Commemorating Icelandic Placenames in North America

One of the most unique Icelandic customs brought to North America was the practice of giving homesteads and landmarks names.   This age-old tradition, originating in Scandinavia and the British Isles, had been used in Iceland since the Age of Settlement in the 9 th Century, and when Icelandic emigrants launched their own wave of settlement in North America in the 19 th Century, they brought this ancient tradition with them.
While Icelandic placenames are best known and preserved in New Iceland on the shores of Lake Winnipeg, they also have a long tradition in many other Icelandic settlements across North America - including Markland, Nova Scotia; the Muskoka district of Ontario; Lyon/Lincoln Co, Minnesota; and the Dakota Settlements, to name a few.

The Icelandic Heritage Sign project was initiated in 1993 to preserve and celebrate Icelandic placenames in North America. It is estimated that there are now more than 500 of these unique blue and white signs from coast to coast.   Most visible in New Iceland, heritage signs now mark not only homesteads, but summer homes, residences, and landmarks.   This tradition has even inspired new names consistent with this old custom.