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Plans finalized for log kiosk at Markland

 

My first chore at Greenwater was to winterize the house provided by the government. The builder had done an excellent job. It was built of straight fir logs notched to fit, with a floor of unplaned and unmatched boards. It was 7 feet to the crossbeams with a window on each side and one on the south side below the beams. The roof was shingled and in places one could look out but it did not leak. At times during a snowstorm, snow did come in. I filled the spaces between the logs with moss and later, when I had made myself a plane, built a room under the eaves with smooth boards.”  

- Gudbrandur Erlendsson, Markland: Remembrance of the Years 1875-1881
 

In the fall of 1875, Gudbrandur Erlendsson and the first group of Icelandic families to settle in Markland were preparing for their first winter in Nova Scotia. Their most important job would be to finish and winterize the log cabins built for them by the Nova Scotia Government. We can only imagine the overwhelming task of facing the challenges of a Canadian winter with no experience in these dense, tall forests and with only the very basic of tools for cutting firewood and logs.

Now, one hundred and thirty six years later the Icelandic Society of Nova Scotia is ready to take on the building of a log kiosk. Unlike the Icelandic settlers of 1875, this undertaking is not a ‘chore’ for the Society, but instead a project that has been more than three years in the planning and one that we are eagerly anticipating. It will be built to honour and commemorate those Icelandic families who made Markland their home for seven years. The log kiosk will be dedicated to Eleanor Belmore, co-founder and past chair of the Icelandic Memorial Society of Nova Scotia. Eleanor’s relentless determination to seek out the history and stories of these pioneers and her long- time vision and dream of a cabin built on one of the original sites was the driving force behind this project.

The planning stages for the log kiosk are complete and our goal is to begin the construction of the kiosk in the summer of 2011. In 2009 our society was the recipient of a community history grant from Halifax Regional Municipality. This grant enabled us to complete the crown survey and pay for site preparation. The 2.47-acre parcel is now in the Society’s name. This hectare of land is on Lot 3, originally Lot 33, the home of Sigurdur Jonsson and Sigridur Dyrleif Brynjolfsdottir. They called their 100-acre lot Stadartunga (Homestead Point). Two sons were born to Sigurdur and his wife while living in Markland, in 1875 and 1878. Brynjólfur Sigurðsson, born in September 1875, shortly after the family’s arrival was the first Icelandic child to be born in Nova Scotia. 

The Society has obtained a permit for building the kiosk and has been assigned a civic address. We have made application for tax exemption for the property but it has not been granted this year. The application will automatically go forward for consideration for the next tax year.

Irving Pulp and Paper are making a donation of logs for the building of the kiosk. The logs will be freshly cut and delivered as soon as the roads open for transport. Several members of our society are skilled woodsmen and have first hand experience with log peeling and the building of log structures. The project has generated a lot interest with our members and they have volunteered to help with every aspect of the construction.

Bonnie Price, artist and the society’s treasurer and membership chairperson has sketched several impressions of how the cabin will look and how it might be situated on the lot. Bonnie’s drawings are based on research from our historical records and the kiosk will be built as closely as possible to these descriptions. While the final drawing is not finalized, we do know that the kiosk will be about 200 sq. ft in size and will be situated approximately 10 metres from the old foundation. The interior will be rustic and will not have any services such as electric and plumbing. In keeping with the original dwellings, the only access to the kiosk will be by footpath from the road. The cabin will serve as an interpretive site, where visitors, accompanied by members of the Society will be able to visualize more clearly life in these humble log cabins for the newly arrived Icelandic families in 1875.

Our Society gratefully accepts donations toward the construction of the kiosk and is very appreciative of the many generous donations received to date. We are now looking forward to the actual construction, which will be followed by a celebration and commemoration when the kiosk is finished.

Glenda Burrows

 

 

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updated June-05-12

 

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