Viking history arrives

An authentic replica of a landing craft used by Vikings to invade, conquer and pillage arrived in Red Deer on Wednesday.

Egan Sommer of Ponoka draws a crowd as he trims the sail on the Freydis Joanna outside the Norwegian Laft Hus in heritage Square Wednesday.

An authentic replica of a landing craft used by Vikings to invade, conquer and pillage arrived in Red Deer on Wednesday.

The Freydis Joanna, handcrafted using replica tools and ancient handcraft methods, will be on display today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Heritage Square, 4402-47th Ave, next to the Rec Centre.

“It’s built according to an old ship they found near Oslo, inside one of the big ones,” said Egon Sommer, of Ponoka, who donated the cost of the boat’s cross-Canada tour.

His mother Karen Joanna Sommer, of Ponoka, donated $40,000 from her estate to the Danish National Museum in Dickson, and the money helped pay the $70,000 to construct the boat in Denmark and its transportation to Canada.

Named in part after his mother, the boat has travelled 6,000 km on land since it left Halifax three and a half weeks ago and has attracted a lot of attention.

“People have dissected this boat inside out and upside down. I don’t think there’s one single board that isn’t on film. It’s been taken from all angles,” Sommer said at the Red Deer exhibition, hosted by Norwegian Laft Hus Society. “It’s unbelievable, how the people have come out for it.”

The piece of Scandinavian history will be put on display at the Dickson museum once the tour wraps up.

The replica of the four-oared boat, that dates back to 850 AD, was built last winter. It’s the third of its kind in Canada and the only one in Western Canada.

Launched on its maiden sail on April 1 in Roskilde, Denmark, the boat is made of Danish oak and fir and is 6.5 m in length and 1.4 m in width. While it isn’t as large or fierce as other Viking ships with a dragon head at the prow, Vikings likely brought it on their voyage to Newfoundland.

The Freydis Joanna will travel to Edmonton next and will return to Central Alberta on Tuesday (Aug. 18) when it will be at Sommer’s Home Hardware in Ponoka.

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