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Commemorative Plaques

The R.M of Gimli boasts two Federal commemorative plaques and three plaques from the Province’s Manitoba Heritage Council Commemorative Plaque Program.

Federal Plaques (Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada)

New Iceland Canadian National Historic Site

New Iceland represents a distinctive episode in the early settlement of the Canadian West. In 1875 and 1876, more than a thousand Icelandic immigrants settled a large tract of land reserved for them by the federal government along the western shore of Lake Winnipeg.

Before 1887, the reserve was essentially self-governing under its own constitution, and the settlers were primarily of Icelandic origin. New Iceland enabled them to preserve their language and cultural identity. Numerous descendants maintain vibrant traditions and close ties with Iceland.

Installed in 2000. The inscription is in English, French and Icelandic.
The plaque is in a park southwest of the main harbour and east of the Viking Statue in Gimli.


Vilhjálmur Stefánsson National Historic Site

Vilhjálmur Stefánsson, noted Arctic explorer and ethnologist, was born at Arnes, Manitoba, in 1879.

In major expeditions in 1906–07, 1908–12 and 1913–18 he greatly extended knowledge of the islands and coastlines of the Western Arctic, and of its people. Stefánsson was an early exponent of the idea that experienced Arctic travellers could live off the land as the natives did. As author and lecturer he became a persuasive advocate of Arctic development. Stefansson Island perpetuates his memory. He died at Hanover, New Hampshire, in 1962.

Installed in 1964. The inscription is in English and French.
The plaque is in Arnes Pioneer and Stefansson Memorial Park, Arnes.

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Provincial Plaques

Icelandic Settlement Provincial Commemorative Marker

In October 1875 the first permanent Icelandic settlement in Canada was established in this district. The original destination of this group of about 250 was the Whitemud (Icelandic) River but due to the threat of winter they landed further south at Willow Point. Near here the first buildings were erected and a townsite was laid out and called Gimli after the home of the gods in Norse mythology. The following year upwards of 1200 settlers located themselves along the west shore of Lake Winnipeg. This was the foundation of the largest Icelandic settlement outside of Iceland.

Installed 1962. The inscription is in English, French and Icelandic.
The plaque is in Gimli Town Park, 4th Street and 4th Avenue.

Sigtryggur Jonasson 1852–1942 Provincial Commemorative Marker

Born at Baki, Iceland, this publisher and entrepreneur became a prominent leader in the Canadian Icelandic community. As immigration agent he brought from Iceland more than a thousand people driven from their homeland by a volcanic eruption. They settled in 1876 on the west shore of Lake Winnipeg. Homesteading near Riverton, he was instrumental in establishing the unique laws and constitution of the Republic of New Iceland. In 1877 he founded Framfari, the first Icelandic newspaper on this continent. This was supported by the community of fishermen and farmers in spite of severe economic hardship and a smallpox epidemic. He also founded Lögberg in Winnipeg. These newspapers contributed greatly to the survival in North America of Icelandic language and literature. Jonasson became a M.L.A. in 1896, the first elected Icelandic-Canadian legislator. In 1930 he was chosen to represent Canada at the millennium of Iceland's Parliament.

Installed 1983. The inscription is in English and French.
The plaque is in Gimli Town Park, 4th Street and 4th Avenue.

H.P. Tergesen General Store Provincial Commemorative Marker

This General Store was constructed in 1898 by Hans Pjetur Tergesen and opened for business on January 1, 1899. It has been owned and operated by three generations of his descendants. It is the oldest operating general store in Manitoba and an excellent example of a rural community store. The vernacular-style building is a rectangular wooden structure with a flat roof. A wooden parapet with a bracketed cornice gives the building a more imposing appearance. The interior possesses most of its original furnishings. The 1899 general store was a two-storey structure clad in pressed tin to resemble brick. In 1912–13, a two-storey addition provided more space for Tergesen’s dry goods and clothing sales, and room for a drug store, dentist’s office, ice-cream parlour, and a barber shop. A second floor that had first served as the Tergesen family living quarters was removed in the 1920s. The building provided space for a classroom, a community hall, the Gimli Women’s Institute, and the University of Manitoba’s library extension service. General stores faced fierce competition—first from mail-order suppliers and then also from franchise chains after 1930. The store has survived because of its ability to adapt to a changing economy.

Installed 1989. The inscription is in English and French.
The plaque is at 82 First Avenue.

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Other Provincial Site Markers

If you are interested in other Provincial Site Markers, please visit the website of the Historic Resources Branch of Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism.


Gimli Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee Markers

The Gimli Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee (MHAC) has also undertaken to honour those places that have been determined to most effectively sum up key aspects of our history. Owners of these buildings and sites, listed below, have been provided with handsome heritage markers (a sample of which is illustrated here).

gimli mhac plaque

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