Topic – Gimli, Manitoba

Share to Brightspace Continue with Brightspace

Read the Following Selection

Read the following selection, or click on the play button below to listen aloud.

Gimli, Manitoba

Some towns and cities in Canada depended on immigrants to get their start. Gimli, Manitoba, is one of those towns.

New Iceland

Gimli, on West shore of Lake Winnipeg

Around 1875, natural disasters in Iceland left many people in the country with little to eat. Many Icelanders decided to leave their country, and a group of them chose to come to Canada.

About 200 of these immigrants arrived at a site on the west shore of Lake Winnipeg, north of Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Canadian government gave them land to live on and called the area New Iceland. The Icelanders named their settlement after the Hall of Gimli, which is known as paradise in Norse and Viking myths. 

Life was tough for the New Icelanders. They experienced serious diseases, such as smallpox, a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that results in a rash, extreme weakness, and a high fever. The settlers also faced extreme flooding. 

Gimli Grows

Viking statue, Gimli, Manitoba

Some of the New Icelanders left Gimli, but the ones who stayed developed schools, a newspaper, and a fishing industry on the lake. In just a few years, other nationalities were moving into the area, including people from Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Ukraine.

But Gimli has never forgotten its Icelandic roots. In 1967, a huge statue of a Viking was unveiled in Gimli. He is more than twice life-size and stands proudly watching over the town.

The Gimli Glider

The Gimli Glider

Gimli hit the news in 1983 when an airplane ran out of fuel on a flight between Montreal, Quebec, and Edmonton, Alberta. The plane was close to Gimli and the pilot knew there had once been an air force base there. The base had been closed for years, but the runway was still there. The pilot was certain he had to land the plane quickly or it would crash.

The pilot was also a glider pilot, so he was able to glide the plane to the Gimli airbase. But when he got close, he discovered it was now a race car track and an event was taking place on the runway!

Gimli Glider after emergency landing

The pilot was able to avoid hitting anyone on the ground and land the plane safely. Not one of the plane’s passengers was seriously hurt. The pilot’s skill had prevented a horrible accident and Gimli became famous. 

Gimli Today

Icelandic Festival of Manitoba

Each summer, Gimli celebrates its heritage during the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba, or Islendingadagurinn. More than 30,000 tourists flock to the event to sample traditional Icelandic dishes and see local artwork. The festival was first held in Winnipeg in 1890, and continued there until 1932, when it was moved to Gimli. It has been held in Gimli ever since. The Icelandic Festival of Manitoba is the second-oldest continuous ethnic festival in Canada. 

Gimli also holds a film festival each summer. The movies are projected out onto a huge screen set up in the lake. The audience gathers on the shore of Lake Winnipeg to watch the show.

Now, show what you know!

Complete some questions about the reading selection by clicking “Begin Questions” below.