Errand Boy in the Mooseland Hills


184 pages
ISBN 0-88780-541-8
DDC C839.683




Reviewed by Koos A. de Beer

Koos A. de Beer is an ESL instructor in Vancouver, B.C.


Translated from Icelandic, the nine short stories in this collection
take place in the late 1800s near Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. The author,
who moved from Iceland to Nova Scotia as a young man, sets out to share
the experiences of early settlers. Each story relates the tale of an
individual Mjarnason encountered through the various jobs he held. The
characters—almost all of whom are Icelanders—include a man who
builds a boat in order to get back to Iceland; a young woman whose life
changes when an unknown Icelander dies in her care; a young farm worker
who repays a debt by harvesting fields in secret; a man who quits his
job because the boss tests his honesty; a laborer who saves his boss’s
son; a young man who is wrongly accused of a crime; and a man who
kidnaps a doctor in order to save his wife’s life. These finely
translated tales give us a wonderful insight into the early experiences
of Icelanders in Canada.


Mjarnason, Johann Magnus., “Errand Boy in the Mooseland Hills,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 13, 2024,