“Every Canadian should read it.” Phil Fontaine, O.C.
“Vikings is a chronicle of a people, but more than a chronicle. It is a documentary about the interaction between human beings and their environment, but it is more than that. It is a fish story, but it’s more than that! It is a brilliant, expansively written 21st century saga about a small, remote community before the last memory is extinguished. Glenn’s saga preserves the legacy of this community, but it does more than that. It celebrates the immense contribution it has made, from its impact on Glenn and his work to its surprisingly powerful contribution to our national identity. All told with honesty, humour, and heart.”
Paul Sullivan, Journalist and Editor
This remarkable book defies genre. Combining history, autobiography, intriguing anecdotes, and leadership insights, Vikings On A Prairie Ocean shares the story of a people, a community, and a man. In lively and engaging prose, Glenn Sigurdson weaves together a uniquely Canadian tale that breathes life into the generations of people of Lake Winnipeg while providing insight into some of the most significant public issues in late 20th century Canada.
The modern saga explores the rich history of the peoples and communities that Sigurdson grew up with – and whose lives, lifestyles, and identity was connected to fishing. Evocative descriptions of characters within the community interweave with historical context, from the brave immigrants who crossed oceans to Canada to the literary and democratic focus of the Icelanders’ earliest settlements on the lake. Growing up alongside First Nations, the author also explores the relationship between Cree, Ojibway and Icelandic people who worked and lived together in often-remote settlements and humble fish stations at the North End of the lake.
As Vikings on A Prairie Ocean unfolds it reveals the evolution of the author’s path-breaking career as one of North America’s top consensus builder and conflict resolution professional. Sigurdson shares unique, personal stories about the modern change-makers of the country of celebrated leaders such as Phil Fontaine and Emmett Hall, alongside the wisdom of the leadership of everyday people who strive for their communities – during conversations about complex differences over land, fish and resources.
Powerful and deeply personal, Vikings on a Prairie Ocean arches across the universal themes of identity and independence, probing the paradox embedded in the Canadian soul of becoming one while remaining unique.
“Glenn Sigurdson has written a book straight from his heart: part family chronicle; a part personal history of Lake Winnipeg and the fishing culture it nourished; and part homage to Manitoba’s extraordinary Icelandic community and its contributions to Canada. This is a story of how our country was built, and of the iron-willed people who against great odds built it.” Scott McIntyre, Co-Founder and Publisher, Douglas & McIntyre
Find out more about the author.
On Writing The Book:
“This book was born out of nostalgia. I became enamoured with capturing the incredible places and characters I knew growing up in a fishing family on Lake Winnipeg. The first Icelanders arrived on Lake Winnipeg in 1875. My ancestors came one year later. Our history on the lake began that year, with a few fish pulled through a hole in the ice, a bounty that pushed back starvation for the family’s first winter, spent in a shack on Hecla Island. By 1882, the fledgeling steps of fishing as a business had begun off the island’s shores. What became a family legacy of more than a century began with my great grandfather and his brother who emerged as leaders in the blossoming industry and the development of the Icelandic community in Canada. People build their lives on foundations laid from the beginning. For me, it was more than that, for it was on the lake where I learned the essential “tools of my trade,” a trade still in search of a name.
I work within and among diverse organizations—companies, communities, groups and governments—in the public and private sectors, building partnerships and resolving seemingly intractable disputes, often in the vortex where the economy, the environment, and society meet. My role is to deliver a special kind of leadership as the “man in the middle” between big problems and big groups and organizations.
My work has taken me throughout Canada and to many other parts of the world. Navigating the divide between fighting and talking is a tricky journey. The longer people have been in the fight the more it defines who they are, and the more difficult it is to detach them from it. But I also know that the longer they talk the more likely they will stay talking. And as the investment in talking grows the potential to deal with differences takes root in the form of actions enabling individuals and organizations to better live and work together.
I have put these tools to use among many people and in many places, but Lake Winnipeg and its people have stayed alive in my mind, just around the corner every day. How could it be otherwise, with my mind fertilized so richly by remarkable places and captivating characters? Thank God for those experiences, for these memories provided me with countless movies of the mind that continue to move me in new ways. These memories often elicited spontaneous tears or laughter in me, sure signs that they were coming from a deep emotional place. I have drawn strength from them and have shared the stories with many others. They have become my calling card. I am known by them.”