Overview of Icelandic Settlements in North America
Data from Tracing Your Icelandic Family Tree © 1975 by Eric Jonasson, map by Hálfdan Helgason
Dates show the year of first settlement.
Below you will find an abbreviated list of the settlement information. There is much more in the Icelandic Roots Database on these locations including letters, stories, emigration, and residence information. You will find interactive maps and much more in the database. Also, we have more details on this free page of our website: https://www.icelandicroots.com/our-icelandic-heritage
Spanish Fork, Utah
Arrival: In 1854, several people left Iceland as Mormon Missionaries. It took them 10 months to reach Salt Lake City, Utah. The first three settlers traveled south and arrived in Spanish Fork, Utah in September 1855. By 1860 there were 16 Icelanders living in Spanish Fork. This was the first settlement in North America (after the Vinland short-term settlement 850 years earlier). By 1914, there were 410 Icelanders living in Spanish Fork.
Settlement: Around Spanish Fork in Utah County, South of Salt Lake City.
Departures: Some small family migrations to Washington State, California, and Alberta.
Arrival: Began in 1863 when 4 Icelanders arrived here. In 1873 emigration to Brazil ceased with the arrival of a group of 34 people.
Settlement: They first settled at Curitiba and Paranaguá in the State of Paraná, about 200 miles southwest of São Paulo. Later some moved to São Francisco do Sul and Joinville in the State of Santa Catarina.
Departures: A few later settled in various places in North America.
Washington Island, Wisconsin
Arrival: In 1870, four young bachelors left for America. They arrived in Washington Island in the fall. A few arrived in 1871 and 20 more in 1872. By 1885 there were about 70 Icelanders on the island. Settlers continued to arrive until 1895, although it was mostly a stopover for settlers on their way west. In 1900 there were 20 families living on the island. For more information see this video: https://vimeo.com/480881106
Settlement: Washington Island, Door County, Wisconsin.
Departures: Mainly to settlements in Minnesota, North Dakota and Manitoba.
Arrival: Milwaukee was the center of Icelandic immigration to the United States. While some of the first settlers came through Milwaukee the settlement story begins here in 1872. They mostly worked on the docks and the fishing boats. By 1874 there were 200 Icelanders living in Milwaukee. Many more came through Milwaukee but it was primarily a stopover for people continuing west. By 1876, the settlement had disappeared.
Settlement: In the city of Milwaukee.
Departures: Shawano 1874-75; Nebraska 1875; Minneota 1875; and New Iceland 1875.
Arrival: Began in 1873 when 115 people arrived from Iceland. Although it was only a temporary settlement, a few families did stay after the others had left. In 1899 there were 5 families living here.
Settlement: About 6 miles east of the town of Rosseau in Cardwell Township, District Municipality of Muskoka, centering around Hekkla post office.
Departures: Most went to New Iceland 1875 and another Large group to Pembina 1880-84.
Shawano County, Wisconsin (Ljósavatn)
Arrival: Began in 1874-75 from Milwaukee. This settlement disappeared after 1880.
Settlement: In Shawano County around Shawano Lake.
Departures: Minneota 1876; the majority to Pembina 1880.
Arrival: A few Icelanders left Milwaukee in 1874 and found prime farmland available in Nebraska. That winter 3 Icelanders were in Nebraska. More left Milwaukee in 1875 and some came directly from Iceland over the next few years. In 1880 all Nebraska farmland had been sold.
Settlement: Between Lincoln and Firth in Lancaster County.
Departures: To various other Icelandic Settlements.
Arrival: From Iceland in 1874 by 365 people, as a temporary settlement.
Settlement: At Kinmount, Peterborough County, Ontario, with a few families locating a few miles south at Lindsay.
Departures: A few to Markland 1875, the balance to New Iceland 1875.
Markland, Nova Scotia
Arrival: Began in 1873 from Kinmount and later supplemented from Iceland. At its height in 1880 it had a population of 200 people.
Settlement: Near the town of Mooseland Heights in the Musquodoboit Valley in Halifax County. A few settled at port of Lockeport in Shelburne County.
Departures: By 1882 virtually all the people had moved from Markland, a few returning to Iceland, the majority going to either New Iceland or Pembina.
Arrival: Began in 1875 from Milwaukee, further augmented in 1876 by arrivals from Shawano. Settlers continued to arrive from Iceland and Wisconsin after this time and by 1900 the population reached 800 people.
Settlement: Centered around: Minneota, the settlement encompassed parts of three counties in southwestern Minnesota, and was divided into four distinct areas:
The area around Marshall in Lyon County,
The area around Minneota in Lyon County,
The area east of Minneota comprising parts of Lyon and Lincoln Counties (Vesturbyggð),
The area east of Minneota comprising parts of Lyon and Yellow Medicine Counties (Austurbyggð).
Departures: Pembina 1880.
New Iceland, Manitoba
Arrival: Began in 1875 from Kinmount, Muskoka, and Milwaukee when approximately 285 people settled here. The following year 1200 more settlers arrived and, from this time on, a continuous stream of people arrived here primarily from Iceland. The population in 1900 was about 2500.
Settlement: Established along the west shore of Lake Winnipeg, the original settlement encompassed Townships 18-23, Ranges 3 and 4 East of the principal Meridian. Around 1900 the settlement expanded, adding townships 22 and 23 range 2 E. This settlement is located in the Rural Municipalities of Gimli and Bifrost and the Local Government District of Fisher.
Departures: Pembina 1879-80; Argyle 1881; steady migrations to Pembina, Argyle and Winnipeg from 1880-83 (The preceeding migrations were the largest departures from New Iceland almost leaving it devoid of people by 1886); Victoria 1887; Pipestone 1892; Lakes Settlement in Saskatchewan after 1900; Shoal Lake 1900-02.
Arrival: Began in 1877 from New Iceland (11). A continuous inflow of settlers continued from New Iceland, Iceland, and Pembina (13) and by 1901 Winnipeg had an Icelandic population of about 4000 people.
Settlement: In the city Winnipeg.
Departures: Many people moved in small groups from here to other Icelandic settlements. The only major group migrations were to Swan Lake 1890 and Lakes Settlement in Saskatchewan after 1900.
Pembina County, North Dakota
Arrival: Began in 1878, Large groups came here from New Iceland between 1879 and 1886. The Shawano settlement moved en masse to Pembina in 1880, being joined by some settlers from Minneota. In 1881-82 the settlement was further increased by arrivals from Markland. Settlers were also beginning to come directly from Iceland, and a liberal estimate put the settlement's population at 2300 in 1905.
Settlement: The major areas of settlement were in Akra, Beaulieu, Thingwalla, and Gardar Townships, and centered around the towns of Mountain, Gardar and Hallson. Later, as the settlement grew, it expanded to the neighboring townships of Cavalier and Park in Pembina County, Cavalier County to the west, and the town of Pembina.
Departures: Markerville 1888; Blaine, Washington 1888; Swan Lake in 1890; Mouse River 1891; Roseau County 1893; Winnipegosis l899; Brown 1899-1900; Big Grass 1900. As well, smaller groups left for other settlements such as Winnipeg, the west coast, and Utah over a period of years. https://vimeo.com/524951860
Arrival: Began in 1880-81 from New Iceland continuing until 1886. The estimated population of this settlement in 1900 was about 1000.
Settlement: In Townships 5-7, Ranges 13 and 14 West of the Principal Meridian in the Municipality of Argyle, centering around the towns of Glenboro and Baldur, An extension of the settlement to the northeast of Glenboro In 1889-91 added Township 8 Range 13 West to the original area, This extension was known as the Skálholt or Hólar district.
Departures: Pipestone 1892; Lakes Settlement, Saskatchewan 1909.
Arrival: Although beginning in 1882-83, the majority of the settlers didn't arrive here until after 1887, generally from a number of other areas.
Settlement: In the city of Brandon.
Departures: The majority left around 1900 for Vancouver.
Victoria, British Columbia
Arrival: Beginning in 1883, the majority of settlers arrived here after 1887 from a variety of places. The first settlers came primarily from New Iceland.
Settlement: In the city of Victoria.
Departures: Point Roberts, Washington 1893.
Arrival: Began between 1880-85, initially from New Iceland. In 1901 this settlement's population numbered between 500 and 700 people.
Settlement: In the town of Selkirk.
Departures: Blaine, Washington 1888; Winnipeg over a number of years.
Churchbridge, Saskatchewan (Thingvalla)
Arrival: Begun in 1883-86 by people who came directly from Iceland, or who had spent a year or two in Winnipeg.
Settlement: Near the town of Churchbridge in Townships 22 and 23, Ranges 31-33 West of the Principal Meridian, in the Rural Municipality of Churchbridge (No. 211). The settlement area encompassed the towns of Churchbridge and Concordia. Although not in the immediate area, the towns of Langenburg and Bredenbury also had numerous Icelandic residents.
Departures: Lakes Settlements 1892; Big Point 1893-94.
Mouse River, North Dakota
Arrival: Began In 1886 from Pembina although the major influx (also from Pembina) didn't begin until 1891.
Settlement: Around the town of Bottineau in Bottineau County and the towns of Upham and Bantry in McHenry County, The principle area of settlement in both areas was along the Mouse River.
Departures: Swan River 1898-99; Lakes Settlements after 1900.
Arrival: Began in 1886 from a variety of places. Population in 1900 was 56.
Settlement: In the town of Keewatin in the District of Kenora.
Departures: Over a period of time, to many varied places.
Swan Lake, Manitoba (Alptavatnsnylenda)
Arrival: Began in 1887 from Winnipeg with some from Pembina 1890-95. The population in 1900 was about 250.
Settlement: In Townships 18-20, Ranges 3-5 West of the Principal Meridian in the Rural Municipality of Coldwell and centered around the town of Lundar. It was also referred to as the Lundar or Posen settlement.
Departures: Shoal Lake 1889-91; The Narrows 1889-90.
Tantallon, Saskatchewan (Hólar and Vallarbyggð)
Arrival: Hólar: was begun in 1887 by people who had come directly from Iceland or who had spent a few years in Winnipeg after coming from Iceland. Vallarbyggð was settled in 1900 from Pembina.
Settlement: Hólar was in Township 18, Ranges 31 and 32 West of the Principal Meridian in the Municipality of Spy Hill (No. 152) around the town of Tantallon, Vallarbyggð was in Township 19 Range 31 West of the Principal Meridian in the Municipality of Spy Hill No. 152 around the towns of Spy Hill and Gerald.
Departures: Some movement from Hólar to the Lakes Settlements. Others moved from Vallarbyggð to the Lakes Settlements (Wynyard area) 1912.
Arrival: Began in 1888 with the arrival of 50 people from Pembina.
Settlement: In Townships 36-38, Range 1 and Township 36, Range 2 West of the 5th Meridian in Red Deer County (County 23), around the town of Markerville.
Departures: Osland Island 1913.
Arrival: Began in 1888 from Pembina and Selkirk. These were the only group migrations. All other settlers arrived here in small groups from a variety of places.
Settlement: In and near the town of Blaine in Whatcom County.
The Narrows, Manitoba
Arrival: Began in 1889-90 from Swan Lake with later migrations from Shoal Lake. The population in 1901 was about 150.
Settlement: Primarily In Townships 22-25, Ranges 8-10 West of the Principal Meridian. This settlement encompassed the towns of Vogar, Hayland, The Narrows, Siglunes, Silver Bay, and Ashern in the Rural Municipality of Siglunes; and the towns of Steep Rock and Moosehorn in the Local Government District of Crahamdale.
Calder, Saskatchewan (Lögberg)
Arrival: Began in 1890 by people either direct from Iceland or who had stopped for a few years in Wlnnipeg.
Settlement: In Township 24, Range 32 West of the Principal Meridian in the Rural Municipality of Churchbridge (No. 211), near the town of Calder.
Departures: Big Point 1893-94.
Shoal Lake, Manitoba (Grunnavatnabyggð)
Arrival: Began in 1889-91 from Swan Lake, it was supplemented by a large influx of settlers from New Iceland in 1900-02, The population in 1900 numbered about 250 people.
Settlement: Primarily in Townships 18-20, Ranges 2 and 3 West of the Principal Meridian in the Rural Municipality of Coldwell and the Local Government District of Armstrong.
Pipestone, Manitoba and Saskatchewan (Laufás)
Arrival: Began in 1892 primarily from New Iceland and Argyle. In 1901 there were about 100 people here.
Settlement: In Townships 6 and 7, Ranges 29 and 30 West of the Principal Meridian in the Rural Municipalities of Albert and Pipestone in Manitoba and the Municipality of Antler (No. 61) in Saskatchewan, Also Known as Melita district.
Lake Settlement, Saskatchewan (Vatnabyggð)
This entire area was settled beginning in 1892 and at its height extended through Townships 29-34, Ranges 10-19 West of the 2nd Meridian. In 1917 the entire settlement had a population of 3600 people. While generally referred to as one settlement, it is in actuality several smaller settlements adjacent to one another, The first part of this area was settled by people coming from Iceland or the other Saskatchewan settlements. After 1900, the majority of settlers came from Pembina and Mouse River in North Dakota and Argyle in Manitoba.
Foam Lake, Saskatchewan
Arrival: Began in 1892-94 from Churchbridge, After 1900 the influx came from North Dakota.
Settlement: Townships 30-32, Range 11 and Townships 30 and 31 Range 12 W2, in the Municipality of Foam Lake (No. 276)
Arrival: Began in 1903 from North Dakota.
Settlement: North of Foam Lake In Townships 32 and 33 Ranges 11 and 12, in Municipalities of Foam Lake (No. 276) and Sasman (No. 336).
Arrival: Began in 1903 from North Dakota.
Settlement: West of Foam Lake, it centered around the town of Leslie, fanning out for about 4-6 miles, It is in Township 31, Range 13 W2 In the Municipality of Elfros (No. 307).
Mount Hecla, Saskatchewan
Arrival: Began in 1904 from North Dakota.
Settlement: South of Leslie, in a Part of Township 30, Range 13 W2 in the Municipality of Emerald (No. 277).
Arrival: Began in 1903 from North Dakota.
Settlement: Southwest of Leslie, comprising parts of Townships 30 and 31 Range 13 W2, in the Municipalities of Elfros (No. 307) and Emerald (No. 277).
Arrival: Began in 1903 from North Dakota.
Settlement: Around the town of Elfros, comprising pasts of Townships 32 and 33, Ranges 13 and 14 W2, in the Municipality of Elfros (No. 307).
Arrival: Began 1903-04 from North Dakota and Manitoba.
Settlement: Around the town of Mozart in parts of Townships 32 and 33, Ranges 14. and 15 W2, Municipality of Elfros (No. 307).
Arrival: Began in 1904 from North Dakota, with some people coming from Tantallon in 1912.
Settlement: Around the town of Wynyard in parts of Townships 31-33, Ranges 15 and 16 W2, Municipalities of Elfros (No. 307) and Big Quill (No. 308). https://vimeo.com/414920343
Kandahar and Dafoe, Saskatchewan
Arrival: Began 1905 mainly from North Dakota and Argyle.
Settlement: Around the towns of Kandahar and Dafoe in Township 32, Range 17 and Townships 31 and 32, Range 18 W2, Municipality of Big Quill (No. 308).
Big Point, Manitoba
Arrival: Began in 1893-94 from Churchbridge and Calder in Saskatchewan. By 1901 there were an estimated 230 people living there.
Settlement: Around the town of Langruth on the southwest shore of Lake Manitoba in Townships 16 and 17, Ranges 8 and 9 West of the Principal Meridian, in the Municipality of Lakeview.
Roseau County, Minnesota
Arrival: Began in 1893 from Pembina, North Dakota.
Settlement: In Roseau County.
Departures: Piney Manitoba 1897-99.
Point Roberts, Washington
Arrival: Began in 1893 from Victoria and Bellingham, Washington.
Settlement: A small peninsula in Whatcom County, connected by land to Canada only, south of the Canadian town of Ladner.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Arrival: Began in 1895 and increased very slowly until well after 1900. Its settlers arrived from all the Icelandic communities in North America.
Settlement: In the city of Vancouver.
Arrival: Began in 1897 when a group of Icelanders settled in the town of Winnipegosis from various localities. In 1899, a group from Pembina added to the population and by 1900 there were about 100 people here.
Settlement: At first in the town of Winnipegosis. In 1900 the population shifted to Red Deer Point (Township 35, Range 18 West of the Principal Meridian) about 26 miles north of the town.
Departures: By 1907 most people had either moved back to Winnipegosis or had gone to the Saskatchewan settlements.
Arrival: Began in 1897-99 from Roseau County, Minnesota, In 1900 the population was between 50 and 100 people.
Settlement: Around the town of Piney in the Local Government District of Piney in southeastern Manitoba, centering in Township 1, Range 12 and 13 East of the Principal Meridian.
Swan River, Manitoba
Arrival: Began in 1898-99 from Argyle and Mouse River, reaching a population of about 100 by 1901.
Settlement: The settlers were widely dispersed throughout the whole of the Swan River Valley but were generally centered in Townships 36 and 37, Ranges 25 and 26 West of the Principal Meridian, in Municipality of Minitonas.
Arrival: Began in 1899-1900 from Pembina, The population in 1900 was between 50 and 100 people. Settlement: In Township 1, Ranges 6 and 7 West of the Principal Meridian, near the town of Brown in the Municipality of Stanley.
Big Grass, Manitoba (Marshland)
Arrival: Began from Big Point in 1900 although the majority of settlers came from Pembina.
Settlement: On the east side of the Big Grass Marsh in Township 17, Range 10 West of the Principal Meridian, in the Municipality of Lakeview near Big Point.
Lake Manitoba, Manitoba
Arrival: Began in 1900 from Big Point.
Settlement: In Townships 24 and 25, Ranges 11 and 12 West of the Principal Meridian, in the Municipality of Alonsa, This area encompasses the towns of Reykjavik, Bayend, Wapah, and Lonely Lake on the Northwest Coast of. Lake Manitoba.
Osland Island, British Columbia
Arrival: Began in 1913 from Markerville, Alberta and reached a population of about 70 during the 1920's.
Settlement: About 10 Miles south of Prince Rupert on the east side of Smith Island, facing the Skeena River.
Departures: Most had left by the end of the 1940's, many settling in Prince Rupert.
Hunter Island, British Columbia
Arrival: Began In 1915 from a variety of places.
Settlement: In the northwest section of Fits Hugh Sound, about 20 miles southwest of Ocean Falls.
Departures: Everyone had left by 1930.