The land of the Vikings might seem a long boat ride away from Thunder Bay, but that certainly didn’t stop them from making the trip. When people think of the Viking invasion, they think of the inhabitants of Scandinavia crossing the North Sea to the UK and laying down foundations there. But there were actually Vikings in Canada. What evidence do we have for Vikings in Canada and does the fact that they were in the Great White North add to our love of Vikings in film, TV, and gaming?
The Vikings in Canada
The Royal Ontario Museum has outlined the Vikings’ travels to Canada, as they landed at the World Heritage Site L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland. They traversed the distance many times – including once by accident as they were attempting to travel from Iceland to Greenland. The end of the ninth century saw the Vikings spreading out and attempting to take their domain westwards.
Helge Ingstad announced the evidence of the Vikings being in Canada back in 1961 and ultimately stated that the Vikings didn’t stay in North America for too long. The terrain would have been not dissimilar to back home, yet L’Anse aux Meadows was only ever a temporary base for the Vikings and never used as a fully-fledged attempt at creating a new settlement there. The Vikings had a stranglehold on that part of history and have left their mark the world over, with the ramifications of their travels being seen across the UK, Scandinavia and beyond.
Our Enduring Love for the Vikings
The fascination with Vikings has never really waned for a lot of people. Michael Hirst’s Vikings TV show for the History Channel has been on the air for six seasons, since 2013, giving a dramatic twist to the story of the Vikings. The show personified them with heart and wit and helped teach us the history of what it was actually like to be a Viking. Vikings have pervaded the gaming world too. As the online slots based around Vikings – Viking Voyage and Viking Gods: Thor and Loki – show, the theme of Vikings is instantly recognizable and provides plenty of gameplay content.
Marvel’s Avengers is even based on the pantheon of Norse gods – with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) as key characters. Vikings were also popular topics in the operas of yore. In fact, the horns on their helmets were actually invented by costume designer Carl Emil Doepler for Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen opera in the 1890s. Nevertheless, the Viking look is instantly iconic and recognizable and helps cement our appreciation and love of anything Viking-themed.
The Vikings’ brief visits to Canada might not have dominated the history books as much as their trips to Lindisfarne, in the UK, or other examples of clashes with the locals that the pillaging the Scandinavians were known for. But they did make the perilous boat trip to Canada. The evidence they have left of themselves adds to the rich tapestry of both Canada’s past and of the history of the Vikings.