The Vikings Return

by Dr. Marian McKenna

The Vikings Return takes a new look from a Canadian perspective at the so-called "Great Immigration" - referring to the departure from Iceland between 1870 and 1920 of over 20 000 people, representing almost 30% of the nation's entire population.  Over these decades, the majority of immigrants went to Canada, although several important settlements began earlier in Utah, Wisconsin, including Washington Island, and Minnesota.  The chapters narrate their dramatic story, tracing the roots of discontent in the homeland, the origins of the first tentative immigrating groups, and the beginnings of a mass emigration.  This resulted in relatively large settlements in parts of Ontario, Nova Scotia, and in Manitoba's New Iceland.  Emphasis is placed on the plight of the basically rural, agrarian emigrants and the difficulties they faced adjusting to the rigors of their new environment. 

This modern saga, embracing some fifty years of many of the most fateful, stirring events in Iceland's tumultuous history, deserves a retelling for not only those of Icelandic descent, but for all those interested in the human condition and in these pioneering immigrants whose labors have helped to build the Canada and the United States we know today.

Dr. Marian Mckenna, Professor Emeritus of History, University of Calgary, is a Member-at-Large in the Executive Committee of the University of Calgary Emeritus Association.