The Icelanders

It wasn’t just the French relatives; the Icelanders were there in Winnipeg as well. We were of course surrounded by them when we lived at the old sandstone, but we seemed to continue to habituate among  them in the north end of Winnipeg when ever we lived in that city. The person at the core of the Icelandic family was our Amma, Bjarney Kristin Kristmundsdóttir, (aka Kristine) our grandmother. She was mother of eight surviving children and grandmother to many. She came to Canada in May 1924 on the S.S. Mont Laurier with her husband, our Afi, Magnus (aka Mike), their daughter, Margret Sigurbjorg Magnusdottir, our Great Grandmother, Steinunn Sigurðardóttir, our Great Grandfather Jon Jonsson, and a couple other relatives. Amma was 7 years older than our Afi, and Steinunn, our Langamma was 14 years older than her husband Jon, our Langafi. You can see by the photo that Kristine (Amma) looks like a young woman and Magnus (Afi) looks like a teenager. That is because that was what they were back then.

Kristine, Margret & Magnus

They were destined to Jon’s brother Gunnar in Selkirk, who had already immigrated. The plan was to settle among the Icelandic communities in the Inter lakes region, between Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba and fish commercially, as they had done in Iceland.

A year to the day after they set sail from Iceland Jon Adelsteinn Magnusson (aka Allan) was born in Canada, their new home. A brother for Margret. But as often happened, more so in those days than now, Allan fell prey to a childhood illness and died a month before his third birthday.

Jon Adelsteinn Magnusson

More than 30 years later, when I was 5 or 6, my Amma took me to visit Allan’s grave. I remember her sad and forlorn while she spoke of him as if he was still alive somewhere, but she couldn’t find him.

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