The Icelandic Connection

The arrival

The Icelandic connection. It’s the name  of a magazine but it is also a description of a reality for many of us.

At the moment, Pam Furesteneau is in Iceland, traveling about the country giving presentations about the connection of the North American Icelandic communities to Iceland. Two nights ago, Almar Grimsson, creator of the Snorri program and proponent of all things Icelandic, brought about forty Icelanders to Victoria as one stop on a tour of places on the West Coast where Icelandic settlements formed in the 1800s. Shortly, Viður Hreinsson, writer, translator, academic, will tour Canada to promote his book, Wakeful Nights, on Stephan G. Stephansson, the Icelandic poet of the Rocky Mountains.

A light snack is always appreciated.

The reception at Norway House that was put on by The Icelanders of Victoria club was fun. We, the Canadians, that is, told the Icelanders about our ancestors who came to Canada in the great migration. They introduced themselves and gave the name of the area in Iceland where they live. As usual, there was a language barrier with more Icelanders speaking English that Canadians speaking Icelandic. However, we managed conversations.

This Oddfellows group has been to Canada before. I met them in Toronto last summer and traveled with them to Kinmount and Hekla. Next year they are, apparently, planning a trip to Brazil because Icelanders did emigrate to Brazil and, even though the planned emigration of larger numbers did not occur, there are descendents of Icelanders living in Brazil.

The club’s display of photographs of the early Icelandic settlers in and around Victoria.

I was promoting my latest book, What The Bear Said, on the Toronto trip and many people bought copies after I gave a reading of the title story.  At the reception in Victoria, I met a man who told me  he had translated the title story into Icelandic and read it to a group in Iceland.

Almar thanking Tom, the club’s president, for the reception. Earlier, Tom had explained to the assembled multitude how it is that the president of the Icelanders of Victoria is led by someone with the name of Benjamin who has an English accent.

Introducing ourselves.

Fred Bjarnason, our famous  chef, genealogist, historian,guided the tour through the local sites. He obviously had a good time and his showing people about was obviously appreciated.

I lurked about taking pictures and as I lurked, watching events from the sidelines, I wondered what those early Icelandic settlers in Victoria, the Johnsons, Myrdals, Thorsteinsons, Brandsons, Seivertzs, would  have thought if they could have watched, as I was doing, over a hundred and twenty-five years later, their descendents mingling with visitors from Iceland.