Trails Day Hike and Book Launch at Markland
Saturday, June 5th, the Icelandic Memorial Society of Nova Scotia
celebrated the 8th International Trails Day with an annual walk into
Markland, the 19th century Icelandic settlement, near Caribou Gold
Mines. The annual walk celebrates and commemorates the hardy
Icelandic people who called Markland their home from 1875 to 1882.
Forty people met at the memorial cairn at the entrance to the
settlement before beginning the 8 km hike.
In the spring sunshine, the hikers made their way over the
old Icelandic road to one of the original homesteads where a picnic,
music and camp fire were waiting.
the route, hikers enjoyed the fresh green of the hardwood
trees with a carpet of ferns beneath, interspersed with lady
slippers and star flowers.
to visit some of the homesteads, individuals took a moment
of pause to just imagine the hardships yet happiness that
the families of this community shared.
the former Robb’s store, a table spread with goodies and
cold drinks was awaiting the hikers.
the hike and picnic, the group moved on to lot 7 in the
Mooseland area, where Johann Magnus Bjarnason author of
Young Icelander, lived as a young boy. The Society
was honoured to welcome Manitoba author Borga Jakobson of
Winnipeg and her twin granddaughters to this historic
celebration. Borga translated this latest book and
Boy in the Mooseland Hills, which was published in
a petite and strong Icelandic woman of 82, walked in the
softly falling rain, up the mossy path to the homestead site
of this renowned author. She spoke of the many hours she
spent reading about life in Markland and the stories her
father, who was a student of Bjarnason had told her when she
was younger. She had envisioned Markland as she wrote about
it and imagined the tall birch trees by the home they had
named “White Birch Cottage”.
on her first visit, Borga unveiled a memorial plaque to
Johann Magnus Bjarnason on the very site of his Markland
home, reading both in English and Icelandic.
She then read a passage from “The Young
this passage Magnus, as he was known to family and friends,
returns to his homesite in the Markland village before
leaving for good and going west. All of the families have
left and the houses are empty, except for one.
Magnus walks from cabin to cabin before making his
way up the path to the tall white birch tree which towered
above his family’s cabin.
cabin is empty, the windows and doors have been
boarded up and weeds have taken over the pathway and
the garden. Magnus sits down under the tall birch
tree and thinks about days gone by.
There are only memories left behind and a
squirrel skittering about. This was Magnus’s last
time in Markland.
the reading, Marshall Burgess, chairperson for the
Icelandic society served cake and champagne in
celebration of this wonderful day in Markland.
Icelandic Society of Nova Scotia is very thankful to Borga Jakobson
for the excellent translations which have brought life to these
stories. Members of the society and guests who attended were moved
by her deep understanding and compassion for these Icelandic people
and the memories they have left behind.