The Markland Ceremony
In 1998 Mrs. Eleanor ("Dolly") Belmore, a retired teacher from Caribou Gold Mines, had a dream. She dreamed that in the millennium there would be some special public recognition of the Icelandic Settlement named
"Markland" which existed from 1875 to 1882 on 3,000 acres of land lying between her home village, Caribou Gold Mines, and the village of
Mooseland, Halifax Regional Municipality.
That dream came true on August 26, 2000. Over 250 people attended a memorial cairn dedication hosted by the Icelandic Memorial Society of Nova Scotia.
The Society was incorporated in 1998 to educate the public about Nova Scotia's Icelandic past. Mrs. Belmore is the Chair. Her daughter, Glenda Burrows, is the Vice-Chair. Beverly Redden is the Treasurer. I am the Secretary. There are 65 members in the Society.
Attending the ceremony were representatives from the Republic of Iceland. The Honourable Sturla
Boðvarsson, Minister of Transportation, Communications and Tourism, was the special guest of honour. He was accompanied by Jakob Falur Garðarsson (Special Assistant to the Minister); Helga Haraldsdóttir (Tourism Counselor); Ragnhildur Hjaltadóttir (Department Manager, Transportation) and Magnus Oddsson (Director of Tourism); Svavar Gestsson (Consul General of Iceland in Canada); and his wife, Guðrún
Ágústsdóttir. Hans Indridason and his wife, Erla, from Icelandair, were present.
A delegation from Gimli, Manitoba, led by Mayor William Barlow, joined in the ceremonies. Accompanying him from Gimli were Rick Lair, Darcy
Bedard, Kristine Sigurdson, Peter Bjornson, and D. Joe Sigmundson. Dilla Narfason and her 3 sisters, Alda
MacKenzie, Emma Wilkinson and Gerdur Harris, were also in attendance.
The Icelandic National Anthem was sung by Mrs. Peter (Margaret) Holmes. The Canadian National Anthem was sung by Betty
From the municipal level of government, speeches were given by Jack Keith, Chair, Halifax Regional Municipality Millennium 2000 Committee and Steve Streatch, Halifax Regional Municipality Councilor for the Musquodoboit area.
The Province was represented by the Honourable Rodney MacDonald, Minister of Tourism and Culture and Brooke Taylor, MLA for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley-Eastern Shore.
A very special announcement was read by Minister Rodney MacDonald. He announced that the Governor in Council, by Order in Council 2000-424 dated August 24, 2000, officially ordered that the former site of the first Icelandic Settlement in Nova Scotia, situated in rural eastern Halifax County, be officially named
"Markland". The pioneer settlers called their community by this name. Henceforth provincial maps of Nova Scotia will now bear this name.
The Government of Canada was represented by Peter Stoffer, MP for Sackville-Musquodoboit Valley-Eastern Shore. A message from the Honourable Herb Gray, Minister Responsible for the Millennium Bureau of Canada, was read to the audience.
The memorial cairn was unveiled and blessed by Reverend Douglas Moore, Zion Lutheran Church, Lunenburg County. In the1870's, two Lutheran ministers, Reverend Charles Cossman and Reverend D. Luther Roth, traveled 200 miles each year from Lunenburg to Markland to administer to the spiritual needs of the pioneer settlers (35 families, 200 souls).
The base of the cairn was designed and built by Harley and Don Redden, Ken Almay, Keith Elwood and many other Society members. The capstone came from Iceland. The verse on the cairn reads "Care should be taken in the presence of a soul". The cairn is located on lands owned by Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, Inc. This company did extensive work to fix up the roads leading to the memorial cairn and the pioneer sites.
A historical sign outlining the location of the old homesteads was also unveiled. Tours of some of the abandoned farms were arranged. Special tour maps were prepared by Larry and Ruby
Many descendants of the pioneer settlers were present. This included the Peter Hillman Family (Dr. Lyle and Dianne Hillman, Dr. John and Sherry
Einarsson). Bruce Fulton from Middle Musquodoboit and his relatives, whose Icelandic amma
(Sigriður Thorsteinsson) married Porter Taylor and lived in the Musquodoboit Valley, represented the Ólafur Thorsteinsson Family.
Bjarni H. Ragnarasson, age 16, was a special guest from
Hofsos, Iceland, where the Icelandic Emigration Centre is located.
A dinner was held at the Bicentennial Theatre in Middle Musquodoboit. A summer special of hodge podge and blueberry pie was served. The play, Saga of
Guðriður, followed at the theatre. Mr. Svavar Gestsson introduced Brynja
Benediksdóttir, the writer, and Tristan Gribbin, the actress.
A documentary of the Markland Icelanders has been finalized by Rex Tasker and Dave Dwyer.
To the many sponsors of this event, including the Halifax Regional Municipality Millennium 2000 Committee, the Millennium Bureau of Canada, the Republic of Iceland, Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, Inc., Eimskip Canada Inc.,
Icelandair, Musquodoboit Valley Tourism and Conform Limited, the Society says thank you.
Mrs. Belmore's dream to recognize the Icelanders who came to Markland provided the seed for this millennium project. On August 26, 2000, the sounds of Icelandic voices again echoed in this very special place. To Mrs.
Belmore, the descendants of the Icelandic pioneer settlers and many other people, extend their warmest and deepest expressions of gratitude. Bless.
J. Marshall Burgess, Q.C.
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