Who Were The West Coast Icelanders?


Some of the Icelanders who came to the West Coast went logging. They came from a country where trees were scrub birch a few feet high. What do you think they thought and felt when they saw scenes like this?


From a country with no trees to a country covered in vast forests. This forest is outside Prince Rupert.

Who are these BC Icelanders and where did they come from?

A World Beyond Imagining


Masset Haida village

There are a lot of people coming to the INL conference in Seattle. So many, in fact, that it is sold out. Because the conference is being held in Seattle, the focus, of course, will be on the Icelandic American community. However, in the late 1800s, people moved quite freely between Canada and the USA, sometimes moving from Victoria to Seattle, then moving back. A lot of people of Icelandic descent in Washington State are from families that travelled across Canada by train, stayed in BC for a while, particularly in Vancouver and Victoria, then moved to Point Roberts and Boundary Bay. The historic ties are strong.



In the book Memories of Osland there are numerous stories of that emigration from Iceland to Winnipeg, from Winnipeg to the West Coast of Canada and then from there to points south. All you have to do is read a few biographies to realize just how Icelandic a small community like Osland was.

Johan Phillipson in Excerpts from

What They Stole



I grew up in Gimli, Manitoba. Gimli is regarded as the heart of New Iceland. It is, in many ways, the focal point for the individuals of Icelandic extraction in North America and for the various Icelandic North American communities.

When I was growing up in the 1940s, 50s, 60s, Gimli still retained much of its Icelandic character. Relatives and friends still spoke Icelandic over coffee and in the stores. The Lutheran ministers were often from Iceland. A lot of the food was Icelandic, particularly the desserts. We ate skyr and rullapylsa and kleiner and ponnokokur. Iselendingadagurinn was a local celebration for locals and their extended families. People came from near and far to renew acquaintances.

People were tremendously proud of their Icelandic heritage.

Until around 1971 there wasn