Vikings!

Were you aware that the first European settlers and explorers of North America were not the French, English, Spanish, Dutch, or Basque, but were actually the Norse? Already some 500 years before Christopher Columbus discovered South America, the Vikings had built a settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows in 1000 A.D. (present-day Newfoundland)

The Norse (Norwegians/Scandinavians) were primarily interested in fishing, whaling, sealing, and getting valuable commodities such as furs, ivory walrus tusks, and Narwhal horn. Internal controversy among the Norse and external attacks from natives seems to have been the major factors in them abandoning the settlement.

You can read more about the settlement here. 

And if you’re ever on the east coast be sure to visit L’Anse aux Meadows. It’s certainly a place I want to visit one of these years. 

Kind of disappointingly, because the Viking settlement was so short-lived, it plays little to no importance in Canadian history. However, it is super important when considering European history. An interesting question for the budding historian to pursue would be: Why were the Norse so interested in exploration (and able to explore without getting hopelessly lost), while the rest of Europe was content to stay at home? What social, political, and possibly even religious factors contributed to Norse exploration?