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Norwegian Vikings from Iceland settling in Canada
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The discovery of The Americas claims to be owed to an Icelandic Viking, Bjarni Herjolfsson, who lost his way on sea to Greenland, and instead landed in Labrador or Baffin Island in Canada, where he could make trades with the local inuits, but where the world lost track of him. However, rumours of the new land had already reached Greenland and Erik the Red's family. It was Erik's son, Leif Eriksson, who in 1000 decided to follow the track of Bjarni Herjolfsson, and thus became the first "registered" European in The Americas. 

I am unaware of any Canadian stamp, national or  provincial, showing Leif Erikson himself, so I have instead found an issue from the United States, commemorating the 11th century of the Norse explorer, who was the first European to set foot on the American continent, at the place he called Vinland. The statue on the stamp is created by the American sculptor  Stirling Calder, and stands in Reykjavik on Iceland. It is a gift from the United States Government to Iceland. 

There is, however one Canadian stamp showing a Viking ship. Canadian Postal Archives mention in the historical notice about this issue, that the oldest known European settlement in the New World, l'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, was established by Norse colonists a thousand years ago. 
  • Canada 2000. Viking Ship from the Canadian World Heritage Site "L'Anse Aux Meadows". 
  • USA 1968. Leif Erikson statue in Reykjavik by the American sculptor Stirling Calder. 

Canada 2000. Viking Ship from the Canadian World Heritage Site "L'Anse Aux Meadows",

USA 1968. Leif Erikson statue in Reykjavik. 

Iceland 1938. Souvenir sheet to Leif Ericsson's Day, presented for the World Fair in New York.

  • Iceland 1938. Souvenir sheet to Leif Ericsson's Day, presented for the World Fair in New York. The stamps show two angles of the Ericsson-statue in Reykavik. In the center is a stamp with Iceland's position on the world globe. The stamp on the right shows by large the same image as the American stamp above.  

On his first exploration to the lands west of Greenland he landed at a place he would call "Wineland", probably because he found wild grapes growing there. 

Notice to French-speaking stamp collectors 
English and French languages explain the term "Vinland" differently, so French archeological and etymological literature may well be in opposition to the current English translation of "Vinland" as "Wineland".

Iceland 1982. Europa Issue. Allegorical drawing of Leif Eriksson in front of his ship, holding symbolic grapes.
  • Iceland 1982. Europa Issue. Allegorical drawing of Leif Eriksson in front of his ship, holding symbolic grapes. The text on the stamp reads "Finding of Wineland in the year 1000". 

Iceland 1939. Statue of Thorfinn Karlsefni in Reykjavik. 

Two years later, in 1002, the Icelandic merchant Thorfinn Karlsefni married Gudrid Thorbjørnsdottir, who was a widow of one of Erik the Red's sons, and thus a relative of Leif Eriksson. 

The couple immediately set out to establish themselves in the new land of Vinland, a land that appeared to have no frost in winter, and where they also found plenty of wild grapes and other wild crops, most probably at the Bay of St. Lawrence, which at the time was the northern limit for wild grapes, and the southern limit for the Atlantic salmon. 

This place is today known L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site, a Canadian National Park, which has been designated as World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. 

  • Iceland 1939. Statue of Thorfinn Karlsefni in Reykjavik. 

Gudrid's first baby in her new marriage, the son Snorri, was the first European to be born in The Americas. Gudrid herself has become a legendary Viking woman. There are several statues of her and her family throughout Canada, and also a stage play has been performed in celebration of her. 

The saga of the Norwegian Vikings in 
Norway     Faeroe Islands     Iceland     Greenland     Canada     Isle of Man

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Copyrighted © 14th January 2007. All Rights Reserved
Revised 15-feb-2007

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Contact me: Ann Mette Heindorff