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