Leif Eriksson was the second son of Erik the Red, the founder of the first European settlement on what is now Greenland. Eriksson was born in Iceland in the year 1000 A.D. He is considered to be the first European to reach North America.
Norwegian King Olaf I Tryggvason commissioned Eriksson to travel to Greenland from Norway in order to spread Christianity to settlers there. Eriksson made it to Greenland, however, according to historical accounts, his ship went off course on the route home. It is believed that Eriksson landed on what is now Nova Scotia. Eriksson called the new land Vinland, perhaps because of the wild grapes he and his crew saw growing there. Eriksson never colonized the area and he left at the end of winter and never returned. He concentrated his efforts on spreading Christianity throughout Greenland. His mother was one of his converts and she is known for having built Greenland's first Christian church at Brattahlid.
Leif Eriksson is generally regarded as the first European to set foot on the shores of North America, nearly five centuries before Christopher Columbus who arrived in 1492. Eriksson had a nickname of "Leif Eriksson the Lucky." While history accounts of his explorations may differ slightly, he is remembered for his discovery of what is now Nova Scotia and for his efforts to spread Christianity.