The Emigration from Iceland to North America
The Weekly Newsletter - Nr 18
September 7, 2003  Keeping in touch every single week! (almost)
 Icelandic surnames in Vesturheimur
You know what I mean by Vesturheimur? Actually it means "the western Hemisphere" and is used as the term for North America. The Icelandic emigrants went to Vesturheimur.
Well, many Icelandic emigrants in Vesturheimur took a new surname when they settled down, having problems with their Jˇnsson, Gu­mundsson, Ůorsteinsson etc. So they changed their names, often with the "help" of official authorities, to Johnson, Goodman, Thorsteinsson, Anderson for ┴rnason or AndrÚsson, Gillis for GÝslason, Olson for Ëlafsson, etc.


Others took the chance and changed their name radiacally and made up names which were derived from the name of their homefarm or name in their homeland's landscape. From hills and valleys, fjords and mountains in Iceland. So names like Hillman, Sanders, Wogen, Bardal, Laxdal, Vidal, Austfjord, Bradford, Crawford, Eyford, Sudfjord or Sedford, Vopnfjord, Vopni, Wopnford, Bildfell and Skaptfell, originate in one way or another in Iceland.
How? Well, Hillman from the farmname Hˇll (hˇll = hill) in Skagafjar­arsřsla (1), Sanders from the farmname Sandar in H˙navatnssřsla (2), Wogen from the farmname Vogar in Vopnafj÷r­ur region Ýn M˙lasřsla (3), Bardal from Bßr­ardalur in Ůingeyjarsřsla (dalur = valley) (4), Laxdal from Laxßrdalur in Dalasřsla (5), Vidal from VÝ­idalur in H˙navatnssřsla (2), Austfjord from Austfir­ir, meaning the fjords in East Iceland (6), Bradford from Brei­afj÷r­ur, West Iceland (7), Crawford from Krˇksfjar­arnes, West Iceland (7), Eyford from Eyjafjar­arsřsla in North Iceland (8), Sudfjord or Sedford from Su­urfir­ir in North-west Iceland (9), Vopnfjord, Vopni and Wopnford from Vopnafj÷r­ur-region in M˙lasřsla (3), Bildfell from the farmname BÝldsfell in ┴rnessřsla (10) and Skaptfell from Skaptafell in Skaptafellssřsla, South-east Iceland (11). Having said this, I have to mention also that most of the settlers kept their good old surname, ensisted on their Jˇnsson, Einarsson, Sigur­sson and of course Helgason

 First Icelandic Store in Winnipeg
The name of one Icelandic merchant appears in the business directory for Winnipeg in 1879, that of ┴rni (Fri­riksson) Frederickson, brother of Fri­jˇn Frederickson. Frederickson arrived in Toronto in 1873. Having suffered permanent injury from frozen feet, he did not seek work on the land, but obtained employment in a Toronto shoe factory. His wages were four dollars a week for the first year, and his room and board were to have cost that amount, but he was well liked at his lodging place and the charge was reduced to three dollars. In the second year his wages rose to six dollars, and then to eight, but then the factory failed.
Philatelic item
Click to see larger picture
I find it interesting to mention that while ┴rni stayed in Toronto in 1875, he received a letter from Iceland, which is now a top ranking item in the philatelic world, at least regarding items connected to the Icelandic postal history. The owner of the shown item could probably get at least about 35-40.000 USD for it by puting it on an auction. (But beeing one of million millioneers in US I don't think he bothers!)
┴rni Frederickson came to Winnipeg with the 1875 group. He remained in the city, and here the Toronto process was repeated. At first he worked for his board, and then for six dollars a month and then for eight.
In the spring of 1879, after a short stay in Gimli, Frederickson established a store and a shoe repair shop in Winnipeg, in rented quarters at 4031/2 Main Street, just north of the City Hall. This was the first Icelandic store in Winnipeg.
s.s. Victoria on Lake Winnipeg
There was little profit from the business, and Frederickson lived in a little room at the rear of the shop. Frederickson quickly earned the confidence of the dealers from whom he bought. Consequently, when his brother, Fri­jˇn, and Sigtryggur Jˇnasson desired to purchase two barges for their steamer ôVictoriaö, in 1879, he was able to raise a personal loan of some 200 to 300 dollars in aid of the enterprise.
┴rni Frederickson was not a robust man, but it is doubtfull if he was excelled by anyone in the Icelandic community in Winnipeg in industry, thrift, and self-denial. He performed many a community service which others had thought too great a burden.

Ref. mainly: The Icelandic people in Manitoba. W. Kristjanson, 1965.

 My Email
As you can probably imagine, I receive a lot of email. Dosens every day to my two regular private email addresses. And every day I start by deleting a huge bunch of "spam"-mail, most often offers of most different kind which is usually easy to recognize by just looking at the mail's subject line. To you I want to say: When sending me a line, please put in the subject line something relevant to your message to me. Not just "Hi!" or "Hello!" which is so typical for "spam". I might delete your message and I really don't want to do that!

The Fredericksons

┴rni Fri­riksson

┴rni Fri­riksson was one of nine children born to Fri­rik Jˇnsson (1826-1893) and ١rhildur Fri­riksdˇttir (1830-1868), farmers at N˙pur in Íxarfj÷r­ur, Thingeyjarsřsla-north. ┴rni and two of his brothers, Fri­jˇn and Olgeir, emigrated to Canada, ┴rni and Fri­jˇn in 1873 and Olgeir in 1879. ┴rni's wife was Sigurbj÷rg Ůorlßksdˇttir (1861-??). They did not have any children as far as I know. They lived in Vancouver, B.C. Fri­jˇn's wife was Gu­nř Sesselja Sigur­ardˇttir (1856-1948). They lived in Glenboro and later in Winnipeg. Their daughter was Aurora Johnson, wife to Thomas Hermann Johnson (1870-1927) minister of Justice in Manitoba. Their two sons were Kßri in Toronto, later in Vancouver and Harold in Vancouver. Olgeir Fri­riksson (1863-1938) was farmer in Glenboro. His wife was Vilborg Jˇnsdˇttir (1868-??). Their daughter was JˇnÝna, married to Bj÷rn Sigmundsson (1887-??) in Argyle, Manitoba.

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