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The Copeland – Our Own Titanic Saga

There’s always another great story to be discovered in the Icelandic Roots database!

The iron screw steamer ship Copeland, built in Britain in 1874, was used extensively between Britain and Iceland. In July 1888, the Copeland left Iceland with 11 passengers emigrating to North America, 30 crew and 482 Icelandic horses, bound for Leith (Edinburgh), Scotland. After an arduous trip across the North Atlantic, the Captain encountered thick fog. By the morning of July 25th, the ship ran aground near Stroma Island between the Orkney Islands and north mainland Scotland.

Thankfully, all human life was saved but 110 horses drowned when one of the hold compartments flooded. Many of the other horses heroically swam to the nearby shore. By July 30th, the ship slipped off and submerged into deeper water.

We are in the process of identifying these 11 emigrant passengers. Are you a descendant of one of these 11 emigrants who had to be rescued from the Copeland? What family stories do you have of this emigration journey? Icelandic Roots is here to preserve these kinds of wonderful stories.

And beginning May 25th, the East Iceland Emigration Centre will open an exhibit for the summer season focused on the journey itself. Haven’t we all heard the phrase, “Life is about the journey, not the destination”? This wonderful, new exhibit will focus on the various aspects of the journey itself to North America – modes of transport used, routes taken, sights encountered along the way, things many took with them…and the fortitude that took. Stories of the journey gleaned from letters and diaries will bring the exhibition alive. If you are in Iceland this summer, a trip to Vopnafjörður to see this exhibition is a must.

If you can't make it to Iceland this summer, you can still attend the 100th Icelandic National League Convention being held in Winnipeg this May. Cathy Josephson, who developed the exhibit, will be presenting there.

Email us your questions or join the conversation on our Facebook Group.

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