L’Ance aux Meadows — With the recent archeological revelation that Vikings landed in Newfoundland much earlier than history had indicated, there has been much debate about changing the province’s name to reflect their Norseman heritage. A recent study of the UNESCO World Heritage Site located in remote northern Newfoundland has effectively rewritten the history books, proving conclusively that the legendary Viking settlement was constructed nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the New World.
Not only does this confirm the theory that the Norsemen were the first Europeans to ever set foot on North American soil, but we now have a firm date of 1021 AD. Departing from Greenland, the expedition was led by the famed Viking Leif Eriksson, who is believed to be the architect of the Newfoundland settlement.
Originally discovered in 1960, new analysis of the L’Ance aux Meadows archeological site has reignited scientific interest. Using the date of a solar storm known to have occurred roughly 25 years prior to Viking landfall in conjunction with radiocarbon dating, scientists are now confident that the lumber used in construction of the various buildings was felled in 1021 AD, making the site precisely 1,000 years old. Though many have found irony in the fact that Newfoundland, the last province to join Canadian confederation, is now confirmed to be the oldest European site on the continent, others have begun dreaming up ways to honour the 1,000-year anniversary. One controversial proposal, which was subject to a heavy wave of initial backlash, has now garnered traction within the provincial government.
The pitch: Canada’s newest province, affectionately nicknamed “The Rock,” will henceforth be referred to as New Vinland.
Upon discovery, Leif Eriksson dubbed the new found land Vinland, meaning “land of wine,” due to the abundance of wild grapes said to have been found there a millennium ago. Though not much else is known about the Vikings’ brief time in the New World, oral tradition later recorded in a series of Viking Sagas describes hostilities with Native people, whom they called Skraelings, which ultimately drove the Nordic invaders back to Greenland.
Arguing in favour of the name change, researcher and historian Kurt Cousins, who is credited with coining the term, said:
“The moniker Newfoundland is more of a title than a proper name, as if it was originally intended to be changed at a later date. Newly-found-land. It’s almost like someone accidentally put the island’s description in the spot where they ought to have put its name, and then no one ever corrected it.”
Cousins originally proposed removing the spaces from the name, opting for the spelling Newvinland instead, to honour the province’s current spelling. A survey was taken, though the results have not yet come in. Despite an initial wave of backlash against a provincial name change, not nearly as much resistance has been met as was expected.
“Most Newfies that I pitched the idea to had such thick accents that they couldn’t really tell the difference between the two names,” said Cousins. “Newfoundland, New Vinland, they sound virtually identical when spoken aloud, especially if you’ve been drinking.”
When asked about the inevitable confusion it would cause nationwide, Cousins simply stated:
“Listen, most Canadians from Ontario and over think that Quebec is as far east as the country goes. A handful may have heard the term ‘Atlantic Canada’ before, but none of them could name any of the provinces that make it up.”
The name change is proposed to take effect on June Day (Discovery Day), 2022, which is celebrated on the Monday nearest June 24. Following the coattails of Atlantic Canada’s most popular province, some New Brunswickers have begun campaigning to change their own province’s name in a similar fashion, opting for Norse Brunswick, but the idea has been swiftly dismissed by Premier Blaine Higgs.
“If we ever do rename the province,” Higgs said, “then it’s going to be called Irvingland. If you don’t like that, then be happy with what you’ve got.”