The Gimli Connection to the Arctic and Antarctic (EoI 1186) project is sponsored by the New Iceland Heritage Museum (NIHM). It looks into the history of our area to discover the connections with the Arctic and Antarctic regions of planet Earth. Called New Iceland before Manitoba was extended north, we are close, geographically, to the Arctic. However, some thought we would have a problem finding a connection to the Antarctic. Not so. We learned that sled dogs from the west shore of Lake Winnipeg went with two Antarctic explorers, Shackleton and Byrd. The research project was on. We hope to educate our patrons, our school kids, and our summer visitors, as we have educated ourselves. We have two display windows at NIHM with artefacts and displays and two looseleaf binders full of information and pictures gathered from local families, books, newspapers, the internet and the Archives of Manitoba.
THE GIMLI CONNECTION TO THE ARCTIC
(1) An overview of the travelling exhibit, Portraits of the North, by Gerald Kuehl, is in our Traveling Exhibit Gallery. The exhibit is made up of many graphite pencil drawings and biographies of Inuit and Native Canadians. This clip is from the Interlake Spectator, our local weekly newspaper. The man featured is William Cochrane, a local resident.
SHELLEY NARFASON WITH A PENCIL DRAWING OF WILLIAM COCHRANE
(2) A Mayberry Art Gallery catalogue and information about A.A. Ruben, an Inuit sculptor whose latest collection is a meld of Inuit and Norse styles titled Iceland 900 A.D. (3) A Vilhjalmur Stefansson section, highlighted by a family tree of his Inuit family, which he never acknowledged outside the North. Stefansson was born just a little north of Gimli and proudly wore his Icelandic ancestry as we do here in Gimli.
FANNIE PANNIGABLUK and son, ALEX STEFANSSON, c. 1915
(4) The close connection of our sled dogs and their drivers with the Canadian Arctic and Northern Manitoba.
THE GIMLI CONNECTION TO THE ANTARCTIC
Ninety-nine sled dogs from the Gimli area accompanied Sir Ernest Shackleton on the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914. Thirty of the sled dogs on Rear Admiral Byrd's Antarctic Expedition II in 1933 were also from our area.
SIGURJON ISFELD'S SON, STEVE, WITH A DOG TEAM THAT WENT WITH BYRD IN 1933
As a featured item, the family of Sigurjon (John) Isfeld has loaned us the beautiful gold watch that Sir Ernest gave Sigurjon in appreciation of delivering 99 Gimli sled dogs to London in 1914. This is in our Traveling Exhibit Gallery, in a glass case, for safe keeping. The picture is of the watch given to the other Icelandic Canadian dog driver, Jon Bjornsson (J.B.) (John) Johnson. Both watches are in the possession of great grandchildren.
All of our information, except the Portraits of the North exhibit and "The Watch" glass case in the Traveling Exhibit Gallery, is open to the public free-of-charge. We are especially interested in having the school kids visit, and have set up a program especially for them.
Our window display and looseleaf binders are available now (March, 2007). We have already hosted two successful opening days. More information will be coming in and we will up-date at intervals throughout the year. In the Lady of the Lake Theatre, we will be showing an excerpt from a TV programme about Gerald Kuehl and the Portraits of the North exhibit, the opening of A.A. Ruben's art show at the Mayberry Gallery in Winnpeg, and the NOVA production, Shackleton's Voyage of Endurance.
--submitted by Gail Halldorson, volunteer researcher at New Iceland Heritage Museum
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Saturday, 14 April 2007 01:54
Gimli's Historical Connections to the Arctic and AntarcticWritten by Lizzy Hawker
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