Nipigon Historical Museum Archives - The Fenwick "papers"
Friday February 4, 1938
The Lakehead Cities -Port Arthur, Fort William, Westfort - Schreiber, Nipigon
Bearing on the reputed finding of ancient relics in Northwestern Ontario and possible proof there in that Norsemen were here 900 years ago, J.G. Molinski writes the News-Chronicle from Rossport that a few years ago, while working on the south side of Copper Island, skidding logs, he found an old sword in the gravel bed.
It was, says Mr. Moliski (Molinski?), apparently made of iron, about two and one half feet long, over all and about three-quarters of an inch wide near the handle.
E. Ross Mackay, formerly of Port Arthur and now of Sault Ste. Marie, wrote in his paper the Sault Daily Star a year or so ago, about the possibility of Norsemen having come to this country before Columbus. He pointed out that the idea that the Norse adventurers, who settled in Greenland in the tenth century and explored the coast of Labrador, Nova Scotia and possibly as far south as Massachusetts, may also have penetrated as far inland as Lake Superior is not a new one. There are certain old copper workings on Isle Royale which appear to indicate that that is a possibility, for one thing, the Indians of this part of the continent displayed no skill in metal working before the advent of the whiteman, whereas the Norsemen, crude though their methods were, had for centuries been working in iron and other metals.
Then, too, markings have been found on stones in various parts of the continent which have been identified as Runic inscriptions and which seem to show that Norse travellers reached the interior of the continent. One was found a short time ago in Manitoba. One found a few years ago in Minnesota was interpreted to mean that Norse adventurers had travelled overland from Hudson's Bay.
Ten years ago Prof. Oluf Opsjon read markings on a stone found within the city limits of Seattle as giving an account of a battle there in 1910 between Norsemen and natives, in which twelve Norsemen had been killed, the stone marking this burial ground. Other investigations throw doubts on all the Runic inscriptions.
It is all interesting speculation. Eric the Red, sailing from Iceland, discovering Greenland in 982 and established a settlement there. In 986 Biarni, setting out from Iceland to go to Greenland, got off his course and skirted what is thought to have been the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador before reaching his destination. On 1002 Leif, son of Eric the Red, set out from Greenland to seek the lands Biarni had reported seeing. It is he who gives the first account of Helluland, supposed to be Labrador, Markland, believed to be Nova Scotia, and Vinland, believed to be in the region of Massachusetts. After him came his brother Thorvald and then another brother Thorstein, and after them Thorfinn Karlsefni, who spent three years on his voyage and whose son Snoore is believed to have been born in what is now Nova Scotia in 1020.
According to the American Geographical Society of New York one of Thornfinn's hunting trips took him up the St. Lawrence and Dr. Burwash points out that one old account of the Norse adventurers speaks of five fresh water seas, which would correspond to the Great Lakes. This story of the "five fresh water seas" was, says Dr. Burwash, dismissed as incredible, but the weapons found near Lake Nipigon by Mr. Dodd will give a new interest to the whole theory.
The Norsemen, the Vikings were a remarkable people. From what we know as Scandinavia there went fort men who occupied the Hebrides, Caithness, Northern Ireland; raided England and gave it a king in Canute; occupied Normandy, from which came another king of England, William the Conqueror; founded the Russian Monarchy at Novgorod; established a kingdom in Sicily. Perhaps they were the first Europeans to see Lake Superior, though Etienne Brule remains the first whiteman whose visit is definitely known.