Lögberg-Heimskringla - 07.05.1999, Blaðsíða 5

Lögberg-Heimskringla - 07.05.1999, Blaðsíða 5
Lögberg-Heimskringla • Föstudagur 7 maí 1999 • 5 The Icelanders of Kinmount Don Gislason TORONTO, ON On February 6, 1998 the Lögberg- Heimskringla featured an article about the "Kinmount Memorial Project," to honour a large group of Icelanders who settled in Ontario in 1874. Further adventures of these immigrants will appear in subsequent issues of the paper. Their passage was on the S.S. St. Patrick. What happened to those immigrants reads like a series of unusual mishaps and government blundering. They siruggled their way from hard times in Iceland 4o sickness, unemployment, and othér disas- ters in Ontario. And then, after á bitterfy cold winter (1875) in Manitoba, tliey suf- fered through a terrible smallpox epidemic. These people were the bulk ofthe 1875 founders of New Iceland on the shöres óf Lake Winnipeg. In spite of iheir personal trials in Canada, they enduréd. Their descendants can also be found scáttereet across ihe United States and worldwide. Therefore, the Icelandic Naúonal League has decided to erect a memorial cairn in Kinmount to commemorate this ill- fated attempt to settle in North America, an event which became the springboard for Nýja ísland. Dedication of the memorial will be in the year 2000—one hundred and twenty-five years after thefact. It will com- prise one part ofthe INL's millennium pro- gram. Contribútions to this memorial fund should be sent to: John Gilmore, Treasurer (ICCT), 31 Wild Cherry Lane, Thornhitl, ON, Canada, L3T3T3. Ph. (905)889-9937. Cheques are payable to: The Icelandic Canadian Club of Toronto and earmarked as "Kinmount Memorial Project." FOR THOSE THAT HAD LOST the most, the immediate future in Canada may have looked rather bleak. Even so, if they had remained and not joined the flood of migrants to the West, they would have prospered Ín Ontario. Indeed... "...had they stayed, in afew shortyears they would have seen the local econotny boom as the railway brought new eco- nomic vitality. Maybe the Kinmount of today would have been graced with such surnames as Jonasson, Gistason, Thorlaksson and Bjarnason." (Guy Scott) In hindsight, one wonders who the founders of New Iceland wöutd have been, had the St. Patrick passengers arrived earlier in the year and settled on suitable farms in Ontario. Certainly, there might have been a continued Icelandic immigrant presence in the province from the start. At no point did the Ontario govern- ment or the Victoria Railway Company admit to mismanagement of Icelandic immigration and employment. It was largely through Jonasson's agitations that officials dealt with their plight, and then only after irreversible harm had taken place. After all, they were few in number, hidden away on a river terrace on the fringe of fhe Shield. It was impossible for Canadian authorities to remain ignorant of the human tragedy being played out at Kinmount. Indeed, it may have been a twinge of federal conscience which encouraged Lord Dufferin to lend his support for an Icelandic colony |n Keewatin. Despite his youth and demanding role as intermediary, Sigtryggur Jonasson took up his challenge with remarkable intelligence, organization, insight and sophistication. He honed his skills dealing with government, railway authorities, and construction bosses. He kept a store in Hayford, wrote a mound of letters to the Department of Irnmigration in Toronto and did his fair share of journalism in both English and Icelandic. The skills the Icelanders learned working on the railway, clear- ing the forests, blasting rock and hack- ing out farm lots in the bush would be invaluable for thefuture. Jjaihe end, the ill-fated 1874-75 Kinmount experiment in immigration and railway construc- tion became Ontario's loss ánd Marritoba's gain. Epilogue During their stay in Kinmount, friendships developed between the irornigrants and locals. After fhey were settled in the West letters began to arrive outlining their progress. In January, 1876 The Canadian Post car- ried an article about how they had fared since leaving. Things were going fairly well. However, unbeknownst to thera, a virulent smallpox epidemic was yet to sweep through the new colony, once again challenging their future in Canada. "Accoimts have been received here from the Icelatuiers in Manitoba who left here last fall They say they are comfortable in their new home, and well satisfied with their treatment by the Government. They experienced some difficulty in ohtaining provisions atfirst, but that no doubt was due to the late- ness ofthe season and the long dístance from settlement..." (Jan. 28, 1876) Sources Arngrímsson, Guðjón. Nýja ísland. Mál og Menning, Reykjavik 1997. Barbier, Louis B. 740 Years at First Lutheran. foronto 1991. Cummings, H.R. Early Days" in Haliburton. Ontario Department of Lands and Forests, Ryerson Press, Toronto 1936. Dale, Joseph. Canadian Land Grants in 1874. London 1875. Elford, Jean. The Icelanders-Their Ontario Year. The Beaver, Spring, Winnipeg 1974. Erlendsson, Gudbrand. Markland, Endurminningar frá Árunum 1875- 1881. Columbia Press, Winnipeg 1916. Gerrard, Nelson S. The Icelandic Heritage. Saga Publications Arborg, MB 1986. Gerrard, Nelson S. Icelandic River Saga. Saga Publications, Arborg, MB 1985. Gimli Women's Institute. Gimli Saga. D. W Friesen and Sons Ltd., Altona, MB 1975. Houser, George J. Pioneer lcelandic Pastor: The tjfe bf the Reverend Paul Thorlafyssoh. Manitoba Historical Society, Winnipeg 1990. Jackson, Thorleifur. Frá Austri til Vesturs. Columbia Press, Winnipeg 1921. Kirkconnell, Watson. % County of Victoria, Centennial Histbry. JoHn Deyell Ltd. Lindsajr, 2rld ed» 1967. Kristinsson, Júníus H. Vestúrfarasrká - 1870-1914, A Record ofEmigrants from Iceland to America 1870- 1914. Institute öf History, University of Iceland, Reykjavik ¦ 1983. Kristjanson, W. The Icelandic People in Manitoba: A Manitoba Saga. Winnipeg 1965. Kristjanson, W. Icelandic Pioneers of 1874—Reminiscences of Simón Simohson. The Icelandic Canadian, Winnipeg Winter 1946. Lindal, W.J. The Icelanders in Canada. Canada Ethnica 2, National Publishers Ltd., and Viking Printers, Winnipeg 1967. Lögberg-Heimskringla. ^Tcelandic Emigrants in Toronto". Winnipeg November 11,1988. Lögberg-Heimskringla. "A 19th Century New Icelander writes home". Winnipeg April 3 & 17, 1998. Manitoba Culture, Heritage & Recreation. Sigtryggur Jonasson. Winnipeg 1984. McDonald, N. Canada: Itntnigration and Colonization 1841-1905. MacMillan, Toronto 1966. Robertson, John Ross. Robertson's Landmarks ofToronto, vol. 3, Mika Publishing, Belleville 1974. Scott, Guy. History of Kinmount, A Community on the Fringe. John Deyell Co., Líndsay 1987. Simundsson, Elva. Icelandic Settlers in America. Queenston House, Winnipeg 1981. Archival Material Archives of Ontario, Toronto, Schedules for marriages and births for Victoria and York counties, and Muskoka. MS 932 series. First Lutheran Church of Toronto, mar- riage registries (1870-1880). Metro Archives and Records, City Hall, Assessment Rolls for St. George's Ward, Toronto 1873-78. Metro Archives and Records, City Hall, Atlas of the City of Toronto & Vicinity, Charles E. Goade 1880 & 1890. Metro Archives & Records Centre, Illustrated Historical Atlas of York County, Miles & Co., Toronto 1878. Metro Archives & Records Centre, Toronto City Directory, 1874-77. Ontario Department of Immigration, Archives of Ontario, RG 11, Series A(1875). Various correspondence between the agency and Allan Lines, Sigtryggur Jonasson and oth- ers. Ontario Sessional Papers, 1874 (No.7), 1875 (No.3), 1875-6 (No.60) Robarts Library, University of Totonto. The Canadian Post, 1874-1875, Lindsay. Archives of Ontario, Toronto (N 157 Reel 3). The Trip to North America, Jon Rognvaldsson (Hillman) - 1874, Archíves of Ontario, Toronto, Icelandic Immigration, Pamph. Collection 1977 No. 116, (trans. Valdirnar Eylands). Unpublished Sources Einarson, John. Correspondence with the author. Broad Run, VA 1998 Gislason, Donald. S.S. St. Patrick Passenger List, September 1874, Toronto 1998. Hillman, Lyle. Correspondence with the author. Brainerd, MN 1998. Kristjanson, Hannes & Elsie. Correspondence with the author. Grand Forks, ND 1997. Rögvaldsson. Jón. Æfisaga Rögnvaldar Jónssonar, undated original manu- script. Property of June Hillman Parker, Edmonton, AB. Scott, Guy. Family memoirs. Kinmount 1998. Lögberg-Heimskringla will begin pub- lishing the passenger list of the S.S. St. Patrick in the following issue

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