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Halldora's ancestors

Very proud of her roots since childhood, it is obvious that Halldöra knows a lot about her past and family. As English teacher in a Manitoba University today, she likes to help her students to learn about their own past as well.

Preparing a new history capsule for her next class, she was absently playing with the old black and shiny rock that was used as paper weight on her desk. It was in her family since as far as she could remember. Her dad told her that it came from his ancestors back in 1875, and that this piece of rock was in fact an original piece of lava from the Askja volcano, and its eruption was responsible for the massive wave of emigration from Iceland to North America.




Through the centuries Icelanders suffered many natural calamities, disease, starvation and volcanic eruptions, but in the 19th century, new disasters, including sheep epidemics, and a deterioration in the climate due to a volcanic eruptions made things worse. A tremendous eruption started on March 29, 1875 in Askja, in Northeast Iceland. The volcanic ash was heavy enough to poison the land and kill livestock, especially in the East Fjords of Iceland, and famine, death and despair followed.


The road to Askja (photo Julien Jean-Dumontaux, July 2016).


The first Icelander to land on Canadian soil around 1870 was Sigtryggur Jonasson.
In 1875, 235 Icelanders settled on the west shore of Lake Winnipeg. In 1881 the main settlement in New Iceland was Gimli, where Halldöra's Ancestors settled.









www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/articles/icelanders


Svana Jónsdóttir, 1881



Knitting tradition in Iceland goes back to the 14th century and everybody was involved. When Svana Jónsdóttir, Halldöra’s ancestor, arrived in Canada with the first settlers, she was knitting and never stopped until the end of her life. Her eyes could not see the light anymore but she was still knitting a pair of socks on her last day.  Svana used to tell her grand-children that when she was a very young girl, she encountered a fairy who chanted this poem.

If you are already four years old
It’s time to start working
And for that you need to learn three things
Reading, knitting and spinning.

 Halldöra’s Grand-Ma said numerous times that Svana  had  always several projects in the making, and  the fairy said to her : “-As long as you will have an unfinished knitting project, hope and strength will stay in your family”. So to be certain of that she started several projects all together and always had “something on”.


Following the same passion Halldöra is an avid knitter and even if the style of those “lopapeysa” sweaters appeared in Iceland only after the last war (39-45) she still feels the connection with her roots knitting one of those for herself or her friends.


Halldöra is wearing a national costume (Peysuföt) to celebrate Iceland National Day in June 17 and of course she is knitting her next project.



She is proudly showing her Jölaskor, knitted slippers with colorful inner sole.