Celts and Vikings

Western Canada has become a hotbed of Celtc Culture in recent years, and it is there – in the heart of Calgary – that you will find The Celts and Vikings Store, one of the most colourful and unique sources of Celtic ware in North America. Recently we spoke with owner Laurie-Lee Mills about her business.

What is your own background/ethnic heritage?
Mostly Scottish, Irish and Norse.

What inspired you to start the business?
I started out on a search to find out about my ancestors and their beliefs and we had a lot of people inspired by 1st Nations beliefs and other more earthy pre- or non-Christian and found that the Celts and Vikings peoples were parallel and have a fascinating nature culture as well as heartaches and brutality from chased off their land to robbing them of their practices, to starvation and their migration to Canada and the USA and so on.

What are the challenges of the profession?
I guess for me it was trying to find suppliers as I wanted a store that was unique than the modern Scottish or irish shoppe, I wanted to take you back in time and there was no store that had everything in one place. From costume to weapons to their medieval feasts so I made it happen.

What are the rewards?
Pride in my heritage and seeing the twinkle in someones eye when they catch the Celtic calling as well.

What is the company’s core mandate?
I guess I would have to say that “We strive to make a centre where our differences are embraced and individuality is celebrated as part of the whole. We are dedicated to creating a safe community that helps connect people to their ancestors, giving a sense pride in their history, and thus bringing with it the skills and opportunities needed to build a world where all feel safe thus they can empower others to make a brave new world, healing one person at a time.

What are your key products?
Medieval to Modern day Celtic and Viking inspired clothing, weapons, shields, kilts and armour, as well as Northern European inspired Gothic and Steampunk costumes clothing and jewelry, electric music glow in the dark clothing.

What is your marketplace?
We cater to all persons of all ages who ancestry comes from Northern Europe, SCA groups, movie and theatre industry, LARPers as well as the subcultures of nightlife like Goth, Gogo Dancers and glow in the dark clothing and Steampunkers.

How do you differ from your competition?
The experience – We host workshops in ancient beliefs, the Bards we bring in to sing and recite on our event page, and we can help you create the most unique theme events for your small office party to the wedding of your dreams because everything is in one place.

Are we doing enough to preserve & promote Celtic culture generally?
I do think we have some work to do as we are losing some of the languages in the more remote areas as the elders grow older. We have uncovered some great new strides in understanding finds, from digs and ancient sites, thanks to Time Team and other great BBC episodes and documentaries. Another great stride has been Mr Sykes in the DNA testing and to a fantastic 2005 documentary called First Canadians.

What can we be doing better?
There are 150 or more books just sitting there waiting for somebody to start the daunting task of translating them. To make people aware that their was a whole other belief system prior to Celtic Christianity and that Early Celtic Christianity was completely different than Roman influence at one time.

What’s next on the company agenda?
Moving to a physical location where we have room for creating a cultural centre and bigger workshops.