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An item in the Today in History feature below on this page says “In 1496, King Henry VII of England granted a charter to John Cabot and his three sons, permitting them to claim any and all lands they might discover.”

That was the start of permanent settlement in this country ... following a short attempt by the Vikings to scratch a live here.

Imagine the lives our forefathers and foremothers were enduring in Europe to have the guts to set out for the New World with nothing much more than a desire for a better life.

Imagine the severe conditions they must have been fleeing when they would rather set out on a tiny wooden ship for weeks on end, heading who knows where, rather than put up with the oppression they lived under.

No wonder our great-grandparents were as tough and adaptable as they were.

They gave up all the knew — not matter how difficult — and stepped onto these shores with little or nothing except an abundance of grit and the ability to be self-reliant.

For the most part, they left the moderate climates of western Europe and came to face a gruelling climate that includes winters like the one we are constantly complaining about in 2014. Never mind 2014, just think what it would have been like in 1514 or 1614 clinging to the coast along the remote Northern Peninsula or the south coast with few possessions and no chance of help — except what your equally poor neighbours could provide.

They had little connection with the outside world: no health care, no government pensions and set off every morning in a tiny wooden boat bobbing in the icy ocean to feed their families.

The next time we get in a near panic after a warning about the possibility of “rolling blackouts” that might ruin our television viewing for a couple of hours — think about the sturdy stock many of us come from.

We have 500 years of putting up with, and overcoming, anything that’s handed to us.

Organizations: Vikings

Geographic location: Europe, England, Northern Peninsula

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