By C.R. (Rus) Magnusson Icelandic Roots Volunteer Genealogist Database Media Team Leader Translations Team Leader
Ingimar Ingaldson, Member for Gimli and the Official Representative of the
Manitoba Legislature, along with his wife, Violet (Paulson) Ingaldson, travel via
Canadian Pacific Rail and Steamship from Winnipeg to Reykjavik, Iceland to
attend the 930 to 1930, Millennial Celebration of Iceland’s Parliament: Althing.
The dark-colored article with the title, ''Will Attend Millennial'' appeared in the Manitoba Free Press on their departure date, Thursday, June 12, 1930.
According to the Manitoba Free Press on June 4, 1930, preparations were made for a crowd of over 300 participants to travel over Canadian Pacific lines.
The bottom section of the article notes some of the other dignitaries that also made the journey.
This 92-year-old newspaper clipping was lovingly kept by Violet and passed down to her granddaughter, Valdine Kristjana (Scrymgeour) Hernes.
Starting with an order to CPR traffic officials to reserve two special sleepers. It was later found necessary to increase this number to five to take care of the passages booked. Officials believed that even this number is likely to be augmented before the train pulls out on June 12, at 10 a.m from the Winnipeg CPR Station, which, by 1930, would not have changed much from this photo taken of the station in 1883.
At Montreal, the delegates boarded the SS Montcalm, a Canadian Pacific Steamship, “to cross the briny ocean” bound for Reykjavik. This was a historic voyage for the Montcalm since no vessel since Leif Erickson’ epic journey, 1,000 years before, had travelled directly from North America to Iceland, according to this article in the Brandon Daily Sun published on Thursday, June 5, 1930 on page 1:
The SS Montcalm departed the port of Montreal on Sunday, June 14, 1930, beginning the 6-day crossing of the North Atlantic, bound for Reykjavik, Iceland.
The Ingaldson’s were provided with Identification Cards by Canadian Pacific to be used while aboard ship:
Although their ages are not shown on their identification cards, both Ingimar and Violet were 42 years of age, with all but two of their children now in their teenage years. All six children stayed in different homes while their parents were away on this six-week trip. Valdine’s mother remembered missing them terribly.
From the Manitoba Free Press, published on June 16, 1930 on page 1, it is stated “Iceland will be reached on the sixth day. The ship will sail into the midnight sun when it is in the full height of its glory, at the summer solstice”:
Upon disembarking the SS Montcalm in Reykjavik on June 21, the couple used these Immigration Landing Cards to enter Iceland:
Celebrating One Thousand Years of Alþingi In 1930
The remarkable occasion in June 1930 when Icelanders gathered at Þingvellir to commemorate the thousand-year anniversary of their national parliament Alþingi. Founded in 930 at Þingvellir (“the parliament plains”), Alþingi is considered the oldest extant parliamentary institution in the world. Although parliament no longer convenes there, Þingvellir remains a popular tourist destination located about 45 km east of Reykjavík.
From the organizer’s perspective: How do we accommodate all these visitors to the celebration?
In June of 1930, according to MacroTrends.net, the population of all of Iceland was 109,000 people, less than half what it is today at 343,000.
Reykjavik was a small city by comparison to today. The population in 1930 was approximately 28,000 compared to today’s population of 216,000 living in Greater Reykjavik (the city itself and the six municipalities around it). With such a small population and Iceland not normally expecting many visitors at that time, there were few places to stay in Reykjavik in 1930. The Hotel Borg was apparently the most prestigious at the time. This excerpt from an article in the Manitoba Free Press on May 3, 1930, describes the overwhelming issues the organizers must have faced.
Here are a few images taken in June of 1930 by Swedish Photographer Berit Wallenberg and found on the website: Reykjavik Grapevine. Part of the ‘tent city’ can be seen between the Thingvellir Church and the buildings on the right.
Berit Wallenberg captured some wonderful images during her visit and here is a photo of some of the visitors relaxing in their tent.
The article above explains that many of the visitors, due to a shortage of places to stay in the city, lived on board the ships they arrived on during the celebrations. This was the case with the Ingaldsons. Once the celebration was over, the ship, SS Montcalm sailed to Scotland, likely Edinburgh, during their journey back to their home in Canada.
During their time at the celebrations, Ingimar and Violet Ingaldson might have come across this fellow pictured to the right. Known as Oddur “The Strong” Sigurgeirsson, he was a local ‘character’ in the capital at the time. When his friends gave him this costume for the festival, he liked it so much that he kept wearing it regularly on the streets of Reykjavik.
The Millennial Celebration of Althing
The Icelandic Parliament
930 to 1930
June 26 to 28, 1930 - Reykjavik, Iceland
In attendance were King Christian X of Iceland and Denmark, Queen Alexandrina, Crown Prince Gustav Adolph of Sweden and representatives of many other lands. Also present was Tryggvi þorhallson, Prime-Minister of Iceland.
The celebrations began on June 26, 1930, a cloudy, cold and rainy day. Following a service conducted by Bishop Jon Helgason, the multitude proceeded to the Almannagjá fault where Lögberg (Law Rock) was believed to be located. The exact location is now unsure since the terrain has changed in 1,000 years. Here, from the Lögberg, the Althing was declared open by the King and where the Cantata, composed for the occasion, was given in the afternoon.
Speeches were broadcast to the crowd in attendance via loudspeakers.
Dignitaries representing many different countries presented speeches. Among those speaking was Ingimar Ingaldson, as the official representative of the Manitoba Legislature. He presented his greetings and congratulatory speech in flawless Icelandic.
Here is a link to a short video of the event:
Each Official Representative was awarded a Gold Commemorative Medal
By King Christian X of Denmark and Iceland
Each representative received this special document, bearing their name and who they represented. The document was signed by King Christian X of Denmark and Iceland. It was also signed by Tryggvi þorhallsson, Prime Minister of Iceland. The Icelandic text is followed by the English translation:
Vjer Christian hinn Tíundi,
af guðs náð konungur Íslands og Danmerkur, Vinda og Gauta,
hertogí í Sljesvík, Holtsetalandi, Stórmæri, Þjettmerski, B Láenborg og Aldinborg,
gjörum kunnugt, að Vjer höfum sæmt
fulltrúa Manitóba fylkis, herra forstjóra Ingimar Ingjaldsson
heiðursmerki alþingishátíðarinnar 1930.
Gjört á Þingvöllum, 26. júnímánaðar 1930.
Undir Vor konunglega hönd og merki
[Signed] Christian X
Inscription on seal: ALÞINGISHATI Đ IN
[Signed] Tryggvi Þórhallsson
We Christian the Tenth,
by the grace of God, King of Iceland and Denmark, the Wends and the Goths,
Duke in Schleswig, Holstein, Stormarn, Dithmarschen, Lauenburg and Oldenburg.
make it known that We have awarded
Representative of the Province of Manitoba, Director Mr. Ingimar Ingjaldsson
a certificate of honor of the Althing Commemoration 1930.
Performed at Þingvellir, 26 th of June 1930.
Under Our Royal hand and the seal of the Althing Commemoration.
[Signed] Christian X
Inscription on seal: Althing Commemoration
[Signed] Tryggvi Þórhallsson
Prime Minister of Iceland
This special Gold Medal was struck to commemorate the momentous occasion and was presented to Ingimar Ingaldson by King Christian X:
On the front face of the medal the rising sun is depicted over an iceberg in the ocean and is inscribed in runic symbols meaning: Althingi Memorial. On the reverse is “Ísland 930 – 1930”.
Instituted in 1930 by King Christian X of Denmark to mark the 1000th anniversary of the founding of the Althing (Icelandic parliament) in 930AD. The Althing medal is a commemorative medal and its name in Icelandic is "Heiðursmerki Alþingishátíðarinnar 1930". It was awarded to the members of the Icelandic Althing (42 members in 1930) and to the representatives of parliaments of other countries who took part in the celebrations, including Ingimar Ingjaldsson, a total of only 121 people. It was also awarded to members of the Danish royal family (who took part) and a few persons chosen by the Icelandic Prime Minister.
A rare photo of the Althing Memorial Medal and its presentation case
Thank you to Michael Johnson aka “Great Dane” for information found on this website:
This article appeared on June 27, 1930, in the Manitoba Free Press:
The Return Trip to Canada
The Ingaldson’s lived aboard the SS Montcalm during their stay in Iceland, which was moored in Reykjavik harbour. They arrived on June 21, 1930, and after the celebrations, set sail back to Canada via Great Britain. It is not known, at this point, what date the ship sailed out of Reykjavik or, where it landed, but it was likely headed to one of the North-Eastern harbours of Scotland, likely Edinburgh. Like many Icelandic emigrants, including their own ancestors, they would have left the port of landing via rail to cross to the West of England and meet with another ship to carry them across the Atlantic back to Canada. On July 18, 1930, Ingimar and Violet boarded the Canadian Pacific steamship “RMS Duchess of Bedford” in Liverpool for the continuation of their journey back to Canada, landing in Montreal…
The RMS Duchess of Bedford Passenger List – Date of Departure: July 18, 1930:
From Montreal, Ingimar and Violet would have completed their return to Winnipeg via Canadian Pacific train and once back in Gimli, they would no doubt be exuberantly greeted by their children, who missed them so much, other family and friends; all so happy to have them back at home with them.
Tragedy strikes the Ingaldson family
Four short years after their return from their trip to Iceland, tragedy struck the Ingaldson family.
In the fall of 1934 on September 21, Ingimar went duck hunting with his wife’s brother, Gordon Paulson, the canoe they were in capsized and Ingimar died by drowning. His brother-in-law, Gordon Paulson, was rescued after almost 2 hours in the water.
Story published on the cover of The Winnipeg Free Press, September 24, 1934.
The Althing Millennial Medallion is Now a Treasured Family Heirloom
Some time after the untimely passing of her husband, Violet decided to create a lasting memory of him and their life together by combining two things that meant so much to her. Her engagement and wedding rings and the gold medal commemorating the Icelandic Althing Millennial that they attended together in June of 1930.
Violet’s grand-daughter, Valdine Kristjana (Scrymgeour) Hernes, who has lived most of her married life in Norway with her husband Sigfred, raised their family there and recently became a citizen of that country while still retaining her Canadian citizenship, had this to say about their now much treasured family heirloom:
“My Amma took the diamond out of her engagement ring and had it placed in the center of the medal, her wedding band and rest of the gold were used to make the band for this ring. She wore the ring on all special occasions. I am just so thrilled to have the ring.
When I told Amma I was going to marry Sigfred, she took it very calmly and said something about going full circle. I didn’t really get her drift then but I sure do now.”
Violet was a teacher who went on to become a very successful author of a novel and many short stories and articles. She published a novel, “Cold Adventure” and sold short stories to both American and Canadian magazines. Violet passed away in her 92nd year, on the 16th of April, 1980 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Both Ingimar and Violet are buried at Brookside Cemetery in Winnipeg.
Postscript: Rus Magnusson originally created this story from photos and information sent to him by Valdine Hernes who wanted the material included in her grandparents record in Icelandic Roots (F200581). With additional exploration, Rus found more information about Iceland's Millennial Celebration to add to the narrative.
When Rus showed Valdine what he had assembled Valdine responded, "I am absolutely speechless, you did an amazing job, and I am so very pleased that my Amma and Afi’s story is now so thoroughly recorded for others to see. I am glad that this request of mine brought such a fascinating story."