)

 J. Marshall Burgess, Q.C.

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Millennium Dedication August 2000

As a millennium project, the Society erected a memorial cairn in each of the settlements. Dedication ceremonies were held at the cairn sites August 26, 2000 at Markland and August 27, 2000 in Lockeport. The Viking ship Islendingur arrived in Lockeport on August 27 to join in the celebrations.
 

The Honourable Rodney MacDonald, Minister of Tourism for Nova Scotia proclaims the old settlement to be officially known as Markland.

 

 

Mrs. Eleanor Belmore, The Honourable Sturla B÷­varsson Minister of Transportation, Communication and Tourism, Republic of Iceland and The Honourable Rodney MacDonald unveiling the cairn.

Minister B÷­varsson, Mrs Belmore and Minister MacDonald

Work continues to locate old homesteads in the Markland Settlement, and a future project is to build a replica of one or more of the old homes. With the consent of the present day landowners, the Society has established a network of trails throughout the old settlement. When you visit, please remember that this is an isolated area and private property. Dress for hiking and please respect both the landowners and nature.

To provide further information on these settlements, Society members are conducting research in Iceland, at the Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management, Public Archives of Nova Scotia site and in the local areas to gather more details about the Markland and Lockeport settlements. If you would like more information or have any information to share, please contact the Society Executive.

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updated April-23-14

 

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