J.T. (Joey) Arnason

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The Book Of Life
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Taken from the Icelandic Appeal website, circa 2000.
Arnason, J.T. (Joey) & Elin (Diddy)

By J.T. (Joey) Arnason

My family’s history in this country began in 1885 when Jóhann Pétur Árnason, and his wife Dóróthea Soffia Abrahamsdóttir left their home at Syðri-Villingadalur in Eyjafjörður, Iceland and settled in the New Iceland colony.For the first three years they lived at Bolstaður with Jóhann Jónsson. Later, they moved to the farm Espihóll in the Minerva District. My father, Jóhann Vilhjalmur (W.J.) Jóhannsson Árnason, along with his sister Friðrika and brother Guðjón, grew up at Espihóll.

My father married Guðrún Björg Björnsdóttir Johnson, who was born at Egilsstaðir in Vopnafjörður, Iceland. My parents were very involved in the Gimli community. My mother donated a tremendous amount of time to the Lutheran Church. My father was a self taught accountant; he had excellent command of English and superb penmanship. He served on the schoolboard, the town council, and the Icelandic Celebration committee. He was also an accomplished carpenter and fisherman.

My parents lived at 72-6th Ave. where all of their children were brought up. Their children were: Valdimar, Olöf, Johann Theodore (Joey), Anna, John, Elin, Herman, Frederick, and Gordon. My father passed away in 1965 at the age of 79. My mother died Aug. 25, 1998 at the age of 109. At the time of her death she was the oldest living Icelander in the world. Of the original nine children of Vilhjalmur and Guðrún, there are six remaining. Olöf and John are deceased.



I was the third child, b. Mar. 15, 1921. I attended school in Gimli, and in 1938 began working in the fishing industry. I worked 7 days a week, from sun-up until dark, earning a very small income. The beginning of the war brought better job opportunities with the opening of the Airforce Training school in Gimli. Bird Construction pad fifty to seventy-five cents per hour!

In 1942, along with a group of local men, I volunteered my services to the Royal Canadian Navy VR. I served in Winnipeg on the HMCS Naden, Givinchy, Comox-Stadacona, and the HMCS Digby on convoy in the North Atlantic. I also volunteered for service in the Pacific (Far East).

While on leave in 1945, I married Elin Anderson. Her parents were Elis and Gavrose Anderson, and her grandfather was Captain Baldvin “Baldi” Anderson , pioneer, adventurer, and businessman. Elin and I settled in Gimli after spending a year on the McKenzie River aboard the MS Radium King, a tugboat barging oil from the oil fields at Norman Wells to Yellowknife.