Icelandic Canadians

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Icelandic Canadians
Total population
94,205 (by ancestry, 2011 Census)[1]
0.3% of Canada's population)
Regions with significant populations
 Manitoba 30,025
 British Columbia 22,600
 Alberta 17,075
 Ontario 13,130
Canadian English · Icelandic
Christianity (Predominantly Protestant)
Related ethnic groups
Icelandic Americans
Faroese Canadians, Greenlandic Canadians
Norwegian Canadians
Swedish Canadians, Danish Canadians,
Dutch Canadians, Flemish Canadians
See Icelanders

Icelandic Canadians are Canadian citizens of Icelandic ancestry or Iceland-born people who reside in Canada.

Canada has the largest ethnic Icelandic population outside Iceland, with about 94,205 people of Icelandic descent as of the Canada 2011 Census.[1] Many Icelandic Canadians are descendants of people who fled an eruption of the Icelandic volcano Askja in 1875.[2]

The history between Icelanders and North America dates back approximately one thousand years. The very first Europeans to reach North America were Icelandic Norsemen, who made at least one major effort at settlement in what is today Newfoundland (L'Anse aux Meadows) around 1009 AD. Snorri Þorfinnsson, the son of Þorfinnr Karlsefni and his wife Guðríður, is the first European known to have been born in the New World.[3] In 1875, over 200 Icelanders immigrated to Manitoba establishing the New Iceland colony along the west shore of Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba, this is the first part of a large wave of immigrants who settled on the Canadian prairies.[4]

According to historian Gunnar Karlsson, "migration from Iceland is unique in that most went to Canada, whereas from most or all other European countries the majority went to the United States. This was partly due to the late beginning of emigration from Iceland after the Canadian authorities had begun to promote emigration in cooperation with the Allan Line, which already had an agent in Iceland in 1873. Contrary to most European countries, this promotion campaign was successful in Iceland, because emigration was only just about to start from there and Icelandic emigrants had no relatives in the United States to help them take the first steps".[5]

1,245 Icelanders, Icelandic Americans and Icelandic Canadians were registered as soldiers during World War I. 989 fought for Canada whereas 256 fought for the United States. 391 of the combatants were born in Iceland, the rest were of Icelandic descent. 10 women of Icelandic descent and 4 women born on Iceland served as nurses during WWI. At least 144 of the combatants died during WWI (96 in combat, 19 from wounds suffered during combat, 2 from accidents, and 27 from disease), 61 of them were born on Iceland. Ten men were taken as prisoners of war by the Germans.[6]

Notably, Icelandic Canadians do not typically follow traditional Icelandic naming customs, by which people do not have surnames but are instead distinguished by the use of a parent's given name as a patronymic; instead, Icelandic immigrants to Canada have largely adapted to North American customs by adopting a true surname.[7] Icelandic surnames in Canada most commonly represent the patronymic of the person's first ancestor to settle in Canada.[7]

Icelandic population in Canada

The provinces with the most reported Icelandic-Canadians in 2011 are:

Province or territory Icelandic Canadian Percent Icelandic Canadian
 Canada 94,205[1] 0.3%
 Manitoba 30,025 2.6%
 British Columbia 22,600 0.5%
 Alberta 17,075 0.5%
 Ontario 13,130 0.1%
 Saskatchewan 9,010 0.9%
 Quebec 835 0.01%
 Nova Scotia 620 0.07%
 New Brunswick 325 0.04%
 Yukon 200 0.6%
 Newfoundland and Labrador 155 0.03%
 Northwest Territories 120 0.3%
 Prince Edward Island 95 0.07%
 Nunavut 20 0.06%


Map illustrating the distribution of people of Icelandic ethnic origin or ancestry in North America
Gimli, Manitoba, pop. 5,797, is home to the largest concentration of Icelanders outside of Iceland.

Settlements in Canada which are notably Icelandic by foundation or ethnicity:

Notable Icelandic Canadians

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "2011 National Household Survey: Data tables - Ethnic Origin (264), Single and Multiple Ethnic Origin Responses (3), Generation Status (4), Age Groups (10) and Sex (3) for the Population in Private Households of Canada, Provinces, Territories, Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2011 National Household Survey". Canada 2011 Census. Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2013-06-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Smithsonian Magazine | History & Archaeology | The Vikings: A Memorable Visit to America
  4. "Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan - ICELANDIC SETTLEMENTS". University of Regina. Retrieved 2011-08-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Karlsson, Gunnar (2000). History of Iceland. p. 236.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Bjarnason, Gunnar Þór (2015). Þegar siðmenningin fór til fjandans. Íslendingar og stríðið mikla 1914-1918. pp. 236–238, 288–289.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Icelandic anchor makes Manitoba connection". Winnipeg Free Press, July 26, 2008.


  • Boultbee, Paul G., "Icelandic-Canadian bibliography", Canadian Ethnic Studies. 29(3):82-94, 1997.

External links