Life day to day on Lake Winnipeg in my life – but a world that few know of then, or today, but even less so in a history that reaches back into the 1880s. The emergence of a commercial fishery in 1882 and following was the cornerstone of building an economy that enabled the communities within New Iceland to survive.
In 1882 there were only 350 colonists left in New Iceland, in Icelandic River ( Riverton) and Gimli as the major communities then. Without fish, New Iceland would not have survived. it was only when ” good news” started to filter back to Iceland did new immigrants start coming in the period 1887 and after. They came from across all corners of Iceland, and it is this commingling of people from across the homeland ( that would not have happened in Iceland itself living in diverse locations geographically remote) that formed the basis of the population of New Iceland. Fish was the elixir that enabled the survival of New Iceland, and the connection between place and identity along the shore of Lake Winnipeg, this is a story that became increasingly clear to me as I researched and wrote www.vikingsonaprairieocean.com, and started to see it through the lens of my own life and experience, my career.