The Icelandic Festival of Manitoba (IFM) is pleased to announce the successful completion of The Viking Park Connectivity Project, which completes the two-phased 125 Legacy Project that began in 2014 with Viking Park.

Over the course of the seven-year campaign, the Viking Park Campaign Cabinet raised approximately $2.3 million. The cost of both Viking Park phases totalled close to $2 million. Additional monies were used for campaign costs, an irrigation system for Viking Park, special events during the IFM’s 125th celebrations and investment in the festival itself. Approximately $100,000 of the funds raised will be directed toward the IFM’s endowments.

“We worked with the community every step of the way and are proud to have created an authentic and magical Icelandic experience that is unlike any other park and infrastructure project in Canada," says Grant Stefanson, Co-chair of the Viking Park Campaign Cabinet. “We are pleased to gift the enhancements of these public areas to the community and the Municipality of Gimli has agreed to the ongoing stewardship of the new landscape.”

The IFM and the RM of Gimli partnered on the Connectivity Project which connects Viking Park to the main harbour area in Gimli, the Heart of New Iceland. These tree-lined pathways and sidewalks provide safer passage in a park-like setting, while wayfinding markers improve navigability for visitors

“A visit to the park will provide a diverse, accessible and memorable visitor experience to thousands of locals and tourists who come to see the Viking and view the inland sea every year,” says Kathi Thorarinson Neal, co-chair of the Viking Park campaign.

The projects involved extensive community consultations and project planning led by landscape architects, HTFC Planning & Design. Viking Park was created by Shelmerdine Garden Centre and the Connectivity Project by Minerva Tree Farms and Nursery. The festival is pleased to support possible future community development by providing foundational groundwork through obtaining land surveys and extensive design options to the harbour area at First Avenue and Centre Street.

The creation of the park was made possible through partnerships with R.M. of Gimli and Betel Home Foundation. A special thank you to the Richardson Family Foundation, the Arnason family and Ernest Stefanson and Claire Gillis for their belief in both phases of the project and their significant contributions. The IFM extends its deepest thanks to the Viking Park Campaign Cabinet, chaired by Grant Stefanson and Kathi Thorarinson Neal and members Ernest Stefanson, Tim Arnason, Arni Thorsteinson, Lorna Tergesen and J.Timothy Samson. The committee was ably supported by Kristine Sigurdson, the IFM’s Executive Director.

On August 9, 2017 the Government of Canada and Government of Manitoba announced that the Viking Park project was approved under the Small Communities Fund Program, with approved federal and provincial funds of $300,000 per share for the project. The Small Communities Fund program supports priority public infrastructure projects in communities with fewer than 100,000 residents across Canada. The Municipality of Gimli matched the contributions made by the provincial and federal governments with a $300,000 investment that was announced in 2019.

An official ground-breaking for the Connectivity Project will be planned for the summer. There are ongoing opportunities to recognize your family or bestow a dedication to a milestone in your life or the life of a loved one, on a plaque on the Timber Boardwalk, a Settlement Marker or a bench. All donations are eligible for a charitable tax receipt.

Both Viking Park and the Connectivity Project create storied canvasses for donors to mark meaningful moments in our lives. Many western Icelanders chose to celebrate their Icelandic legacy and the ongoing connections between Iceland and Manitoba, while others have taken the opportunity to honour family or to acknowledge their special relationship with the community. The Breakwater Timber Boardwalk, and special commemorative areas such as the rejuvenated Cenotaph and the creation of the Fjallkona Walkway express the unique culture and history of Gimli.

For information, please contact Kristine Sigurdson at the Icelandic Festival office in Gimli at 94 1st Ave. Telephone: 204-642-7417 or

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