Leif Ericsson, Norse explorer of America (b at Iceland), son of ERIC THE RED
. He spent his youth in GREENLAND
and around 999 visited Norway, where, according to one source he was converted to Christianity and commissioned by King Olaf Tryggvason to carry the faith to Greenland. According to the Greenlanders in the collection known as the Vinland Sagas, he organized an expedition circa
AD 1000 to explore sections of the North American coast discovered by the Icelandic trader Bjarni HERJOLFSSON
15 years earlier. Establishing a base camp in the southernmost of these regions, he explored several areas, noting abundant resources. Of these, lumber and wild grapes were of the greatest interest, and he named the richest area "Vinland", Land of Wine.
Recent archaeological evidence has shown that Vinland was most likely the coastlines around the Gulf of St Lawrence. Leif is also mentioned in Erics Saga, but this version is generally considered distorted in favour of the Icelander Thorfinn Karlsefni. Leif succeeded his father as paramount chieftain of Greenland and was himself succeeded by his son Thorkell some time after 1018.
See also NORSE VOYAGES.
M. Magnusson and P. Pálsson, The Vinland Sagas, The Norse Discovery of America (1965); Gwyn Jones, The North Atlantic Saga (1986).
Links to Other Sites
Watch the Heritage Minute about evidence of Viking visits to Canadian territory from the Historica-Dominion Institute. See also related online learning resources.
L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site
The Parks Canada site for L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, the only authenticated Viking settlement in North America. Also includes information about historic Aboriginal settlements.