Icelandic Memorial Society of Nova Scotia
Welcome - Verid velkomin

Markland Visitors

Icelanders visit Nova Scotia
01 September, 2010

Jonas Thor, tour director of Thortravels, and his wife, Anna, brought 18 Icelanders to Nova Scotia on September 9th, 2010, for a one-week visit. This was the second tour that Jonas has organized to Nova Scotia. The group consisted of senior citizens. What energy and zeal they demonstrated!
Fri., Sept. 10: City Tour of Halifax. The weather turned out to be beautiful after a rather black morning. At 1 p.m. the tour left their Hotel Atlantica. J. Marshall Burgess, Chair of the Icelandic Memorial Society of Nova Scotia, welcomed everyone to Nova Scotia. The group first visited the Public Gardens which were still looking quite magnificent. Then the bus took a drive around Citadel Hill to provide a panoramic view of the city. Next came a stop at the Grand Parade where City Hall is located and a visit to St. Paul's Anglican Church, the oldest church in Halifax. The bus took a drive along Halifax waterfront where the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and Pier 21 Museum are located. The tour then went to the north end of the city where the Halifax Explosion occurred in 19l7 and 2,000 people died. Next stop was the Titanic Gravesite where 200 bodies are buried from the 1912 disaster. After viewing Dalhousie University and St. Mary's University, the tour ended by going to Point Pleasant Park to see two cruise ships leaving Halifax Harbour. What a beautiful day for these visitors in our capital city!

Sun., Sept. 12: Visit to Markland. The Icelandic Memorial Society of Nova Scotia hosted the group on this day trip to Markland. At Markland, the group was introduced to the executive/members of the Society and was told the story of Markland (1875-1881 - 200 Icelanders) and the Memorial Cairn erected in 2000. After a 45-minute walk through the old settlement, the group came to Lot 3 ('Stadartunga' owned by Sigurdur Jonsson) where the Society soon plans to erect a replica of the log cabins built by the Government of Nova Scotia for the pioneer settlers. The Society had cars available to shuttle people to and from Lot 3 to the Memorial Cairn. This group insisted on walking in and back! One of the guests discovered that her relative, Halldor Halldorsson Armann, settled in Markland in 1875 on Lot 24 'Austurhlid'. What a surprise this was for us all!! The group was then taken to the Moose River Provincial Park for a picnic lunch and a visit to the Moose River Gold Mines Museum. An informative tour was given by Betty Belmore, society member and member of the Musquodoboit Valley Tourism Association. Many of the pioneer settlers worked in the gold mines here and in nearby Caribou Gold Mines. In this museum are some pieces of furniture made by the Icelanders. When they left, they gave their furniture to local people who had helped them while they lived here. The bus driver then took the group back to Middle Musquodoboit to stop at some vendor's booths in the 50-Mile Yard Sale, held the second Saturday/Sunday in September of each year. I don't think these people had ever seen anything quite like this! Then it was south to the seacoast at Musquodoboit Harbour and along the Eastern Shore back to Halifax.

Mon., Sept. 13: Visit to Lunenburg, Mahone Bay and Peggy's Cove. Erna Jonsdottir, an Icelander who lives in Dartmouth, joined the group for this day trip. First stop was a tour of the Town of Lunenburg, a UNESCO world heritage site. This Town was settled by the German Protestants in 1753. Lutheran Ministers from here would go twice a year to Markland to take care of the spiritual needs of the Icelandic pioneer settlers. The guests got to see the School Academy which is an architectural gem and St. John's Anglican Church. Lunch consisting of baked haddock and blueberry grunt was served at the Lunenburg Atlantic Fisheries Museum. The fishing captains in the group really enjoyed this Museum and the story of the Bluenose, which was built here in 1921. Next stop was to shop at the boutique shops in Mahone Bay and view the three beautiful churches located there. The final stop was to walk through the village of Peggy's Cove and a stop to see the William DeGarthe Rock Sculpture. He was a Finnish artist who lived in Peggy's Cove. Then back to Halifax for yet more shopping!!

Wed., Sept. 15: Visit to Cape Split, Grande Pre, Wolfville and Gaspereau Valley Winery. Phyllis Parker, the IMSNS secretary, joined the group for this day trip. The first stop was at the Grand Pre Historic Site to see the movie about the expulsion of the Acadians (l0, 000 of them) from Nova Scotia in 1755. Most of the Acadians landed up in Louisiana, USA. Next stop was a trip to Blomidon for a panoramic view of the Minas Basin and Annapolis Valley. Lunch took place at Actons, a wonderful French restaurant in Wolfville, which is the home of Acadia University. The final stop was at Gaspereau Vineyards where the group got to taste six different kinds of wine. The maple syrup cognac was a hit with the Icelanders. Anne Bishop and Jan Morell raise Icelandic sheep in the nearby village of Falmouth. They came to visit the group and brought samples of their Icelandic wools. All of the Icelandic women in the group knit, so they were very interested in the wools. After so many samples of wine, we all sang our hearts out on the bus trip back to Halifax. The bus driver, Harry, got quite a kick out of this!

The group flew home on September 19th. This was the second tour from Iceland to Halifax and Jonas is already planning another visit for next fall. Many commented that the trip to Markland was the highlight of their trip. Maybe next years trip will be a fall foliage tour in October including a trip to Cape Breton. The Society is so happy to participate in these tours and make the Icelandic visitors feel welcome here. We certainly hope that more Icelanders will come back next year to visit.

J. Marshall Burgess, QC
Chair of the Icelandic Memorial Society of Nova Scotia


The Icelandic Memorial Society of Nova Scotia was incorporated on July 29, 1998 to educate the public about Nova Scotia's Icelandic past. By sharing the history of the Icelandic settlers in Nova Scotia during the late 1800s, we hope to assist and encourage their descendents and others to preserve this part of Nova Scotia's heritage.