Gimli, Manitoba

This summer I took my son to Icelandic Camp in Gimli Manitoba. It was my first time in "New Iceland". I had an amazing time and met some very nice people - even went sailing out on Lake Winnipeg with two sisters raised in the area that spoke Icelandic as their first language. It was really fun hearing their dialect, slightly different than modern Icelandic. That, plus the Icelandic flags, vineterta in the bakeries, and murals depicting the Icelandic settlers arriving all made me feel like I was somehow in Iceland. There was even a pub in town called the Ship and Plow I went to one night, with a huge Icelandic flag signed by all the people who had been at the pub to watch the Icelandic national team defeat England in the Euro Cup. It was like I'd found an Iceland I could drive to!

But then I started to notice a few things. Like the fact that the camp was at the Ukrainian park, and that the chef was Ukrainian, not Icelandic. And at the pub, I didn't meet any Icelanders, I met a Mennonite (or well someone descended from the Mennonite settlers).

Since then I have been busy reading, and writing a review for, a new book by Ryan Eyford called White Settler Reserve. It chronicles all the pressures arrayed against the establishment of an exclusive Icelandic settlement area on the shores of Lake Winnipeg, as well as the racist assumptions that allowed Icelanders to be given (well, loaned) that land over Aboriginal claims. Even more problematic, from the point of view of the survival of the optimistic dream of New Iceland, was its proximity to the growing province of Manitoba. As long as New Iceland remained in the independent area of the Northwest Territories, it had autonomy and freedom. But Manitoba wanted to grow its boundaries, and many in New Iceland also wanted more administrative structure and with it financial and political stability.

How long can a White Reserve remain out there in the wilderness, really? Here's some photographic evidence....









Comments

Jono said…
I have wanted to make a "pilgrimage" to Gimli for some time now. My brother has done it, but while I am only 8an 8 hour drive away i have not been able to make it. Thanks for the mini travelogue. I am also glad you have posted again.
Very interesting. I was wondering, who the man in the oval center of the mural/panting at the museum in Gimli is supposed to be. Possibly Stephan G. Stephansson, who is my relative (see how here: http://fornleifur.blog.is/blog/fornleifur/entry/1372164/). Stephan and my great grandfather Þórður, who were cousins, were like identical twins. If it´s him on the painting in Gimli, the artist has made his clothes too fancy and Stephan was not blond as a young man. The woman at the top picture on this entry http://fornleifur.blog.is/blog/fornleifur/entry/1295468/ on Fornleifur was Stephan's mother, Guðbjörg Hannesdóttir. She was my great-great-grandmothers sister. My Icelandic mother is in fact somewhat a lookalike of Stephan's mother, but then again my maternal grandfather's mother (from a different part of Iceland) also had the same features.

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