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First Icelandic Horse in Canada

Who brought the first one?

Who was the first to bring Icelandic Horse & Sheep to Canada?

Partial image of Odin and Sleipnir byJohn Bauer 1911

Thorgeir Gudlaugsson, Þorgeir Guðlaugsson (The Netherlands), a free-lance writer from Iceland, informed, and supplied Roy with articles in the Icelandic paper on Sigurdur Christopherson, Roy's GGF, sometimes written as Sigurður Kristofersson frá Ytri-Neslöndum, who brought an Icelandic Horse to the Baldur Fair in 1885. Thorgeir was writing an article on the first Icelandic horse in 1893, and showing at the 1895 Baldur Fair. Since Wikipedia and others sources had no history about this, Roy thought he would post about this for everyone in North America, since he has not heard from Thorgeir about any article. Posting family evidence regarding the first Icelandic Horse in Canada.

The question here is, who brought the first Icelandic livestock to Canada. Perhaps Sigurdur, one of his two Icelandic Agent associates, all three, or perhaps others as far back as 1850. Mrs. Clark pointed out it could have even been the first Icelandic settlers in North America. A GGM which is mentioned here.

History of the Icelandic Horse on Þorgeir's FB page.

Thorgeir wrote Roy in 2013: "It would be most likely to find any reference to this horse around its arrival in 1893 and few years after that. From the newspapers clips I get the feeling his horse was a gelding, therefore no offspring should exist. The more I think of it, this horse must have been very important for him personally and he might have been emotional attached to it. According to the newspaper clips it was a riding horse of the best quality, having the extra gaits so characteristic to Icelandic horses. It could have been his riding horse on Iceland which he used when touring around the island with Baldvin Baldvinsson, lecturing about Canada. From Icelandic newspapers I noticed that Sigurdur went to England in the spring of 1893 and had meetings with cattle dealers in Loverpool. He is also in Iceland in 1900, then with his son."

To view the articles in Icelandic sent to Roy from Thorgeir click here. (bad link fix Apr 1, 2015)
News clips courtesy of Þorgeir Guðlaugsson
If you are unable to read these in Icelandic, basically Porgeir states that Sigurdur Christopherson took his Icelandic Horse to the Baldur, MB Fair in 1895.

Post Image 1 Post Image 2
Here are the articles supplied to me by Mr. Gudlaugsson.

If you have photo or information on someone earlier, please let me known.


Page from "Come Into Our Heritage".
Here is a photo of Kristjan and Icelandic ponies in the Argyle district near Baldur, Canada.

Here is a photo of a family heirloom passed down from Donna CHRISTOPHERSON Skardal, of a horseshoe belonging to the Icelandic pony my Great grand aunt, Susie rode as a child.
Note the name of the horse.

GRUND
Five generations lived at Grund farmstead in the Argyle District of Manitoba. This shoe belonged to the one and only Geysir mentioned in the story below from the "Come into our Heritage RM of Argyle 1882-1982" book. It was a very small shoe. I happen to have a similar horseshoe hung over my doorway for good luck, that my mother brought back from Iceland. Not quite an heirloom as this. Cousin Mike Christopherson mentioned that that the word Geysir was from the Icelandic language, not English.

Icelandic Pony Horseshoe

"Scratched in a window pane in the kitchen at Grund is the name "Susie". Who was she? Susie was born on Jan. 7, 1886, in the small log house at Grund. She was the fifth child to be born to Sigurdur and Caroline Christopherson.

She was the little girl who used to ride about the rolling fields on her Icelandic pony "Geysir". She would stand on the back of her little pony while she dreamed of joining the circus."


Photo of Susie (Front Left)
Courtesy of the Skardal Family

Proof by a letter from Sigurdur to his eldest son, Willie in 1893 about bringing over livestock from Iceland.
Sigurdur writes: "I intend to bring 6 brown lambs with me from Iceland you will like to see them they are very pretty---
Goodby and God be with
yo [you] for ever Your Father
S. Christopherson

Full copy of the two page letter PG 1, PG 2, as partially seen above. Not to be posted elsewhere without permission.

More proof by way of a 1894 letter from Sigurdurs wife, Caroline about the horses and sheep.
Translated letter by Prof. Ryan Eyford.


Nelson Gerrard at this time has Sigurdur's diary from 2nd cousin Bob, which might mention it. No idea what it looks like. It is written in Icelandic.


Regarding Who brought first Icelandic Sheep to Canada, here is proof a ram was in the Argyle District.
Herbert passing away 1960. Photo might be 1915-1920.


From Cousin Mike Christopherson 12/14/2013
"...I have been procuring more obscure books related to New Iceland etc. from Amazon and received one called My Parents: Memoirs of New World Icelanders (2007) U of Manitoba Press. It was written in 1956 by the children of immigrants from Iceland. Anyway, there is one written by the daughter of Guttomur Guttormorsson who immigrated August 2, 1883 to New Iceland....She does indicate that Sigurdur was the agent on the ship (Lake Huron) and he had on board an Icelandic Horse as well as a number of sheep. Another proof based on actual recollection of the horse story.

Also, the author indicates that Sigurdur was trying to persuade this family to settle in Brandon, Manitoba but they decided to stay in Gimli. She also indicated that Sigurdur left his Husavik, New Iceland farm unsold and apparently Guttomur bought the land with cabins on it at auction for $18 in approximately 1886 and resided their until his death in the early 20th century...."

 

Article on the Versitility of the Icelandic Horse.

 

According to a Ragna, Comment from Ragnar: In 1894 there was 3500 horses exported to England Source

 

When Did the First Icelandic Horse arrive in America?

Do not have the answer...yet! This article from the Lögberg-Heimskringla July 1991 states it was in the early 1960;s to Washington Island, and Wisconsin. Read more.

"Ringling Bros. Circus, 1894... and only Prince Chaldean, the long-maned Percheron, with a mane over nine feet long and dragging on the ground, besides the hairless horse and some twenty-five or thirty pretty Shetland and Icelandic ponies, are exhibited here." Source
Question is, what happened to these ponies? Did they stay traveling with the show, sold off into retirement and replaced?

This page is under copyright, and may not be reprinted, or republished without the author's approval. Linking to the page is fine. Hotlinking is not allowed which this website will eliminate any attempts to do hotlinks.

Importing many, many horses and sheep is not the subject of this article. Many fine people did so in the 1980's.

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2015.11.22