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Canadian History for Kids: L'Anse aux Meadows

1975, June 27 – Pierre Trudeau opens L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Park at tip of Great Northern Peninsula.

This Canadian History for Kids exclusive looks at L’Anse aux Meadows.

On June 27, 1975, Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau cuts the ribbon and opens L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Park.

In the early 1960’s Helge Ingstad, a Norwegian archaeologist, and his wife, Anne Stine Ingstad, are searching for Norse landing spots when they come upon L’Anse aux Meadows at the northernmost point of Newfoundland with the help of Newfoundlander, George Decker. Mr. Decker leads them to overgrown bumps and ridges that he believes might be buried buildings.

Helge and Anne bring in archaeologist from as far away as Norway, Iceland and Sweden to help them excavate the site which they believe was settled by Leif Erickson well over 1,000 years earlier. The location had once been called Vineland.

They excavated the location from 1961 to 1968, finding the kind of artifacts previously only found in Iceland and Greenland. At one site, inside the cooking pit, they found a ring headed pin that was considered to be used by Norsemen to fasten their cloaks and in another site they found a stone oil lamp.

They found eight buildings and the remains of a ninth building. The building had walls and roofs made of sod and supported by wood frame and inside, long narrow fireplaces. The site included workshops for the iron smithy, carpenters, and for boat repairs. The iron smithy’s workshop contained a forge, wood debris was found in the carpenter’s workshop, and rivets were found in the boat repair workshop.

The location was also excavated again from 1973 to 1976 by Parks Canada. Since then it has been protected by Parks Canada.

In 1978 it was named a World Heritage site by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

It is considered one of the oldest Norse settlement in America, and the first presence of European explorers in the New World almost 500 years before Christopher Columbus. L’Anse aux Meadows attracts well over 30,000 visitors each year.

And that’s this week’s Canadian History for Kids, exclusive!

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