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Vatnabyggd: An Icelandic Settlement in Saskatchewan
Wadena & District Museum & Gallery
Wadena , Saskatchewan


   Few people realize that
Saskatchewan was once home to
the largest Icelandic
community outside Iceland.
The biggest such settlement
was Vatnabyyður, or Lakes
   During the province’s
homestead period, between the
late-19th and early-20th

century, settlers could claim
up to 160 acres of land for
ten dollars, provided they
built on it within three
years. In 1891, this policy
attracted two young ranchers
of Icelandic origin living in
Thingvalla near Churchbridge,
Saskatchewan, who, after a
long, dry spell, travelled

west to find a reliable
source of water and hay for
their cattle and sheep. In
1892, more Icelandic families
began arriving at Fishing
Lake, near the current
Saskatchewan towns of Foam
Lake and Kuroki, drawn not
only by the lake water but
also by a dry marsh bed to

the south that had hundreds
of acres of tall grass for
making hay.
   More settlers from
Thingvalla followed over the
next eight years, and soon
Icelanders from all over the
continent and from Iceland
itself converged on
Vatnabyyður. Most chose

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