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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
- 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
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"
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
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
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
Isle of Man
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