Iceland and Canada
Iceland and Canada have had a long standing and close relationship with Iceland which began over one thousand years ago when Leifur Eiríksson and his Icelandic crew famously landed in L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland. The first European to be born in Canada was Snorri Þorfinnsson, born to Icelandic parents Þorfinnur Karlsefni and Guðríður Þorbjarnardóttir most likely in the year 1004. Since then the ties of the two countries have continued to strengthen, not least by account of all the Icelanders who left their home country of Iceland in search for a better life in Canada towards the end of the nineteenth century. Today, no foreign country has more inhabitants of Icelandic descent than Canada.
Icelandic Canadian relations received an added impetus in 2001 due to the opening of the Icelandic Embassy in Ottawa in May 2001 and when Iceland upgraded it's honorary consulate in Winnipeg in 1999 to a regular consulate, and the opening of the Canadian Embassy in Reykjavik in November the same year. This relationship has also grown over the years through our cooperation in various fields, such as the Arctic Council, NATO and the UN.
Iceland acquired home-rule through the enactment of the Act of Union between Iceland and Denmark on December 1, 1918, whereupon Iceland and Denmark became two separate states with the same monarch. One of the articles of the Act of Union stipulated that Denmark should be entrusted with the conduct of the foreign affairs of Iceland. However, Iceland directed the course of its foreign policy, but the Danish foreign service administered this policy due to the fact that at the time Iceland had no foreign service.
When Denmark was occupied by Nazi Germany on 9 April 1940, all communications between Iceland and Denmark were severed. No longer was it possible for Iceland to communicate with the King and no instructions could be given to the Danish Foreign Minister regarding Icelandic foreign affairs. The following day, Althingi the Icelandic Parliament, passed two resolutions: Royal power was provisionally transferred to the cabinet in Reykjavík and Iceland assumed the conduct of its foreign affairs. Accordingly, the Foreign Service of Iceland dates from 10 April 1940.
Iceland's first honorary consulate was established in Winnipeg, Canada in 1942, shortly after the Icelandic Foreign Service was established in 1940. Iceland and Canada took up diplomatic relations in 1947. Mr. Thor Thors became Iceland's first Ambassador to Canada in 1948, with residence in Washington D.C. The first Canadian Ambassador to Iceland, Mr. Edward Joseph Garland, was appointed in 1949, with residence in Oslo, Norway.
Icelandic Canadian relations received an added impetus in 2001 due to the opening of the Icelandic Embassy in Ottawa in May 2001 and when Iceland upgraded its honorary consulate in Winnipeg in 1999 to a regular consulate, and the opening of the Canadian Embassy in Reykjavik in November 2001.
Some Icelandic-Canadian Contacts
- Icelandic National League of North America with links to local Clubs
- Icelandic National League of Iceland
- Canadian-Nordic Society in Ottawa
- The New Iceland Heritage Museum
- Lögberg-Heimskringla, the Icelandic Weekly Newspaper