Icelandic Head Visits Poet's Grave

MARKERVILLE -There isn't much to this hamlet of 10 families, 25 miles southwest of Red Deer.

A general store, a service station and a little community hall, surrounded by a few houses. Not even a railroad. Hardly enough to attract the prime minister of another country, one would think.

Yet, Dr. Bjarni Benediktsson, prime minister of Iceland, his wife and son, spent several hours Saturday in this community too insignificant to be plotted on most maps.

But Markerville was undoubtedly significant in the prime minister's two-week tour of western Canada and the United States.


Because, about four miles from here, in a small family cemetery, a stone's throw from the house he once lived in, is the grave of poet Stephan Gudmundsson Stephansson (1853-1927) a product of Iceland.

This grave, beneath a masive stone monument, was the object of Dr. Benediktsson's visit, via dusty rough roads, to the settled 80 years ago by some 30 Icelandic families

Here, late on a Sunny Saturday afternoon, the prime minister placed a carnation spray, made up in the white-and-red-crossed blue flag of his country, stepped back, and gave a silent prayer.

Around him were gathered the fair-headed natives of this lush, mixed farming community, many of them descendants of the poet, and the members of the 17-car cavalcade that had brought Dr. Benediktsson from Red Deer. There were no ceremonies, no speeches, just meditative silence.


The prime minister was also shown the poet's farmstead, still inhabited by descendants, where he had raised four sons and three daughters.

Another son had died while Stephansson was living in the northern United States, a place many Icelandic emigrants had chosen after leaving their homeland. They later gave it up for the more-like-home climates of Manitoba and Alberta.

The group was then taken to Markerville's sports grounds where a cairn, also in the poet's memory, has been erected.


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