Ađdragandi Brautryđjendur Landnámiđ Nýtt samfélag Nútíminn

- The Carousal in Winnipeg
Appeared in the periodical "Framfari"

John Ramsay the native Indian
Guttormur Guttormsson

A Farm in America
From an unpublished play by Stephan G. Stephansson

Winnipeg Icelander
A poem by Guttorm Guttormsson

How I got the better of the county council
A tale from New Iceland by Gunnsteinn Eyjólfsson

The language of Western Icelanders
Kristinn Oddsson and others.

Indian Tales
Haraldur Sigmar and Guđjón Árnason

The Carousal in Winnipeg
Appeared in the periodical Framfari in 1879.

Following is the beginning of an article written in the 12th issue of the 2nd volume of Framfari in 1879 about Icelanders in Winnipeg, especially those living in Shantytown. The writer of the article is deeply shocked by people's behaviour there. A short time later, an answer from the 'Shanty-dwellers' appeared in Framfari, jammed between the editorship's rejoinder and a cutting from an anonymous letter about the inebriety in Winnipeg.

Icelanders in Winnipeg.

As is known, a large number of Icelanders, both men and women, reside in Winnipeg. Some reside there permanently, but others are coming and going, staying there only from time to time to look for work. As can be seen from excerpts from letters published in this paper from one of the Icelanders residing in Winnipeg, there is a considerable amount of social contact among our countrymen there; there are numerous good fellows who do their part to keep up a social life and support those activities which may be of profit to and enhance the reputation of our countrymen. Unfortunetely, however, it must be admitted here that all the sheep in a flock are not alike. We hear time and time again that some of our countrymen up there waste more or less their time in idleness, that they actually work from time to time, but lie in idleness in between while they are squandering what they have earned, and that not especially in the homes of those who live in shanties near the Red River, but in addition they sqaunder more less of their money and time in saloons in the city itself. We hope it is only a few, but it is obvious to everyone how degrading such a life must be for both soul and body and how such men, little by little, lose all ambition and energy to raise themselves above such conditions and engage in some finer and better activity in order to become, as the saying is, men among men; they finally become uanaccepatable to human society; it may, moreover, be mentioned what a bad reputation-even though only a few may be responsible for it-such behaviour brings down upon the Icelanders in the eyes of other people, for many people are inclined to judge foreigners of the basis of only a few examples, and so blame a whole people for the faults of only a few individuals. We therefore firmly hope that our countrymen have enough respect for their honourable reputation that such behaviour disappear to an ever greater extent and they find how much more profitable it is, as Christian men agree, to engage in necessary wrok, or to devote their leisure time to education themselves to some extent.

- - -

To the Shanty Dwellers

It is a source of great wonder to us that so many of our countrymen, and as reasonable as we believe some of them to be, who have signed their names to the following article, should have exposed themselves by having composed an article as wretchedly illogical as this one - and what is more - insisted that it be printed in the paper after we had expressed our opinion of it and given them some friendly advice along those lines. As all readers of Framfari will recall, the article to which this essay is supposed to be a reply, or to which it is supposed to object, was written to show our countrymen in Winnipeg how much honour and renown they could win for themselves if they made a worthwhile effort. At the same time we pointed out what some of our countrymen there had done to cultivate fellowship, benefit and honour among themselves, but on the other hand we did not fail to mention the reputation some of our countrymen there had acquired according to what we had heard, and which, unfortunately is all too true. The words which seem to have given rise to the greatest umbrage among the so-called shanty dwellers we shall cite here, so that everyone can see how causeless it is for any honourable men to fear them. They read as follows:"

We hear time and again that some of our countrymen up there waste more or less of their time in idleness, that they actually work from time to time, but lie in idleness in between while they are squandering what they have earned, and that not especially in the homes of those who live in shanties near the Red River, but in addition they squander more or less of their money and time in saloons in the city itself."

From this one can see we have never "accused the shanty dwellers of that," or declared that it was they alone who wasted so much of their lives in idleness and drunkenness, but merely stated what kind of reputation some of our countrymen in Winnipeg had acquired and mentioned those who lived in the "shanties" in passing so they would have an opportunity to dissociate themselves from such a reputation if they were nor tarred with the same brush. We expressed the hope moreover (in our article) that it was only a few who behaved in this manner and later (in the article) we mentioned that more could be rumour than actuality; so it was far from our intention to let everyone - those who are honourable and live morally, as well as the drinkers - acquire an undeserved reputation. And what is even more, now one of those who signed his name to the reply (Jakob Eyfjörd) agrees with what we have stated with regards to the reputation of some of our countrymen in Winnipeg in a letter dated may 10th, where he requests that this article be printed in our paper. He says:" it could be the case among the Icelanders in Winnipeg that they waste time in idleness and drunkenness," at the same time he declares they do not live in the "shanties". That this is unfortunately all too true and that guzzling is not a matter of minor importance is apparent from a passage from a letter from Winnipeg which follows the article by the shanty dwellers. At the same time it is a cause for rejoicing to hear and see that all our better countrymen are disgusted with such behaviour, so it is to be hoped it does not continue very long, or at least become general among our countrymen, although it may unfortunately be expected that there will be some among them who have no concern for their honour, their people or their country.

[The Shanty Dwellers' Reply]

In the 12th issue of the 2nd volume of Framfari is an article entitled "Icelanders in Winnipeg." We consider the article to have been written by the editor himself, although it is unlikely, where he accuses us of wasting our lives to a great extent in idleness and drunkenness. We can assure the editor that neither he nor his rag can substantiate this shameful slur on us for we (all the so-called Icelandic shanty dwellers) work when we can and are free of the habit of patronizing the drinking places of the town. If the editor wishes to have the testimony of several residents of the town in confirmation of our defense of ourselves, we are perfectly willing; we are constrained to consider that the editor of Framfari has wrongfully impugned our reputation in the eyes of all readers who do not know us, but we firmly hope the editor considers himself honour bound to see that such kind of procedure disappears more and more and that he finds it is no credit to Christian men to blacken their neighbours with false propaganda and that those who do so do not occupy a higher social position if justice is intended.

Winnipeg, March 7, 1879.

Jakob Eyfjörd, Sölvi Sölvason, S. Rögnvaldsson, Hallgrímur Hólm, Friđrik Sigurbjörnsson, Erlendur Árnason, Stefán Stefánsson, Páll Gunnlaugsson, Sigurgeir Ţorfinnsson, Jóhannes Jónasson.


From a letter from Winnipeg, dated May 23rd.

"There is a considerable amount of irregularity going on among the Icelanders here, especially in that building known as "The Icelandic House", which Saura-Gisli is now renting. There are dancing and drinking parties, often every evening, and the police have begun to keep their eyes on it. The better people among our countrymen have begun to be disgusted with this, for it brings disrepute on an entire people, and they have protested to Gisli. If this continues, some of the Icelanders are going to lay charges against Gisli. By the way, he was recently put in jail, when he lay in the street drunk."

Efnisyfirlit Heimildir Tenglar Gestabók Póstur
Ritsjóri:  Ritstjórar:  Viđar Hreinsson og Jón Karl Helgason
Höfundur meginmáls:  Viđar Hreinsson
Hönnun og samsetning:  Anna Melsteđ
Vefur c 1999 RÚV 1999