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Stephan Guthmundur Stephansson

Stephan G. StephanssonStephan Guthmundur Stephansson was born on October 3, 1853, in Northern Iceland. He was taught to read and write by his mother and showed an early interest in words and language, composing poetry in his youth.

 When he was nineteen, he made the journey to the United States of America with his family. He, his mother, father, younger sister, her husband and two children all moved to Wisconsin. At the age of 25, Stephansson married Helga Jonsdottir, who was 19 years old. Three years later, Helga gave birth to their first child in 1879. At Helga Stephansson this time the young family lived in Wisconsin in an Icelandic settlement where they stayed with relatives. Stephansson decided it was time to move on and begin a new homestead elsewhere. He moved with his family to North Dakota where they settled and had three more children, all sons. Life in Dakota was difficult, punctuated by drought, fires, frosts and, tragically, the death of his father and his three-year-old son. Again, Stephansson decided to move, this time to Alberta. This must have been a difficult decision for Stephan Stephansson, knowing that the land he was farming was not yielding, yet knowing also, that to leave was to begin again from the little they could take with them.

  Stephansson HouseNonetheless, in 1889, 36 year-old Stephansson left for Alberta with his three children, his wife, pregnant with a fourth child and his now widowed mother. Throughout his life, Stephansson was a pacifist and a political radical. He is probably the most well-known and well-loved of the Icelandic poets in Alberta, and Canada. He and his wife settled and farmed in Markerville, like so many other Icelanders and supported their eight children. Amazingly, it was during this difficult time that he produced his prolific poetry. 

In 1908, Stephan Stephansson published his first three volumes of poetry entitles "Wakeful Nights" or "Andvökur." These were only the first of six volumes of "Andvökur," the last of which was published 11 years after his death. Stephan Stephansson died at the age of 73 on August 10, 1927. He lives on in memory and in his poetry.

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