Hecla, Manitoba, originally an Icelandic fishing community on Lake WINNIPEG's largest island by the same name, it is now within HECLA PROVINCIAL PARK about 170 km north of Winnipeg. Hecla is joined to the mainland by a causeway.
Icelandic immigrants opened homesteads on the island beginning 1876. Isolated for many years, they built a self-sufficient community based mainly on fishing for food and export, but including farming, lumbering, lake transport, trapping and quarrying. In 1896 Winnipeggers began building cottages at Gull Harbour. Roads, electricity and a ferry service came only after WWII.
After WWII, the fishery also began to decline and young islanders moved to opportunities elsewhere. A development board came up with a proposal to establish a park and restore the community. Negotiations did not go smoothly as land expropriation caused some controversy, but the park was established in 1969.
The park has helped to revitalize the community by providing some employment and restoring buildings, now part of an interpretive trail.
See also ICELANDERS.