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Icelandic - page 4

The Decline and Revival of Markerville

Horse Pull Increased mobility and the relative isolation of Markerville continued to affect its overall viability as a commercial centre through the 1920s and 1930s. Serviced at the time by rural roads, connecting highways bypassed the community. As motor vehicles became more common, nearby communities such as Innisfail became important commercial centres. Increased farm mechanization affected rural communities as the need for labourers generally decreased. With no additional immigration from Iceland, the use of the Icelandic language fell dramatically as the first generation of Icelandic settlers died. The arrival and establishment of other cultural groups exceeded the community's predominantly Icelandic population.

President of the Lief Eirikkson Club During this era, the presence of Icelandic descendants increased in Alberta's urban centres of Calgary and Edmonton. The community's high regard for learning and education led many to the colleges and universities of the larger centres. As well, Icelandic descendants from the Manitoba and Saskatchewan settlements moved to Alberta's major cities, particularly during the post-war era. It is in the urban centres where a rejuvenation of Icelandic cultural expression has thrived. Unlike other cultural societies, the Icelandic societies formed in Calgary and Edmonton are largely comprised of the Canadian born generations of the first Icelanders. In addition, new Icelandic immigration has been minimal, although significant in terms of creating interest in the ancestral homeland and traditions of Canadian born generations.

Women in Icelandic dress These Icelandic societies were central to reviving interest in the Icelandic cultural heritage in the Markerville district. This rejuvenation led to the formation of the Stephan Stephansson Society which helped develop and guide the restoration of Stephansson's home as a provincial historic site. The Icelandic National Day celebrations in June and until recently, the Tombola bazaar have resulted in important commemorative occasions in the life of the community. Festive occasions celebrating the lore and literature of Iceland have been organized. Icelandic language classes and camps have also emerged to encourage cultural learning. The Markerville Creamery serves as a museum and interpretive centre for the dairy industry that was central to the early settlement

Importantly, the interest of Icelander nationals in the experience of the so-called 'West Icelanders' has led to increased visitation of homeland and settlement. While the Icelandic presence at Markerville was small in comparison with the Manitoba and Saskatchewan settlements, the naming of Stephan Stephansson as among Iceland's esteemed Poet Laureates has led to sustained interest in the Alberta experience by both Icelanders and non-Icelanders alike.


Palmer, Howard and Tamara. 'The Icelandic Experience in Alberta. ' in The Peoples of Alberta: Portraits of Cultural Diversity. Saskatoon: Western Producer Books, 1985.

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