STEPHAN G. STEPHANSSON
Stephansson Memorial Unveiled At Markerville
Over five hundred people of Markerville district and from outside points gathered at Markerville Park on Monday to pay tribute to a pioneer resident, in the person of the late Stephan Gudmundsson Stephansson, Icelandic-Canadian poet on the occasion of the unveiling of a monument to his memory and the naming of the Provincial Park at Markerville.
The memorial was erected by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. Professor M. H. Long, M.A., F.R.S.C., made the presentation of the monument on behalf of the Board.
Mr. D. Morkeberg in his opening remarks paid high tribute to the late Mr. Stephansson who came to Markerville in 1889. He was a real pioneer and started in a humble way on his homestead beside the Medicine River, built his log house himself and throughout the years proved a real neighbor and a wonderful friend to the whole community.
The Inscription On The Bronze Plaque On The Face Of The Monument Is As Follows:
Stephan Gudmundsson Stephansson, Icelandic - Canadian Poet was born in Skagafyord. Iceland, October 3rd, 1853. He settled in the Markerville district in 1889, where he lived until his death August 10th, 1927.
Ranked among the great poets of modern Scandinavian literature, he endured the hardships of the pioneer as in much of his work depicted the life and scenes of Western Canada, which has shared his affection with the land of his birth.
In the pioneer days nobody had anything but we were all rich in our mutual good neighbor feelings one to another.
"It is most fitting that the late Mr. Stephansson should receive the recognition of not his own community but also of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada by the erection of this beautiful monument to his memory”
Mr. Halloway, Chairman of the Provincial Parks Board spoke-briefly and then officially named the "Markerville Park.”
Prof. Long in an interesting an eloquent address first thanked the Memorial Committee: Mrs. T. Dyer, Mrs. Hannah Johnson, Messrs. C. R. Gremm, Albert Bjarnason and Louis Sveinson for their splendid work.
Prof. Long told of the work of Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, pointing out that in the past 31 years some 500 sites have been marked by the board. These extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and in every province.
Speaking of the monument to the memory of the late Stephan Stephansson, the speaker said it was Dr Watson Kirkconnell, President of Acadia University who first suggested that Stephan Stephansson should be recognized by Canada as a figure of national significance through the erection of a monument bearing a suitably inscribed tablet. Prof. Long then investigated the claim of Stephansson to recognition. Two outstanding opinions were expressed, one by Prof. Halldor Hermarsson, Curator of Cornell University and the other by Sir William Craigie of Oxford University, England. Both were most enthusiastic in expressing themselves as favorable to the idea of erecting a suitable memorial.
In view of these opinions the Board decided that Canada should do honor to the memory of Stephan G. Stephansson.
"In this materialistic age when wealth and power bulk so largely in the minds of men it is indeed a salutary and soul-saving thing that we should pay tribute, as we do now, to the qualities of mind and heart and spirit which Stephansson embodied, things which will endure and shine forth like a beacon to mankind after grosser things have passed away."
"It is fitting that we should have with us today Jacob K. Stephannson, son of the great Icelandic-Canadian poet to unveil the national Memorial on behalf of the Government of Canada."
Mr. O. Sigurdson another old-timer of Markerville and close friend of Mr. Stephansson was then called upon. He paid a glowing tribute to the memory of his neighbor as a man worthy of recognition by the community in which he lived for so many years and in which he had done his part in building. Mr. Sigurdson then read one of Mr. Stephansson's poems in Icelandic.
Prof. Skuli Johnson, M.A. of the University of Manitoba was the speaker of the day and delivered a most eloquent and interesting address. The speaker who has evidently taken a keen interest in the poetry of Mr. Stephansson gave a very learned talk on the works of the poet. Prof. Johnson had also made translations of many of the poems. Some of these he read in English translation, revealed that Mr. Stephansson had a real poetic mind and beauty of language and vision not often met with among our Canadian authors. He paid glowing tribute to both the material and style. And when the last of all my days is over; The last page turned; And what-so-ever shall be deemed in wages that I have earned: In such a mood I hope to be composing my sweetest lay; And then—extend my hand to all the world And pass away. It was felt by many of those present that the speaker's address should be printed and if possible distributed at least among the Icelandic people or the district.
THE INNISFAIL PROVINCE, THURSDAY 7, SEPTEMBER 1950.