Stephansson Cenotaph Unveiled - July 19, 1936

Interesting Ceremony Takes Place At Home Of Late St. G. Stephansson, Markerville.

An impressive ceremony marked the unveiling of the Stephansson monument located in the private cemetery of the Stephansson family on their farm, 3 miles north of Markerville, Sunday afternoon, July 19th, before a large gathering of the late poet's compatriots and admirers. Mr. Ofeigur Sigurdson, opened the ceremony with a breif address. He was the prime mover in erecting the memorial, which was financed by popular subscription, the money being raised by Mr. Sigurdson's efforts among the Icelanders in Canada and the United States. Acknowledgement for each individual subscription was made by Mr. Sigurdson through the Icelandic papers, Logberg and Heimskringla, published in Winnipeg.

The singing of O Canada opened the ceremony. A choir led by Mr. W. S. Johnson of Markerville, and assisted by Miss Marian Plummer of Blaine led the sinking. The dedication address was delivered by the Rev. Rognvaldur Petursson, D. D., president of The Icelandic National League of America, who paid tribute to the "greatness of Stephan G. Stephansson, the leading poet of his generation. Mrs. Plummer who once lived with the Stephansson family, unveiled the monument which had been decorated with the Canadian and Icelandic flags.

Two of Stephansson's poems, which have been set to music were sung by the choir also a well-known Icelandic hymn was sung. Mr. Edward Thorlaksson, high school teacher of Calgary who spoke in Icelandic, referred to the poet's attitude on war and peace, and he predicted that Stephansson's views would gain ground with the passing of time.

Mr. D. Morkeberg, prominent resident of the district paid a tribute to his old-time friend and neighbor, whom he said he knew better as a man than as a poet. A brief address Lin English was delivered by Mr. Thorvaldur Petursson, M.A., of Winnipeg, who quoted the opinions of Prof. Kirkconnell in regard to Stephansson as a poet.

Mr. Bjarni Jonsson and Mr. Johann Bjornsson, both old timers in the Icelandic settlement of Markerville spoke in heartfelt tribute to their former friend and neighbor. Mr. Jonsson read Stephansson's poem, "Vid Verkalok," which has been translated into English under the title, "At Close of Day," by Mrs. J. Johnson, of Seattle, Washington.

Stephan G. Stephansson, born in Iceland in 1853, migrated to Milwaukee, Wis., in 1873. Later he moved to the Icelandic settlement in North Dakota. In the summer of 1889 he came to Markerville with his family, where he farmed until his death, August 10th., 1927. He is survived by his widow, Helga, and three sons and three daughters.

Stephansson wrote entirely in Icelandic, therefore he is unknown to the English reading public. Scholars are beginning to take note of him. Recently Prof. Watson Kirkconnell, distinguished Canadian scholar wrote about Stephansson as a great poet. He has also translated a number of his poems. Discussing the poet's place in literature Kirkconnell says, "his breadth of literary knowledge, his historical sense, and his philosophical wisdom, all give him an assured place in modern Scandinavian literature and a permanent claim it on the regards of Canadians, it is quite possible that he will some day be acknowledged as the earliest peer of first rank, writing in any language to emerge in the national life of Canada. Kirkconnell further states that the Stephansson monument will become a literary shrine of which Canadians and Icelanders will be proud.

Stephansson's published works, under the name, Andvokur, comprise five volumes, while he left enough verse to bring his output to 2,000 pages, which does not include a voluminous amount of prose. The ceremony was brought to a close with the singing of the Icelandic anthem, Endgamia Isafold and God Save the King. A reception at the Stephansson home followed.


Historical Site Named

A 12-acre parcel of land on the Medicine River near Markerville now has been formally designated as the "Stephansson Historical Site," according to an-official announcement in the Alberta Gazette under the Provincial Parks Act. The site is being used to commemorate the famous Icelandic poet Stephen Stephansson, who lived on the property for years. The land was acquired for the historical site from G. T. Bjornson of Markerville and now is owned by the provincial government.


Home Page | Links | Contact Us | Top Page

Home Page - Stephan G. Stephansson