Playfair Park is about one acre. A pocket park. Gorgeous summer and winter. A five minute walk from my house. If there had been time, I’d have asked everyone coming to Atli and Þruður´s reception to meet at the park for a walk around the gardens. We could have done an easy stroll about the park. If we had done that, it would have been with a purpose. I´d have used the opportunity to tell everyone about Christian Sivertz and his family and Victoria.
Hanna Katrín Pálsdóttir and Jon Bjarman with son Pall shortly after they came to Lundar in Nov. 1958
by Nina Lee Colwill
Hanna and Jón on a cruise in the Mediterranean, Sept.2000
(This article was first published in Lögberg-Heimskringla, Canada’s oldest ethnic newspaper. LH is published in English and on-line subscriptions are available.)
It was not just the people on farms swept away by lava who suffered. The poisonous gases and the particulates spread from the eruptions did great damage. In places, the grass was covered with silica granules. The cattle, from eating the grass, got cuts in their mouths, sores developed and from these, blood poisoning. The cattle had to be killed.
Thuridur (177-1863) started working on her father’s boat when she was eleven.l When she was seventeen, she was working on her brother’s boat as a full seaman. She became a foreman. She supported herself and her children but in old age she had to ask the hreppar for assistance.
What was available was driftwood.
with the unanticipated.
PS: Today, I returned to Zellers and, amazingly, surprisingly, wonderfully, after looking at the two right legs, a clerk went and got me another display chair. Now, that is good customer service.
by W.D. Valgardson.
ways of the early settlers in the Icelandic Canadian community in Manitoba. Valgardson,
born in 1939, states in his preface that he grew up hearing stories around the kitchen table.
The stories generally centred on“commercial freshwater fishing in the Interlake area and
the other, the Icelandic community in the Interlake and beyond” but also bore “fragments
of Icelandic folk tales.” The combination of a newland being interpreted with the imaginative
and mythical framework of the old in the manner of the tale is what gives this collection a
certain narrative frisson delectably and delightfully Canadian.
this is no ordinary human, but Gusti, an Icelander, who has likely never seen a bear
before (Iceland does not have bears). Gusti speaks with this bear. An unreported
conversation, but one that left him with the “memory of swirling dark clouds, a
sensation of something primitive, stirring something within him,
could not really saywhat he had seen” (5). Gusti is a poet and is sensitive to the spirit worlds
of other creatures; he is the kind of man who can have a communicative relationship with
animals in a way others cannot. And so it is when Gusti’s beloved daughter Ninna goes missing
that the bear plays a role in her recovery.
of the Lake,” a story of a young woman and a sturgeon, and “Halldor Vitlaus,” a story of
a man who has shot a wolf without reason. Told in quick, easy prose, the stories nonetheless
present their moral and psychological dilemmas squarely. When the community finds out that
Halldor has senselessly killed an animal, they question him about it. “Halldor just shrugged.
He would have told them why if he had known, but he didn’t know” (42). Ingrid, of “Ingrid
of the Lake,” has fallen under the spell of the sturgeon. She confesses to the minister, citing
the only possible biblical connection of Jonah and the Whale as a means of ‘explaining’ her
attraction. But such a story is remotely unconnected and cannot help her; she must undergo
the huldufolk –hidden people – that travel with the Icelanders to their new country. In “Loftur,”
a ghost follows a couple to the shores of Lake Winnipeg; a somewhat comic figure, his meddling
in their lives is not as effective in the new country and at last, the couple makes peace with him
in their new and enlightened circumstances. Not only are the spirits and creatures of Iceland
present, but so, too are the spirits of the Aboriginal people, like Wendigo in the eponymously
named tale in the collection.
and engaging, it artfully combines elements of the tale or fable with the modern short story to
re-interpret the lives of the early Icelandic Canadian settlers of Manitoba. A multicultural
cross-genre work, it heralds a new hybrid form of Canadian literature, well worth reading and
and two children. Her most recent book is the poetry collection Alert to Glory (
Turnstone Press, 2011). Buy What the Bear Said at McNally Robinson Booksellers (click on the
(Ken Kristjanson is a former vice president at the Bank of Montreal but for the purposes of this blog, what is important, is that he is from the Kristjanson fishing family of Gimli. His father, Ted, created a local museum of fishing memorabilia and equipment and was one of the most knowledgeable individuals regarding fishing on Lake Winnipeg. Ken’s brother, Robert, is still a fisherman. I, and a number of other people, have been urging Ken to write up his memories of his family history and his early years on Lake Winnipeg. Here is one of his stories. This story was first published in Lögberg-Heimskringla, Canada’s oldest continually published ethnic newspaper. Although its subject matter is concerned with the Icelandic North American community, it is published in English and can be purchased on-line.)