.....From their homes in Iceland, via ferry to Scotland, then by way of steamer across the vast Pacific Ocean reaching the prairies by rail, such was the path taken by the Western Icelanders who established themselves in New Iceland along the shores of the great Manitoba lakes in 1875. Six years later, the settlement expanded into the North West Territories establishing Thingvalla and Logberg. This area expanded to the south, creating Vesturbyggd or or the "Western Settlement" also called the Concordia district (near Churchbridge). Around 1887, Vatnsdalur the "Water Valley" District around Vallar and Hólar (now known as Tantallon) received Icelandic migrants. Five years later Icelanders also made homes around the Quill Lakes, Fishing Lake and Foam Lake which became known as Vatnabyyður or Vatnabyggd "Lakes Settlement." During this early settlement era, these ethnic bloc settlements were part of the District of Assiniboia, North West Territories. It wasn't until 1905 that the province of Saskatchewan was incorporated in Canada.|
....."Rocked in their infant days to the tunes of the old sagas, Canada's Icelanders have provided names for commemoration in the sagas yet to be written in the persons of such historic figures as Vilhjalmur Stefansson, Minister of public works in the Norris Administration; Wilhelm Paulson, Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA); Bryan Bjarnason, MLA; Bill Sveinson, MLA; Raymond Thorsteinsson, geologist; Stephan G. Stephansson, poet; Rev. Jon Bjarnason, Founder of the Icelandic Lutheran Synod of North America and many famous office holders."1 such as Leo Kristjanson, Ph.D. president of the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) 1980-1989, Laurel Johannesson, artist; (Hans) Jakob Jónsson, Lutheran Minister, and Thorbergur Thorvaldson M.Sc., PhD. head of the U of S Department of Chemistry. "To maintain their common ideals an association was formed in 1919 known as the Icelandic National League of North America embracing both sides of the line on the same principals as the Sons of England and Caledonian Society."1
.....According to Joan Eyolfson Cadham, "the Icelandic Eddas, prose and poetry were preserved orally until they were written down during the 13th century.... Gudmundur Andri Thorsson, an Icelandic author columnist and editor, explained that, in Icelandic, 'the old meaning of the word edda is langamma - great grandmother ..somewhere deep inside we hear the voices of our great-grandmothers - our Eddas - who knew all the stories and sometimes drew us into the strange and beautiful world of storytelling.' "2 These tales tell of the "ancient Icelandic strength, courage and determination that defied everything, even the elements and death itself.6
.....Even before the homestead acts of United States (Homestead Act of 1862) and Canada (Dominion Land Act of 1872) Icelanders, influenced by the Mormon faith, left Iceland for Utah as early as 1855. It was partially due to the news of these early settlers in the new world, and the communications back to those at home which influenced the next major emigration from Iceland which occurred in 1875. This pull factor assisted these early immigrants in their decision to leave their homeland, coupled with the enticements offered by Canadian and American land agents. Sigryggur Jónasson, "Father of New Iceland" explored potential sites for an Icelandic colony in the west, and then returned to Iceland as a federal immigration agent.
.....The second "push migration factor" was put into motion following a volanic eruption. Mount Askja which had been smouldering with minor eruptions since January 3, 1875 On March 29, 1875 the volcano exploded; a major eruption. The devastation wrought was detrimental to the population of Iceland already under hardships. Farm labourers had little chance to own land. The land available was difficult to farm in Arctic conditions, and now the layer of black ash was the final straw. Animals had a hard time surviving with the toxic clouds, the dense layer of tephra covered the land, and people were starving. A large wave of emigration from Iceland to the shores of Lake Winnipeg took place in 1875, and another sizeable group joined them in 1876.
..... Iceland, itself, is located at the junction of the North Atlantic Ocean and the Arctic Oceans and is closer to the continental Europe than it is to the mainland of North America. The Icelandic immigrant would often be "ferried" to Scotland where they would then embark on the large transatlantic steamers. For instance TheShipsList reports that in 1887, there were nine ships carrying Icelandic travellers which arrived in Quebec. .....The settlement in the interlake region of Manitoba ran into hardships, the newly arrived settlers endured a particularly harsh winter in a few tents, 35 did not make it that first winter where the seasonal temperatures dropped below -40 C (-40 ° F). The early freeze up thwarted their fervent desire to fish for sustenance that winter. The fishing industry was on the decline, as the lakes had been overfished before the Icelanders had arrived. A huge smallpox epidemic swept through the early Icelandic colony ravaging the settlement and over 100 of the early Icelandic pioneers fell to this scourge of 1876-1877. The colony had to also endure and survive a huge flood in 1879.
Note on July 15, 1870, Rupert's Land and the North-Western Territory became the North-West Territories. During this same year, Manitoba became a province of Canada, albeit with different boundaries than present day Manitoba. The province of Saskatchewan was created September 1, 1905. In 1906, the hypen was removed, and the northern region became known as "The Northwest Territories" of Canada.
.....Mr. Sveinn Brynjólfsson, a translator, guide and land agent for the Dominion Line, travelled around the colonies in Canada to give the prospective emigrants reliable information regarding settlement.
.....The largest migration from Iceland to North America was experienced in the 1880s. Icelandic farmers could not utilize their lands during unseasonably long winters resulting in crop failures, the sheep contracted diseases and frost hampered hay growth for summer grazing. The population boom in Iceland did not make migration to the outlying villages in Iceland fruitful as the small villages which were based on a fishing economy could not sustain a rapid growth of population. "The total population of Iceland was just seventy thousand, but even this was too many people for the island to sustain" in 1870, according to Howard Palmer, "...between 1870 and 1914 approximately 15,000 to 20,000 Icelanders - roughly one quarter of Iceland's population came to North America.". The urban centers were deluged in Iceland, and many from Iceland left these overcrowded conditions to migrate to North America. Iceland "is half the physical size of Saskatchewan with two per cent arable land" Joan Eyolfson Cadham writes about Iceland having "a population one quarter the size of Sakatchewan." # .....Farmers out west saw a huge decline in the price of wheat in 1883. Prices of $1.33 per bushel could be had in eastern markets in 1881, however could only glean between $0.80 and $0.85 a bushel in 1883. The prices dropped again in 1884, when price offered for wheat in Winnipeg was only $0.72 a bushel. On top of this, the frost came early in the fall of 1883, and for those crops damaged by frost, farmers netted only $0.40 to $0.60 per bushel.
The Northwest Rebellion of 1885 created turbulence across the prairie provinces. "News of the rebellion in the early spring had placed the Northwest of the tongues of many people. Newspapers carried exaggerated reports of violence and danger; yet homesteaders continued to tricle into the West, though not in the nubmers hoped for by the Canadian Pacific, or the government.%
.....Over the winter months of 1886 to 1887 the Manitoba & North-Western Railway reached this far west and established the "Langenburg" station. This rail terminus gave rise to a community just to the east of Thingvalla. (Langenburg was 9.5 miles east of Churchbridge) The first shelters in Thingvalla were rough and crude. Logs were not plentiful in this aspen parkland region a part of the prairie ecozone. The prairie grasslands are interspersed with aspen groves with numerous undrained potholes and sloughs. Helgi Arnason recalled that logs were obtained from Manitoba about 46 miles (74 kilometers) away and then the logs were transported to a saw mill in Manitoba located enroute to Thingvalla to be hewn into lumber. With this labour over the winter months, twenty three families were established in permanent homes.
.....For these immigrants, the closest physicians were in Russel, Manitoba 25 miles to the east, and at York City, District of Assiniboia, NWT (the original York Farmers Colonization Co. settlement which later became Yorkton.) Oddny Magnúdóttir, her mother, her husband, Eiríkur Bjarnason and four children left for Canada in the fall of 1888. Oddny had graduated from the Copenhagen Royal Hospital with distinction, and served as district nurse and midwife before leaving Iceland. Oddny became a God send to these early settlers providing aid in the case of new infant arrivals and for medical emergencies.
.....Settlers in the North-West Territories would subsist off the land eating saskatoons, wild raspberries and wild strawberries. For their meat, prairie chickens, rabbits were in that era were plentiful year round, wild geese and ducks arrived in the spring. Homesteaders would tend their own vegetable gardens during the growing season, and keep pigs, cattle, chickens, domestic ducks and geese to supplement the diet with eggs, dairy and meat. For the staples of flour, sugar, salt or tea, they would need to travel to the nearest large centre for supplies of food.
.....Thingvalla School District 108 held their first school meeting in 1887, and by spring of the following year, the school house was constructed. Churchbridge was located five miles (8 kilomters) to the southwest. The first teacher was Miss Guöný Jónsdóttir for classes in the summer of 1888.
.....The few ministers available travelled far and wide offering their services where they were able. When the first minister, Rev. Jón Bjarnason held sermons, and perfomed services in the school house until the community hall was erected some three years later. Rev. Jon J. Clemens met with those settlers in the Thingvalla District holding services out of their community hall, however it was Rev. Hjortur Leo who was instrumental in erecting a new church close to this congregation, and the hall was sold in 1910.
.....In 1888, the Manitoba and North Western Railway (M&NW) extended west from Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, opening railway stations at Churchbridge, Saltcoats through the Icelandic settlement at Logberg / Thingvalla to the "Commercial Company" later a station named Bredenbury. By 1890, the M&NW reached Yorkton. The M&NW was first incorporated in 1883 after a name change from "Portage, Westbourne and North-Western Railway Company". The M&NW was later taken over by the CPR which leased the line on May 1, 1900.
.....A colonization company under the name, the North-West Loan Company, started off a group of Icelanders with funds for an ox and cart, and stock to an area near Stockholm, and this Icelandic community became known as Hólar, and the first pioneers were soon joined by other Icelandic immigrants. One of the first Icelandic schools in the North-West Territories was Holar school, and the community organised the school district and built their school house between 1892 to 1894. Joseph Lindall christened the community Holar. In the country of Iceland, Hólar is located in the Hjaltadalur valley of the Skagafjörður district, some 379 km (235.50 mi) from the national capital at Reykjavík.* The Foam Lake Composite School Students recounted that John Borgford, Arni Johnson, Alex Kristjanson were Icelandic immigrants arriving from North Dakota. Magnus J. Borgford and John Borgfordwere two other Icelandic homesteaders in the district who arrived from Winnipeg.
.....The community of Lögberg erected their schoolhouse in 1891 and opened in 1892 under Jon Lopston. Lögberg, NWT had erected their own cemetery and the church was raised over the years 1902 to 1904. Rev. John J. Clemens held inaugural services for this new congregation. The Lögberg was an Icelandic term for log: meaning "law" and berg: meaning "rock or stone" and was the gathering point for the Althing parliament in Þingvelir, Iceland. Þingvelir would bring people to this meeting place from across the land. Here they would sell their wares, exchange news, and search for employment opportunities. The last assembly was held in 1798 not to be held again until 1874 when once again independence began to bloom in Iceland.
.....At this time it is interesting to note that when the first Icelandic immigrants arrived in 1875 around Gimli, MB, that the Canadian Dominion Government, allowed New Iceland (Nýja Ísland) self government including their own laws and judicial system. This Icelandic system of self government continued until 1876, when the District of Keewatin was formed within the North West Territories, and New Iceland became a part of this newly formed District and its governance. They "came to this country as pioneer settlers from Iceland - the land of the Vikings ...a strong and sturdy race, who had an instinctive love of freedom and were the first to establish a representative parliament....freedom-loving pioneer[s], with a strong will to set out in search of a new and better world."*
..... On the 2nd of August, Deuce of August, "Islendingadagurinn" "The Day of the Icelanders" is an Icelandic celebration. Islendingadagurinn - the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba is having its 125th anniversary in 2014. Goodman also recounts that Icelandic day was also celebrated in Wynyard, Saskatchewan. A new constitution was given to the Danish parliament, August 2, 1874; a step towards Iceland officially becoming independent of Danish rule, June 17, 1944.
....."Thorrablot", another Icelandic holiday and feast day was held in Leslie every February. Those who belonged to the "Idunn" prepared for the "Thorrablot" The women would make traditional Icelandic dishes like hangikjot, laufabrand, and skyr for this mid-winter festival.
Concordia Church, Logberg Church and Thingvalla Icelandic Lutheran Church are churches in these two communities. The Concordia Hall erected by 1915 was host to a community celebration, an Icelandic celebration called Islendinga Dagurin on June 17, the Icelandic Indepence Day.
The Concordia congregation came together in 1901 with their own hall, church and cemetery. When this hall was built, the When the Thingvalla hall was abandoned, the settlers went to the Concordia hall erected near the more centralized location to the growing settlement, Churchbridge. Though the Thingvalla district had erected a church at their cemetery (around 1910), the two congregations were amalgamated, and the Concordia Church was relocated into the town of Churchbridge proper.
.....The Canadian Northern Railway (C.No.R.) and a C.P.R. line were built in south eastern Saskatchewan facilitating the population north of Tantallon in the Holar district. (It wasn't until 1918 that the C.No.R. was managed by the Canadian National Railway C.N.R.) The Grand Trunk Pacific rail was laid north of Tantallon. This G.T.P, line later became the C.N.R. main line.
.....Tantallon was situated on the C.P.R. section out of Brandon - Virden - which eventually reached Saskatoon. The old and new Holar School District 317 were situated north of these tracks. From east to west, Spy Hill, Gerald and Yarbo were on the Grand Trunk Pacific G.T.P. Main Line. By 1923, the G.T.P., joined the C.No.R. in a merger to form the C.N.R. As mentioned earlier, Langenburg, Churchbridge, Langestrew and Bredenbury were on the C.P.R. [formerly (M&NW)] railway section out of Minnedosa which was surveyed to reach Saskatoon and Edmonton. Thingvalla, Concordia, Pennock, Logberg and Rothbury were located north of this C.P.R. section line. Calder was on the line out of Neepawa and Rossburn, Manitoba connecting Calder to Wroxton and Yorkton. Calder was situated at the northern edge of the Thingvalla - Logberg settlement.
.....Vatnabyyður also known as Vatnabyggd "Lakes Settlement" was said to be the largest Icelandic settlement (over 1,600 Icelanders in the late 1800s) exclusive of Iceland itself. This Icelandic "ethnic bloc" settlement was situated in the North-West Territories around Fishing Lake, Foam Lake, and Kuroki. The Virtual Museum of Canada recounts that two ranchers left their original Icelandic settlement at Thingvalla near Churchbridge, and were attracted to the waters of Fishing Lake. Between 1892 and 1900, they were joined by Icelanders from across North America to the lands near Fishing Lake and the Quill Lakes.
.....Jonas Thor relates that a drought season made farming difficult around Churchbridge, and the settlers heard of lakes and hay fields in the north west. According to Lindal, Ingimundur Eiriksson (Ingi or Mr. Inge) and Kristján (Christian) J. Helgason explored the Fishing Lake region, and by 1892 shortly after their survey, they relocated their families to the area around Fishing Lake. Mrs. Ingimunder Eiriksson Sr. (Groa Inge) joined her son Inge with her daughters and their husbands, Valgerdur and Gisli Bildfell and Gudrun and Bjarni Jasonson In 1892, five families left the area around Thingvalla and took up land near Fishing Lake. Filing for a homestead, Inge's nother, Gróa Ásbjörnsdóttir, was the first Icelandic woman to do so.
.....A huge devastating prairie grass fire thought to be caused by lightning caused a slight shift in their settlement. The pioneers picked up their possessions and moved once again to a meadow of hay near Foam Lake which was untouched by the fire to once again build shelters, homes and stables. This meadow was actually "Foam Lake" which during this year was completely dry, leaving a lush field of hay. Though the original area at the south end of Fishing Lake was abandoned after the grass fire swept through, the region around the lake shore has been developed into a fishing resort village.
..... Other Icelandic families joined them from the areas of Thingvalla - Lögberg, Vesturbyggd the "Western Settlement" or the Concordia District, and Vatnsdalur "Water Valley" the District around Vallar - Hólar (now known as Tantallon) as there was a shortage of water for their stock. The distance from Tantallon north west to Foam Lake was about 130 miles (209 kilometres).
.....This area to the northwest where they had arrived had been named Foam Lake by the first homesteader in the area, Joshua Milligan. From the Touchwood and Little Touchwood Hills along Birch and Duckhunting creeks through to Big Quill Lake and Little Quill Lake, the Beaver and Becket creek drained into this area, creating a large slough in years of a high water table, and lush hay fields during droughty years. The slough, monikered "Foam Lake" reached a depth of one and a half meters in 1904.
.....From Foam Lake, the Vatnabyggd Lakes Settlement extended to Kandahar / Dafoe, and also north to Fishing Lake, Little Quill Lake and Big Quill Lake throughout the fertile Quill Lake Plain upland area. The book, What's In A Name? extends to us that the Icelandic colony sprang up in this area around 1890-1891 along the south shore of the lake. When the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) line between Tuffnell and Wadena came through, then the lake received the name, "Fishing Lake". Encompassing an area of 2,000 square kilometers, approximately 1,600 Icelanders applied for homesteads in the area. Elfros sprang up in the middle of the Icelandic settlement.
.....John Goodman wrote a chapter for They came from many lands and recalled the trip from Iceland aboard a ferry to Leith, Scotland, taking the rail to Glasgow, Scotland and from there boarding the Vesta passenger and freight steamer to Canada. After stopping for a years and learning some English in Winnipeg, the journey continued in 1904 to Assiniboia where his mother, Margret Gudmundsdottir, filed for her homestead.
.....During this era when the rail terminus was at Yorkton. Communication with family members in Iceland or to obtain supplies meant a trip from the Vatnabyggd settlement along the "Quill Lakes - Fishing Lake - Yorkton" trail to Yorkton the nearest large centre. This meant a one way trip of 57.55 miles (92.62 kilometres) along the "Red River Cart" trails. By 1891 Yorkton was the main distribution center, and mail was brought out once a week by stage coach to the sub post offices. Trips for shopping would be made about twice a year. In times of say a medical emergency the round trip in a hurried frenzy might be managed in twenty four hours. The trails in those days were packed dirt / prairie turf which would often be carved with six ruts. Though the ox and cart and horse and wagon would usually create a path of two ruts, the animals travelled better along the soft turf. Spring and summer rains and winter snow melt off would make small ponds of the original ruts, making it necessary to create a new pathway rather than get bogged down in the mud. One of the callings for the Local Improvement Districts was to create bridges, and corduroy rods over the shallower slough areas. The work crews were those settlers who provided labour in lieu of paying taxes. Wages for road work amounted to $1.50 per day per man and $3.00 per day for a man and team of horses. (Graded dirt roads first appeared in the early 1930s by use of a drag behind four horses).
....."The persuasive advertisements of free homesteads and abundant grazing lands in the Canadian West attracted the attention of many ranchers in northern United States. ...The trail they made to their destination became known as the Dakota trail."4 The Manitoba and Northwestern Railway Co. promised a rail line to the Dakota settlers surveying their rail line in 1893 and buying up the necessary land, however it was not until 1903 that the rail came past Theodore and Insinger to Sheho.
.....The rail forged on reaching Elfros the following year, 1908. In 1909 the rail connected Yorkton on the east of the settlement through to Wynyard on the west. In Wynyard, "the first settlers were Icelandic people and the first overseer was S.A. Sigfusson."6 The majority of settlers in Vatnabyggd, the "Lakes Settlement" region were from the area around Thingvalla.
.....In the early 1900s migrants were leaving North Dakota and Minnesota, where the colonies had become overpopulated, and they arrived in western Canada. In 1905 over 100 pioneers booked a special train to move away from North Dakota. The end of the line at that time was Wadena, which necessitated an overland journey of 35 miles (56 kilometers) to Sleipner, a new addition to the Lakes Settlement. A second large group migrated the following year. Similarly the Manitoba colonies began to see migrants heading westerly. The migration to south eastern Saskatchewan began with settlers from Iceland, however a group of Icelandic pioneers from Mountain, Red River Valley, and Gardar, North Dakota migrated to the area. The Lakes Settlement did not expand much further than Kandahar and Dafoe, the last area to be settled.
.........."866 homesteads and 334 additional farms in a 768 - square - kilometre settlement" produced the largest Icelandic rural farming community in area and population in North America according to Icelanders in North American: The First Settlers. .....Amongst these settlers, Gudbrandur Narfason, was elected as the Rural Municipality in 1912, his son Narfi became reeve between 1916 to 1917. Similarly Bjorn Nicholas (Barney) followed in his father's footsteps, (John S. Arnason). Both were involved in the community, John S. Arnason mastered English and all the Scandinavian languages was also a councillor with the RM of Foam Lake and a supporter of the co-operative movements such as the Saskatchewan Co-operative Elevator Company, the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool which started as the Saskatchewan Grain Growers Association. Barney attended the University of Saskatchewan becoming deputy minister of Cooperatives and as a member of the Royal Commission on Cooperatives he attended the International Labour Conference (ILO) Congress in Geneva in 1965. Barney received an honourary degree of Doctor of Laws, and even after his retirement travelled to Zambia as advisor on co-operatives and credit unions. John had many community minded children, another, Gudmunder Albert (Al) was designated honorary consul for Iceland in regards to his efforts to preserve Icelandic heritage and culture in Canada. A side note recalls that the rural area were looked after by Local Improvement District (L.I.D.) 16-H-2 (1904), L.I.D. 277, L.I.D. 275 and L.I.D. 306 (1910). The Local Improvement Districts gave way to Rural Municipalities such as the Rural Municipality of Foam Lake No. 306 and the R.M. of Elvros No. 307, when the boundaries were re-organised which resulted in smaller regions.
..... Christjan J. Helgason was a rancher whose cattle won many awards at agricultural fairs and exhibitions, locally, provincially, and nationally.Another Icelandic pioneer who figured prominently in the community was Joseph Henry Bjornson was "Pioneer of the Year" at Saskatchimo (The agricultural fair in Saskatoon). Amongst the many hats Bjornson wore besides homesteader and father were member of the cemetery committee and Saskatchewan Wheat Pool Committee, school board member, along with directory of the telphone company, municipal councillor. Bjornson was also active with the Cooperative Elevator Company, the Agricultural Society, and Livestock association. Jon S. Thorlacius and his wife were very involved with community organizations and church. Jon became Reeve of the Foam Lake R.M. and was a school board trustee. His son, Bjarni, also was similarly active in community committees. Oscar Asgeir Gislason arrived from Iceland to the shores of the lakeshores north of Winnipeg in 1881. Gislason foraged many lakes, rivers and rapids, and was foreman of the crew delivering the steamer from Lake Winnipeg up to Prince Albert. He fished in Manitoba most winters, breaking land on his homestead in the Foam Lake area over the summer. He assisted with the railway construction, and was active in all community affairs. Like many of their neighbours, Mathias and Muriel Gudmundson were active in their community leaving Iceland to Manitoba to try the fishing, they soon became active in the Foam Lake area organising the rural phone company, the first library, museum and the Air Cadets. Matt became involved as school trustee and on the church board, the Royal Canadian Legion, the Independent Order of Oddfellows Lodge Wheat Pool and Saskatchewan Farmer's Union. Muriel was alos involved in the community with the Foam Lake United Church Ladies Aid (the U.C.W.), the Nightingale Rebekah Lodge and the Legion Ladies Auxiliary. Helgi Johannes Helgason married to Helga Groa Narfason were both active, Helgi helped to organize the United Grain Growers and the Baby Beef Club as well as presiding as Reeve of the Foam Lake R.M. and president of the Agricultural Society. His wife was active in the Lutheran Church and the Icelandic Ladies Aid.
..... Narfi A. Narfason took over the family farm and invested in the hardware business in Foam Lake. He handled household and hardware supplies, caskets and funeral supplies, harnesses, washers, stoves, fridges and offered tinsmithing and plumbing as well.. He was a licensed embalmer, and undertaker as well as shopkeeper. These are just a very very few of the Icelandic pioneers who became involved with the community, please email or add a comment about other notable settlers to Assiniboia, North-West Territories. Apologies to anyone who has been overlooked.
.....True to Icelandic tradition, the þorrabloót, winter festival was inaugurated bringing Icelandic folk from across the province to Leslie for the festivities. In Wynyard, the Vatnabyggö Club Þorrablót festivities arose in 1981 and embraces multiculturalism in Canada. At the gathering, traditional Icelandic fare included rúllupylsa, lifrarpylsa, mysuostur, skyr, viarterta, accompanied with lashings of coffee.
.....Community halls sprang up, along with nine active congregations. Pastors who served in the area, included Rev. Jon Bjarnason, "Rev. Einar Vigfusson, Rev. Rognvaldur Pjeteurson, Rev. Runoffur Fjelsted, and Rev. Bjarni Thorarinson,"4 as well as "Reverend H.J. Leo, Rev. Pjetur Hjalmarsson, Rev. J.J. Clemens, Rev. Guttormur Guttormsson, Rev. Einar Vigfusson, and Rev. Runolfur Fjelsted."5 The Lutheran and Federated parishes came together in Wynyard, The Icelandic Lutheran Synod, Concordia Lutheran Congregation, and the Isafold congregation at Gerald to name a couple in the area.5 Before churches were erected, the pastors traveled into the community for church services and to perform duties such as christenings, marriages and to bless the grounds officially chosen for the cemeteries.
.....The first schoolhouse, Foam Lake School District 504, near the Foam Lake settlement was a log school building erected in 1899. Foam Lake SD 504, the first name of the rural school district was picked by C. J. Helgason in 1899 on the petition. The school was situated on the east shore of Foam Lake on the north east quarter of section 36 township 31 range 12 west of the second meridian. As the school operated during the summer months during years with a high water table when the depth of the lake reached five feet, students living on the western shore of the lake were taken to school by sail boat according to Lindal. Miss Catherine Donald was the first teacher to begin classes there. The second teacher was Bert Copeland (Coupland) In 1907, a new larger school house was needed, and with a change in boundaries, the new location was centrally located on the southwest corner of the southwest quarter of section 5, township 32 range 11 west of the second meridian.
.....The first trustees at Kristness SD 1267 were Th. Thorvoldson, Olaf Peterson, J. Thorlacius, H. Einerson, T. Jackson, and Lans Hougon. The "Akra" school house opened in 1905 under Miss Thorstena S. Jackson, followed by Arni Kristinson the following year. In 1907, Akra School received the new name of "Kristnes". By the time Kristnes school closed in 1959, a number of Icelandic students had filled the classes, and the Icelandic community was represented as trustees and teachers in the school.
.....The Icelandic school trustees proposed the name of Skalholt for the new school in 1908, however the Scottish vote for Kelvin Grove SD 2221 prevailed. This school closed in 1957, but not before receiving an excellent report from school inspector, B. Hjalmarson.
.....Foam Lake School District 1885 had quite a history, beginning as Adamson. Discarding the name of "Foam Lake South" the new school was assigned the name "Adamson" by the Department of Education as the name of Foam Lake was in use. In 1908 the school house was erected on the north west corner of the southwest section 32 township 30 range 11 west of the second meridian. Miss E. Salome Halldorson was the first teacher in the Foam Lake school. She was born and raised in Manitoba, attending Normal School and University of Manitoba winning scholarships and medals in German, Icelandic and modern language classes. She furthered her education in France. She became the first Icelandic woman to be member of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly campaigning in English, German, Icelandic and French during the 1936 election. In 1939 she received a medal from Buckingham Palace during the Royal Visit to Canada. The Foam Lake school district became the village school when the village of Foam Lake incorporated. It was in 1915, that the rural Foam Lake District 504 changed their name to Bertdale School District 504, and Adamson School District 1885 in the village became known as Foam lake School District 1885.
.....Opening in 1908 the Mount Hecla School District 1561 was named after a mountain in Iceland and the school served a community which was mainly Icelandic. The first schoolhouse was constructed of logs, which sufficed until 1921, when a new school went up offering classes until 1962.
The majority of students attending the first class at Walhalla School District 2062 were Icelandic. The school was erected about 1908 - 1909. With more settlers to the area, the school district boundaries were redrawn, and the school house was moved one and a half miles south. This school served the community until a modern school was erected just off of Highway 35 which was operational until 1936 when it was taken by fire.
.....Another school house with Icelandic roots was West Side SD 1244, which had as its trustees, P. Magnusson, Thomas Paulson, and S. Solvason. Elaine Virgin and Gil Shurgot recount that the Miss Thora Sigurdson opened classes at West Side, and the Icelandic author, Walter Lindel, also taught classes at West Side.
.....The initial meeting to form the Westside school District 1244 was held in the winter of 1905. The first teacher was Miss Thora Sigurdson, whose classes were filled with rural students as well as pupils from Leslie. The Westside school district had swelled in population, and by 1910 came together to propose the formation of a new school to divide the school district. Leslie School 445 was erected, opening in 1912, and expanding to a two room school in 1920.
Students attending Rose Vale School came from mixed ethnic backgrounds, with a number of these being of Icelandic ethnic origins. The classes started up in 1919 following a meeting held early in the same year. Mr. Helgi Eyolfson was the delegate chosen from the school board meeting to travel to Leslie regarding the formation of larger school units. Rose Vale one room school house district joined the Foam Lake School Unit in 1945, yet continued to operate as a rural school until 1954.
.....Osland School District 4394 came together later than the other one room schoolhouses of the area. In 1921 a new school house was opened as Osland under Clara Ingebjorg Thordarson relieving the class room loads on Kristness SD 1267, Fishing Lake 326 and Foam Lake 1885. The first teacher was MIss Clara Ingebjorg Thordarson, and the classes served the children of the Icelandic settlers in the area.
.....The Icelandic Lutheran Ladies Aid arose in 1918 sending care packages to those serving overseas in World War I and carrying on to provide assistance to those who were sick or in need. In 1923, the group changed it name to the Kristnes Ladies Aid, and in 1935, the meetings were conducted in English as opposed to Icelandic. In 1924, the Solskin Ladies Aid group came together. These Icelandic women met together to provide community service especially to the elderly Icelandic pioneers of the Foam Lake area. Similarly, in 1928, the Mt. Hecla - Ladstock Ladies Aid was an amalgamation of the Mount Hecla Ladies Guild and the Ladstock Ladies Aid.
.....The Icelanders came to Canada in family groups mainly organized by their own personal initiative following the advice of friends, relatives or immigration agents who had traveled to the new country before them. Truly, the ethnic network of Saskatchewan has been truly enriched by this infusion of Icelandic roots and culture.
.....In the Canadian Icelandic settlements, patronymics was generally abandoned, and the surname of the first ancestral immigrant established the family surname in the new land. Iceland attempted to use surnames as a family name (as undertaken in Europe and North America) between 1913 and 1925, however resorted back to the patronymic naming system.
For a source of information for tracing the family trees for genealogy purposes check these three local history / family biography books:
.....Generally in Iceland, if the father's name was Jón Arnar Einarsson, the son's name would be either Ólafur Jónsson or Ólafur Arnasson. The child's name could use the first or middle name of the parent in the patronymic. Similarly if Jón Arnar Einarsson had a daughter, her name would be Go;oeth;rún Jónsdóttir "daughter of Jón ". Sons and daughters may carry a matronymic name such as Ólafur Bryndísarson "son of Bryndis" or Guðrún Mínervudóttir "Minerva's daughter". The suffix -son refers to the son, and -dóttir refers to the daughter. The father Arnar could have a son with a patronymic name of Arnason, and a daughter Arnadóttir, a mother named Anna or Hanna, would have a son Önnuson and daughter Önnudóttir. For instance in the Foam Lake area Ofeigur Gudmundur Ketilson immigrated to Canada in 1891, he was the son of Ketill Thorsteinson and Lucia Ofeigsdottir. Ofeigur married Stefania Sigmundsdottir and as a widower remarried to Hildur Gudrun Bjarnsdottir, daughter of Bjarni Bjarnason and Sigridur Jonsdottir.
|South Eastern Saskatchewan|
Thingvalla - Lögberg (1886)
Vatnsdalur, Vesturbyggd "Western Settlement" or the Concordia District
"Water Valley" the District around Vallar - Hólar (now known as Tantallon) (1887)
|Placename *||Dates||Legal Land Location||Latitude - Longitude||Rail line||Highway|
|* Placename refers to a town, city, village or hamlet unless otherwise specified as lake, RM, cemetery or school district. Placename dates refer to establishment of the first post office. Highways and Rail lines are mentioned if the placename is so situated on or near the rail or highway. School districts and cemeteries are not generally situated with highways or rail lines running through them.|
|Bredenbury||1890-||Section 35- Township 22- Range 1-West of the 2nd Meridian||50° 56' 29'' N, 102° 2' 39'' W||CPR (Minnedosa - Saskatoon - Edmonton Section)||SK Hwy 16; Yellowhead Hwy.|
|Calder||1911-||Sections 15,16- Township 25- Range 31-West of the first or prime Meridian||51° 9' 27'' N, 101° 44' 58'' W||CNR (Neepawa - Rossburn - Wroxton - Yorkton Line)||North of SK Hwy 381 E and W of SK Hwy 8 S|
|Calder- Rural Municipality 241|
|Churchbridge||1889-||Section 17- Township 22- Range 32-West of the first or prime Meridian||50° 53' 41'' N, 101° 53' 36'' W||CPR (Minnedosa - Saskatoon - Edmonton Section)||Intersection of SK Hwy 16 and 80|
|Churchbridge - Thingvalla Cemetery||1887-||North East Section 22- Township 22- Range 32-West of the 1st or Prime Meridian|
|Churchbridge - Concordia Cemetery||1903-||North East Section 9- Township 23- Range 32-West of the 1st or Prime Meridian|
|Churchbridge- Rural Municipality 211|
|Gerald||1909||Section 25- Township 19- Range 32-West of the first Meridian||50° 39' 55'' N, 101° 47' 38'' W||CNR: Grand Trunk Pacific Main Line||North of SK Hwy 22 E and W of SK Hwy 8 S|
|Gerald - VALLAR Cemetery||1910||South West Section 28- Township 19-Range 32-West of the 1st Meridian|
|Holar Cemetery||1910-||SE Section 30 Township 30 Range 13 West of the 1 Meridian|
|HOLAR School District 317 (old and new)||1894-1918||east of Tantallon|
|Langenburg||1882-||Section 27- Township 21- Range 31-West of the first Meridian||50° 50' 39'' N, 101° 42' 4'' W||CPR CPR (Minnedosa - Saskatoon - Edmonton Section)||SK Hwy 16; Yellowhead Hwy|
|Langenburg- Rural Municipality 181|
Section 18, Township 24, Range 31, West of the Prime or First Meridian - 1892-08-01|
Section 32, Township 24, Range 31, West of the Prime or First Meridian
|Logberg Cemetery||1890-||SE quarter of section 24- township 24- range 32 West of the 1st meridian||51° 05' 09" N 101° 49' 15" W|
|LOGBERG School District # 206 location 1||1892-1908||NE Section 4 Township 23 Range 32 West of the 1 Meridian|
|LOGBERG School District # 206 location 2||1908-1960||SW Section 16 Township 22 Range 32 West of the 1 Meridian|
|MINERVA School District # 390||1895-1959||NW Section 21 Township 24 Range 31 West of the 1 Meridian|
|PENNOCK School District # 1437 location 1||1906-1908||SE NE Section 31 Township 23 Range 32 West of the 1 Meridian|
PENNOCK School District # 1437 location 2|
PENOCK other spellings
|1908-1960||W Section 32 Township 23 Range 32 West of the 3 1 Meridian|
|ROTHBURY School District # 204||1914-1965||NE Section 16 Township 24 Range 32 West of the Meridian|
|ROTHBURY School District # 204 location 1||1891-1914||SW SW Section 27 Township 24 Range 32 West of the Meridian|
|Spy Hill||1888-||Section 2- Township 19- Range 31-West of the first Meridian||50° 36' 12'' N, 101° 41' 10'' W||CNR: Grand Trunk Pacific Main Line||SK Hwy 8|
|Spy Hill- Rural Municipalityy 152|
|Tantallon||Section 16- Township 18- Range 32-West of the First or Prime Meridian||50° 32' 8'' N, 101° 50' 27'' W||CPR||SK Hwy 601 and Qu'Appelle River interSection|
|TANTALLON School District # 949||NW Section 16 Township 18 Range 32 West of the 1 Meridian|
|Tantallon - Holar Cemetery||1887-1914||South West Section 13 Township 18 Range 32 West of the First or Prime Meridian|
|Thingvalla Cemetery||1889-1912||NE Section 22 Township 22 Range 32 West of the 1 Meridian||50.915133°N 101.840717°W|
|THINGVALLA School District # 108 location 1||1889-1912||SW Section 24 Township 22 Range 32 West of the 1 Meridian|
|THINGVALLA School District # 108 location 2||1912-1947||NW Section 19 Township 22 Range 31 West of the 1 Meridian|
|THINGVALLA School District # 108 location 3||1947-1963||NE Section 24 Township Range West of the 1 Meridian|
|VALLAR School District # 1020||1904-||NW 21 Section Township 19 Range 32 West of the 1 Meridian|
|Yarbo||CNR: Grand Trunk Pacific Main Line|
|Please e-mail if you have further information regarding placename, rural municipality, cemetery, school district or other Saskatchewan placenames, date or locations with Icelandic roots. Thank you kindly.|
|East Central Saskatchewan
Vatnabyyður or Vatnabyggd "Lakes Settlement" (1891)
|Placename||Dates||Legal Land Location||Latitude - Longitude||Rail line||Highway|
|ADAMSON School District # 1885 |
later name FOAM LAKE
|1907-1915||north west corner of the southwest section 32 township 30 range 11 west of the second meridian.|
|Bankend - Holar Cemetery||1909-||South East Section 30- Township 30- Range 13-West of the 2nd Meridian||.|
|Beaver - Rural Municipality 276||1911-1953|
|BERTDALE School District # 504|| north east quarter of section 36 township 31 range 12 west of the second meridian|
later southwest corner of the southwest quarter of section 5, township 32 range 11 west of the second meridian
|Bertdale Icelandic Cemetery|
|Big Quill - Rural Municipality 308||1909|
|Big Quill Lake (Lake)||51° 55' N, 104° 22' W|
|Candahar||1910-1913||Section 21 Township 32 Range 17 West of the 2nd Meridian.||CPR|
|Dafoe||1911||South west Section 20 townsship 32 range 18 West of the 2nd Meridian.||CPR|
|Elfros||1909-||South west Section 13 township 32 range 14 West of the 2nd Meridian.||51° 44' 36'' N, 103° 51' 39'' W||CPR||Intersection of SK Hwy 16 and 35|
|Elfros - Rural Municipality 307||1909-|
|Emerald - Rural Municipality 277||1910-|
|Fairland||1906-1909||North west Section 18 township 31 range 12 West of the 2nd Meridian||.|
|Fishing Lake ( Lake )||Township 33- ranges 11,12-West of the 2nd Meridian||51° 50' N, 103° 32' W||CPR||SK Hwy 16; Yellowhead Hwy|
|Foam Lake||1900-||Section 28, Township 30, Range 11, West of the 2nd Meridian - 1900-10-01
SW Section 32, Township 30, Range 11, West of the 2nd Meridian
|51° 38' 28'' N, 103° 32' 22'' W||CPR||SK Hwy 16 and 310 interSection|
|FOAM LAKE SCHOOL HOUSE School District # 504 (1885) |
Later name BERTDALE
|South East Section 36 Township 31 Range 12 West of the 2 Meridian|
|FOAM LAKE School District # 504||South West Section 5 Township 32 Range 11 West of the 2 Meridian|
|Foam Lake - Bertdale Icelandic Cemetery||1876-||North west Section 19- Township 31- Range 11-West of the 2nd Meridian|
|Foam Lake - Rural Municipality 306||1910-1953|
|Foam Lake - Rural Municipality 276||1953-|
|GARDAR School District #1590||1906-1954||South east Section 4 Township 33 Range 14 West of the 2nd Meridian|
|GRANDY School District # 1540||1906-1963||north east Section 23 township 33 range 16 West of the 2nd Meridian|
|HARVARD School District # 2026||Section Township 32 Range 15 West of the 2 Meridian|
|Holar "Hills"||1907-1919|| North west Section 30 township 30 range 13 West of the 2nd Meridian||SK Hwy 35|
|Kandahar||1910-1979||South west Section 21 Township 32 Range 17 West of the 2nd Meridian.||51° 45' 29'' N, 104° 21' 43'' W||CPR|
|Kandahar - Icelandic Lutheran Cemetery||1911-||North west section 18- township 32- range 17-West of the 1st or prime meridian [sic]*|
|KELVIN GROVE School District 2221||1908-1957||North East of South East Section 21 Township 30 Range 12 West of the 2nd Meridian|
Section 16, Township 32, Range 12, West of the 2nd Meridian - 1905-03-01
Section 22, Township 32, Range 12, West of the 2nd Meridian
SW 1/4 Section 28, Township 32, Range 12, West of the 2nd Meridian
|51° 46' N, 103° 40' W|
|AKRA School District 1267|
KRISTNESS [also KRISTNES] SCHOOL DISTRICT 1267
|1894-1918||NW of NW section 21 Township 32 Range 12 west of the 2nd meridian;|
|Kuroki||1905-||Section 34- Township 33- Range 11-West of the 2nd Meridian||51° 52' 18'' N, 103° 29' 19'' W|
|Leslie||1962-||Section 36, Township 31, Range 13, West of the 2nd Meridian||CPR|
|LESLIE School District # 445||1912-1962||SE Section 36 Township 31 Range 13 West of the 2 Meridian|
|Leslie Station||1909-1962||Section 36, Township 31, Range 13, West of the 2nd Meridian||CPR|
|Leslie - GISLASON Private Cemetery||South East Section 24- Township 32- Range 13-West of the 2nd Meridian|
|LITTLE QUILL School District # 1797||Section Township 33 Range 15 West of the 2 Meridian|
|Little Quill Lake (Lake)||51° 55' N, 104° 5' W|
|Mimer||1907-1910||Section 14 township 32 range 18 West of the 2nd Meridian.||CPR|
|MOUNT HECLA School District # 1561||1906-1962||NE Section 23 Township 30 Range 13 West of the 2 Meridian|
Section 25, Township 32, Range 15, West of the 2nd Meridian|
Section 4, Township 33, Range 14, West of the 2nd Meridian - 1907-02-01
|51° 46' 33'' N, 103° 59' 39'' W||CPR||SK Hwy 16; Yellowhead Hwy|
|MOUNTAIN School District # 1548||1906-1951||Section 25 Township 32 Range 17 West of the 2 Meridian|
|NORDRA School District # 1947||1908-1962||South east Section 15 Township 32 Range 16 West of the 2nd Meridian|
|Norman Cemetery||NE section 18 township 31 range 11 W of the 2nd Meridian|
|OSLAND School District # 4394||1921-1957||NE of SE Section 22 Township 32, Range 12, West of the 2 Meridian|
|ROSE VALE School District # 4163||1919-1954||SE of SE Section 5 Township 32 Range 13 West of the 2 Meridian|
|Sleipner||1905-1908||North east Section 30 township 32 range 15 West of the 2nd Meridian|
|SLEIPNER School District # 2281||Section Township 33 Range 16 West of the 2 Meridian|
|Wishart||1884-||Section 30- Township 29- Range 14-West of the 2nd Meridian||51° 32' 50'' N, 103° 58' 39'' W||Intersection of SK Hwy 743 E and SK Hwy 639 S|
|WALHALLA (WALLHALLA) School District # 2062|| 1908/9 - |
Dates unknown for
|South west Section 21 Township [not given] Range 13 Range 3 West of the 2nd Meridian |
South west Section 18 Township 31 Range 13 West of the 2nd Meridian
Three schoolhouse locations
|WESTSIDE School District # 1244|| 1909-1911|
| SW of SW Section 29 township 31 range 12 west of the 2nd meridian |
SE of SE Section 29 Township 31 Range 12 West of the 2 Meridian
|Wynyard||1905-||Section 27, Township 32, Range 16, West of the 2nd Meridian - 1912-12-14 |
Section 30, Township 32, Range 15, West of the 2nd Meridian - 1905-08-01
|51° 46' 8'' N, 104° 10' 46'' W||CPR||SK Hwy 16; Yellowhead Hwy|
|Wynyard - Vatnasofnudar Icelandic Community Cemetery||South West Section 4- Township 33- Range 16-West of the 2nd Meridian|
Answering Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):