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Stephan G. Stephansson House

Markerville, Near

Other Names:
S. G. Stephansson Residence
S.G. Stephansson Residence
SG Stephansson Residence
Stefansson Homestead
Stephansson House
Stephansson House Historic Site
Stephansson House Provincial Historic Site
Stephansson Residence

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
Stephansson House is a one and one-half storey log and wood frame cottage painted in bright pink with lime green trim, in a vernacular Victorian neo-Gothic style, with landscape features, located on 1.7 hectares in a rural setting north of Markerville in west-central Alberta.

Heritage Value
Stephansson House Provincial Historic Site is significant for its association with the Icelandic-Canadian poet Stephan Gudmundsson Stephansson, whose homesteading experience also speaks to the larger history of Icelandic settlement in Alberta.

Born in northern Iceland, Stephansson emigrated to North America in 1873: first to Wisconsin, then the Dakota Territory, finally to this Alberta homestead in 1889. Stephansson built the original log cabin and expanded it on a couple of occasions to meet the needs of his growing family. Stephansson lived here until his death in 1927.

Literacy and literature were highly valued in the Icelandic culture, and Stephansson (sometimes called the "Shakespeare of Iceland") became a significant figure for his poetry on such themes as the Alberta landscape, war, religion, history and tradition, despite his controversial beliefs as an agnostic and pacificst. His poems were printed in Icelandic language newspapers and he was an invited speaker in the United States, Canada, and Iceland. In 1892, Stephansson donated land for a school in part to ensure children would have an opportunity to learn Icelandic. He was the first Chairman of the Hola School board, and boarded visiting teachers in his home.

Stephansson House represents the Icelandic settlement experience. Stephansson was part of a wave of emigration from Iceland as a result of years of poor weather and volcanic eruptions. Like other ethnic groups, the Icelandic emigrants preferred to settle in blocks. Stephansson participated in the local sheep and dairy industry and experimented with a variety of grains including rye and the new Marquis wheat.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 311)

Character-Defining Elements
The heritage value of Stephansson House resides in picturesque elements of its Victorian era Gothic Cottage design such as:
- form, mass and style;
- log construction with frame additions covered with cove ship-lap wood siding;
- fenestration pattern including a second-storey dormer and main-storey bay window;
- verandah with lattice handrail;
- picturesque details such as latticework, scrollwork and floral ornamentation;
- gable cedar shingle roof with three lightning rods;
- restored interior and exterior colour scheme;
- restored interior linoleum wall covering;
- fir flooring;
- door and window trim and decorated mouldings;
- interior main floor layout including study, pantry, kitchen, spinning room and bedrooms;
-interior second floor layout including sleeping areas
- original artifacts including the spinning wheel, bedstead, desk and chair, writing set, and stove;
- pre-World War One landscaping with flower beds and plantings including spruce and poplar trees and caragana.


Street Address:
Community: Markerville, Near
Boundaries: Lot H, Block S, Plan 7521052
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1
Landscape(s) or Landscape Feature(s): 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
2 (ptn.)
15 (ptn.)

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
52.159078 -114.201272 GPS NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 1976/05/18

Historical Information

Built: 1889 to 1889
Period of Significance: 1889 to 1927
Theme(s): Peopling the Land : Migration and Immigration
Historic Function(s): Food Supply : Farm or Ranch
Residence : Single Dwelling
Current Function(s): Leisure : Museum
Context: N/A

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0096
Designation File: DES 0311
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 14699
Website Link: https://stephanssonhouse.ca
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 311)
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