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Icelandic - page 2

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Icelandic and Danish floatEarly Alberta Settlement

As population and immigration increased in the Pembina region, lack of good farmland led to high prices. Along with poor markets for farm produce, debt burdened many in the district. With droughts and prairie fires, resettlement became inevitable. A man named Sigurdur Bjornson was among the men selected to make preparations for the group. After seeking land in British Columbia, Bjornson met a fellow Icelander who had homesteaded near the Red Deer River. Bjornson traveled to the area and saw that it had water, hay lands, wood supplies and fish stocks, favourable for those waiting in Pembina County.

Fendsala Hall Arriving at Calgary via Winnipeg by train in June 1888, the group of eleven families and four single men faced rain and swollen rivers before they found homesteads on the banks of the Medicine River. More families followed, including that of Stephan Stephansson.

Lutheran ChurchThe soils of the area were not ideal for cultivation. Growing wheat was difficult with early frosts and poor transportation, with the nearest rail point at Innisfail, 15 miles to the east. The raising of sheep, as had been important in Iceland, provided staples through the herd's meat, fat and wool.

Makerville creamery The emergence of a cash-based economy came with the opening of a federal government supported creamery in 1899. The creamery was incorporated as the Tindastoll Butter and Cheese Manufacturing Association, run by an appointed manager and the producer members. The name 'Tindastoll'-also carried by the community's first post office-, comes from the Icelandic words tinda, a ridge of mountains and stoll, a chair, reflecting the mountain view from the settlement. In 1899 the settlement was renamed for C.P. Marker, the government dairy commissioner for the region responsible for the establishment of the creamery.

View of Markerville Canadian immigration policy greatly affected the settlement in the first years of the 20th century. Adjacent districts were opened to new settlers. Although more settlers of Icelandic ancestry arrived, other newcomers quickly outnumbered the established community. As well, the building of roads and bridges increased contact with others. Markerville prospered through this era as it became a commercial centre for the newly accessible districts to the west. At the same time, the use of Icelandic as the language of the community was less desirable as non-Icelanders joined the community's activities.

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