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						8 • Lögberg-Heimskringla • Friday 8 April 2005
From Mountain to Mountain
Mountain School No. 1548 — a pioneer legacy
This year from April 28 to May 1, the lcelandic
National League of North America will hold its
86th annual convention in Wynyard, Saskatch-
ewan. The town of Wynyard, with a popula-
tion of approximately 2,000, is situated along
Highway 16 within what was the pioneer lce-
landic settlement that stretched along a series
of lakes — Foam Lake, Fishing Lake and the
Quill Lakes. LillianThorsteinsonThorlacius
of Wynyard tells about one of those districts
that went to make up the settlement known to
those of lcelandic origin as Vatnabyggö — the
Lakes Settlement.
On the south side of
Big Quill Lake in
Saskatchewan, be-
tween Kandahar and Wynyard
on the Yellowhead Route, a
small schoolhouse known as
Mountain School still stands.
Situated on the edge of a deep
coulee, daily contacts with na-
ture were always present for
students and teacher. It was an
ideal setting for children to get
their educatjon from 1906 until
1951 at which time the district
was encompassed into a multi-
school unit.
Over the years, the wooden
structure has weathered the
natural elements. It even sur-
vived the prairie fire of 1908.
Thorstein Thorsteinson fought
the fire to the last moments and
then rolled under the building.
Uncle Steini was always a hero
in my eyes.
The prairie school has en-
deared itself not only to those
who passed through its doors
but also to many who over the
years have travelled on the
highway. The little school be-
came a landmark.
The history of all rural
schools reaches beyond any
school district boundary — and
so it is with Mountain School.
Its   roots   reach   mainly   into
Mountain, North Dakota, from
whence the name "Mountain"
came. To that area in North Da-
kota near the turn of the 20th
century, some emigrants from
Iceland came to be with rela-
tives and friends already estab-
lished.
By that time the choice
land had been claimed and of
what was left, only smaller and
poorer acreages were avail-
able. For the young as well as
their elders, their natural inde-
pendence was strong and they
looked for new land. Therefore
when 160-acre homesteads
were available on the Quill
Plains, many travelled to the
lakes area. However they did
not forget their ties to North
Dakota, and often spoke of the
country and its people with af-
fection.
My father, Peter Thor-
steinson, had a special warmth
in his voice when he spoke
of his Aunty Kristin Krakson
and other relatives and friends
"down south."
Those homesteaders from
North Dakota were later joined
by other Icelanders who took
different routes to reach what
was to become the Mountain
School District.
Homesteaders    who    had
MIDWAY
Ambulance Care Ltd.
9-1-1
or 554-3700
Emergency
Offering
Advanced
Life Support
OFFICE&INQUIRIES
554-3882
321 Bosworth Street
WYNYARD

K
PHOTO: LILLIAN THORLACIUS
Mountain School, on the south side of Big QuiII Lake in Saskatchewan.
arrived from North Dakota by
the first years the school was in
operation were Hallgrimur and
Bjorg Axdal, Sigurdur Bjarna-
son, Joe Bjornson, Geir and
Rakel Christianson, Paul Eyolf-
son, Halldor Gudjonson, Bjarni
Helgason, daughter Thorbjprg
and son Sigurd, Jonas and Hel-
ga Johnson, Halldor and Vilb-
jorg Johnson, Ole and Ingibjorg
Jonasson, Thorlakur Jonsson, ¦
Tomas Saemundson, John and
Kristrun Sigmundson, Bjarni
and Gudrun Sturlaugson, Sig-
urjon and Valgerdur Svein-
soií, Fredrick and Henrietta
Thorfmnson, Steingrimur and
Petrina Thorsteinson and sons
John, Thorstein and Peter, all
of age to file homesteads. Join-
ing those were Steingrimur and
Sesselja Johnson, Gudmundur
Goodman, and Gudmundur
and Solveig Thorarinson. Ha-
kon and Gudny Kristjanson
came later.
It was no doubt a comfort
to be members of a group in a
new land — to share similar vi-
sions and also to share the joys
and sorrows in the struggles of
pioneering. ¦ Especially for the
older settlers, many of whom
found it difficult to learn the
English language, it was un-
derstandably a great comfort
to converse in Icelandic with
those who shared a common
background. The oldest mem-
bers were the bridge between
the past and the future.
With the creation of the
school, the young would be
given an education within the
newly formed provincial school
system. With that foundation
and parental guidance, the
young would find their place in
the new land.
From their homeland,
which at times had been harsh,
they brought a special resource-
fulness and determination born
out of those conditions.
This showed itself in such
ways as the making of sub-
stantial woollen clothing, in
working with sheep hides and
leather and in the production
of foods. Some were skilled in
wood working — one home-
steader, Sigurdur Bjarnason,
even made his own violin. In
their farm blacksmith shops,
some worked over forges and
save vou moi
SHANTYINN
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