Author (fiction, poetry, drama, non-fiction, children's literature), editor, professor of creative writing. Adult novels: Gentle Sinners, The Girl With The Botticelli Face; Short story collections: Bloodflowers, Red Dust, What Can't Be Changed Shouldn't Be Mourned, God Is Not A Fish Inspector: Children's books: Thor, Winter Rescue, Frances, The Divorced Kid's Club, Garbage Creek. Taught at Cottey College, Nevada, Missouri; University of Victoria, British Columbia. Retired editor of Logberg-Heimskringla, Canada's oldest ethnic newspaper (Icelandic). Interests: all things Icelandic, Icelandic emigration in the 19th Century, New Iceland, Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba, other Icelandic settlements. Fiction, poetry, radio drama, stage drama, film, culture, history, education.
There are always turning points in political campaigns. They are usually unexpected and unplanned but, sometimes, it is because a political party makes incredible mistakes. Not big mistakes but a series of small mistakes that accumulate. The kind of mistakes that, while small, as they accumulate, reveal aspects of an individual politician or a party that makes people revolted or fearful. The law of unexpected consequences always lies coiled, ready to strike.
One of these was the niqab. It was a dead cat strategy. Get people talking about the niqab and how it was a threat to Canadians. The implications were that the women wearing it were likely to be also wearing a belt of explosives and were going to blow up people at a Blue Jay
When the first Icelandic settlers arrived in Victoria, the city already had a substantial history. In Iceland, there was no military. When they came to Victoria, they came to a city that started off as a fort and, as an outpost of the British Empire, was always vulnerable to attack as a result of European conflicts.
Esquimalt Harbour was used by the British Navy in the 1840s. By the 1850s, a fully active naval base had been established. A fort was built at Macaulay Point 1894 to 1897. That Point was armed and rearmed numerous times as more powerful weapons were created to fend off an invasion. While people today often find the idea of an invasion of Vancouver Island amusing, during WWII, a family that had owned the last house I lived in prior to this one, sold it for a pittance and fled inland because they were certain that a Japanese invasion was going to occur at any time. The Japanese army and navy had successfully conquered one area after the other and seemed unstoppable.
Back in the days when there was an Icelandic community on Spring Ridge, the naval base in Victoria was an active, important place and during the years leading up to and during WW1, it became even more important.
Today, the Macaulay Point area incorporates a beach, a greensward, and winding trails that, from time to time, pass the large concrete and stone emplacements built to defend the West Coast. The old bunkers, ammunition houses and a spiderweb of tunnels (one tunnel goes back to 1895 about nine years after those first Icelanders stepped off the local steamer) are fascinating. The view over the Strait of Juan de Fuca is exceptional
When the Icelandic immigrants came to Canada, they left a country where the soil was only suitable for grazing. Even that grazing land was only about one percent of the total land because the rest of the country was covered in mountains, lava deserts, lava fields and glaciers. To make matters worse, during many years, because of cold weather, the grass didn
Here in the diaspora on the foggy edge of the world once a year the locals put on a fair. This year is their 148th. That means they started twenty years before the first Icelanders skipped off the ferry and exclaimed,
I made the mistake of repairing the holes in my office walls. They had accumulated over the years. You know, pictures come and go. When I bought the house there were not one, not two, not three but four cable outlets. Then the carpenter ants arrived. The guy in the moon suit listened to the walls, drilled a dozen holes and sprayed the nest. There were a lot holes to fill. Good thing that years ago a plasterer had taught me how to fill, sand, prime and paint.
It took a day to fill and sand. Another day to prime and another day to paint. Looks good . After I
Egill’s Icelandic tour group, guests of the Icelanders of Victoria.
I have the greatest admiration for the settlers who came from Iceland during the 1870s into the early 1900s. These people risked everything. Many paid with their lives. They came because they wanted better lives, more opportunity and, above all, land. The Icelanders were not the only ones leaving behind an old life to risk a new one. People were coming from Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, England, Scotland. Later, in the 1890s, the East Europeans would begin to flood into Western Canada.
When Horace Greeley, the 1871 editor of the New York Times, was asked by a young man working at the paper what he should do, he said that anyone who had to earn a living should go where workers are needed and wanted, where they will be hired because they