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History of Canada
Explorers and Expeditions

Who is Leif Erickson and what country do the Viking legends state that he discovered?


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October 01, 2009 3:59AM

Leif Erickson was a Norse exployer (viking) that is considered to be the first to discovered the North America (now Canada and the United States) long before Christopher Columbus sailed to the West Indies. The first land he went to was covered with flat rocks (Old Norse hella). He therefore called it Helluland ("Land of the Flat Stones"). This was possibly Baffin Island. Next he came to a land that was flat and wooded, with white sandy beaches. He called this Markland ("Wood-land"), which is possibly Labrador. Leif and his crew left Markland and again found land, which they named Vinland. They landed and built a small settlement. They found the area pleasant as there were wild grapes and plenty of salmon in the river. The climate was mild, with little frost in the winter and green grass year-round. They remained in the region over the winter.

Research done in the 1950s and 1960s by explorer Helge Ingstad and his wife, archaeologist Anne Stine Ingstad, identified a Norse settlement located at the northern tip of Newfoundland, known as L'Anse aux Meadows, which has been connected to Leif's settlement.