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    Canada The Norse
    Source: The Library of Congress Country Studies

    What Europeans considered a "New World" was in fact home to Native people for over 15,000 years before the first Europeans landed on the eastern shores of North America. Around A.D. 1000, the medieval Norse (Vikings) established the first European settlement, on the northern coast of Newfoundland, but they only stayed for a brief period.

    At the end of the ninth century, a gradual migration began across the North Atlantic. Several hundred families left the Norwegian coast aboard knorrs -- rugged cargo vessels three times larger than the coasters then plying the North Sea -- to settle in Iceland. A century later, Eric the Red led their descendants to Greenland and a few of them followed his son, Leif the Lucky, as far as North America. Since the Norse used open ships offering no protection from the elements and lacked even the most rudimentary navigational devices, they had to cross the North Atlantic island by island, from Norway to North America. Each leg of the journey was about 600 kilometres.

    Speculation about the Norse expeditions to North America was based primarily on traditional Icelandic sagas, which are supported by direct evidence uncovered by archaeologists since the 1960s. A handful of Norse artifacts scattered across the islands of the High Arctic and the remains of a settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, suggest unequivocally that the Norse were present in North America 500 years before Christopher Columbus arrived in l492.

    NOTE: The information regarding Canada on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Canada The Norse information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Canada The Norse should be addressed to the Library of Congress.

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    Revised 04-Jul-02
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