Lögberg-Heimskringla - 03.06.2005, Blaðsíða 8

Lögberg-Heimskringla - 03.06.2005, Blaðsíða 8
ágberg-Heimskringla • Friday 3 June 2005 Markerville, Alberta has a special chapter in the lcelandic-Canadian history. Steinþór Guðbjartsson visited the site with Stephan G. Stephansson's grandson, Stephan Vilberg Benediktson. Stephan V. spent his roughly half-century career as a Petrolium Engineer in the oil and gas industry all over the world, but Markerville has a special place in his heart. One gets a special feeling walking around where Stephan G. Stephans- son homesteaded in Alberta, and being inside the Stepha- nsson House with the poet's grandson. The history means so much to him and he has done much to preserve it. "The scen- ery in the mountains is some- thing else, this is good farmland and a great area. It was pleasant growing up in Alberta," says Stephan Vilberg as he looks west to the Rocky Mountains. His words echo what his grandfather said roughly a cen- tury ago. In an adress delivered at Markerville August 2, 1904, Stephan G. recited the fol- lowing poem, which he wrote (translated by Bjorgvin Sigurd- son): Copes wood dot the blue hazed lea Frame the verdant meadows As far as human eye can see West to the mountains' shad- ows. Abundant growth enhances the scene Season's clement weather Sunny fields so lush and green Up to the distant glacier. Steel-grey peaks, their crown in blue Bask in sunshine glowing. Iceland, here's a toast to you From goblets overflowing. Rosa Siglaug Benediktson (nee Stephansson) and Sigurður "Siggi" Benediktson first met at the Stephansson homestead. They got married in 1928 and had four children before Sig- urður died suddenly in 1942. "We grew up on the Bene- diktson homestead, halfway between Dickson and Marker- ville," Stephan V. recalls. "Dickson was a Danish com- munity, Markerville the Icelan- dic centre. The Danish people were very good farmers and de- voted Lutherans. They went to church every Sunday, whereas in Markerville the Icelanders were known to drink a little and argue a little bit.That was quite a contrast and father said that we lived halfway between heaven and hell." Tough Iife The Benediktson home- stead was about a mile south of the Heckla School, where Steve and his sister Helga Iris started their formal education. Because the family moved, they graduated from the Tin- dastoll School. "Iris could not speak English when she started school," Steve says, They had two younger brothers, Conrad Benedikt Jon and Sigurdur Theodor Olafur, who have passed away. "The schools were one-room schools and we rode horses to school most days. I started when I was five, took two grades in one year once and finished grade 9 when I was thirteen." When Siggi died, Rosa was left with four children to sup- port. In her book Stephan's Daughter, Joanne White writes that in an effort to stay out of debt, Siggi made the decision to sell his parents' homestead in 1942. "He bought a bare quarter section east of the Tin- dastoll School. In his memoirs, Stephan V. recalls that in the fall of 1942, 'my father, with the help of my bachelor cous- in, Steve Stephansson, a good carpenter, built a 24 by 30 foot shell of a building to live in on the otherwise bare land. Father said it would become a chicken coop after he built my mother's dream house on the hill.'" According to Stephan V., the circumstances were dif- ficult. "Father just got started on the new development when he passed away" he says, "so we were left with very diffi- cult circumstances. Winter was coming on, the house was un- finished and we had very little money. Nobody had money af- ter the 1930s. Things got better after the war, although life was Vtsft u$ on tht web at http:lfwwwJh-inc.ca



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