Tuesday, 13 March 2012


From the Fenwick "papers"
Nipigon Historical Museum Archives

The News-Chronicle January 27, 1938 page 1, and 14.
The Lakehead Cities Port Arthur, Fort WIlliam, Westfort, Schreiber, Nipigon


J.M. Hanson Declares He Will Move to Gain Possession of Articles He Believes to Be in Possession of J. E. Dodd

J.M. Hanson advised the News-Chronicle today that he intended to take proceedings for the recovery of Norse relics which he believed to be in the possession of J.E. Dodd. He claims the relics were left in a house which he rented to Mr. Dodd some years ago.

The announcement is sequal to reports of the finding on the Dodd mining claim at Beardmore of relics indicating the presence of Vikings in this country in the eleventh century.

Mr. Hanson told the News-Chronicle there was no doubt as to the authenticity of the relics.
"I believe they are genuine Norse weapons of the eleventh century," he said, "and I personally valued them at $150, although I don't know what value experts might set. The relics were given to me by a Norwegian named Bloch, and he got them from his father's collection of historic weapons in Norway. I think that accounts for the good condition of the articles. If they had been buried in the ground all this time I don't think there would be much of them left."


New York, January 27 - The reported find of Norse Relics near Beardmore, Ont., yesterday brought from Dr. Nels Nelson, curator of prehistoric archaeology at the Museum of Natural History, an expression of surprise that such metal implements had not entirely rusted away in the course of nine centuries.

"Increasing evidence is being brought to prove that Norsemen were the first European discoverers of America, Dr. Nelson said, but he was doubtful that many of the metal relics supposed by authorities to be Norse could have escaped eroding "out of all recognition."

In Winnipeg recently Phillip H. Godsell, author and Arctic traveller, told of discovery of an axe, sword and shield handle, believed to be Norse, on the Dodd mining claims north of Beardmore. Godsell said they had been pronounced by competent authorities to be Norse weapons of the eleventh century, indicating the Vikings penetrated Northern Ontario long before Christopher Columbus reached North America.


One of the strongest props of the Norse theory, Dr. Nelson recalled, is the reputed Runic Stone discovered near Kensington, Minnesota, in 1898. The inscription on the stone was deciphered by H.R. Holland of Ephraim, Wisconsin, as relating the massacre by Indians of some of a band of thirty Norsemen who reached the spot. The stone was said to bear the date 1362.

Holland's translation of the carvings on the Kensington stone has been accepted by many archaeologists and termed the earliest record of the white race in America.

Dr. Nelson admitted that metal objects of Roman origin still were unearthed occasionally in Great Britain. In certain conditions of the soil, he said, it might be possible for iron or bronze implements to have resisted rust through the centuries sufficiently to be recognizable.


Viking spirits of a thousand years ago hovered uneasily today somewhere between a block of sixteen mining claims near Beardmore and the basement of a Port Arthur home as conflicting reports built up an aura of mystery around the discovery of rusted Norse weapons reported to have been unearthed by James E. Dodd while cross-trenching on his property at various times during the past six years.

News of the discovery which was given to the world Tuesday by Phillip H. Godsell, noted Arctic author, was followed yesterday by charges of "planting" when a former Port Arthur resident now in Winnipeg told newspapermen he believed the relics had come originally from the basement of a Port Arthur home. Categorical denial of the inferred charge was speedily forthcoming from Mr. Dodd as he pointed out his first discovery had been made fully three years before he had resided at the home in question.


Archaeologists in Toronto, who had been informed of the find more than a year ago, refrained from comment beyond stating that the relics in question were now in the Royal Ontario Museum and that they had been identified with the Viking period of the eleventh century.

In the meantime, as authorities pondered the meaning of the discovery, speculating as to whether the weapons had been left by the Vikings themselves, or whether they had fallen into the hands of North American Indians via the barter route, J.M. Hanson, Port Arthur building contractor, told the News=Chronicle he had himself owned Viking relics of a similar description some years ago.

The relics came into his possession when a fellow countryman named Block offered them to him in settlement of an account, Mr. Hanson said, and he had been convinced they were genuine Norse relics of the Viking period. He had valued them at $150 and asserted they were "unquestionably the real thing". They had been stored in the basement of his home on Wilson Street, he said, but had since passed from his possession.


According to the grizzled little prospector who has been credited with the discovery, the interest which followed Godsell's announcement at Winnipeg is "just a lot of fuss about nothing."

"We were going to keep the whole thing quiet until we had gone over the property to see what else could be found," he said. "The big question seems to be whether the Vikings reached this part of Canada from the east or from the west, and we hoped that other discoveries might prove it one way or the other."

His biggest worry was that news of the discovery might send an army of inquisitive people to his mining claims to hunt for other relics.

"I don't know how much they are worth," he admitted, "but I had hoped to realize something from my find. And if everyone else gets in there, they won't leave much for me."


Winnipeg Free Press

Classing discovery of supposed Viking relics on the gold claim of James Dodd, north of Beardmore, as one of the greatest hoaxes of all times, E. Ragotte, suite 20 Richmond apartments, declares that the rusty sword and shield now resting in the Royal Ontario museum were hauled, not from a mining property, but from a pile of ashes in the basement of Dodd's home.

"And I ought to know," Mr. Ragotte, rocking with laughter, declared, "for I was the man who actually discovered the rusty sword and dragged it from its resting place in a pile of clinkers."

Announcement of the supposed historical find was made Tuesday by Phillip H. Godsell, author and Arctic traveller, who received word of it in a recent letter from a friend in Ontario. Mr. Godsell expressed opinion that the discovery clearly indicated that the Norsemen actually penetrated Ontario in the 11th century, 400 years before the arrival of Columbus.

It was while cleaning the basement of Dodd's Port Arthur home, as far back as 1928, that the sword and shield were dragged from beneath the ashes Mr. Ragotte declared.


The finding of the armor was reported first by Phillip H. Godsell last Monday. He said an axe, sword and shield found near Beardmore, 125 miles north-east of Port Arthur, had been described by competent authorities as from the 11th century.
Re-affirming faith in the authenticity of the armor, Mr. Godsell last night commented: "Those who have examined the weapons or have them in their possession should be in a position to speak authoritatively as to whether they are spurious or not."

"Information regarding the finding of the weapons was received from a thoroughly and unquestionably reliable source with the query if I had, during my wanderings in that area while factor of the Hudson's Bay Company posts at Long Lac years ago, come into touch with any information that might have a bearing on this find, or, in fact, on any possible Norse incursion into that section of Ontario."

"If the weapons found in the Dodd property were, as alleged, merely of recent Norse origin and of so little value to be left lying among the clinkers in the basement of a house, as stated by Edward Ragotte, I fail to see how they could have found a resting place in the Ontario museum and be passed upon by competent authorities and pronounced genuine 11th century Norse weapons."

The reported discovery at Beardmore recalled the finding five years ago of a "runic" stone at Sandy Hook, Manitoba. At the time the odd markings on the stone conjured up pictures of the husky Norsemen penetrating Manitoba by way of Hudson Bay.

But Prof. R.S. Kirk of the University of Manitoba later pronounced the "carvings" on the stone as "just weathering" and it is now used as a doorstep at the home of E.B. Gibson, Winnipeg photographer.

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