Geir (Kristjánsson) &
Sesselja Rakel Sveinsdóttir

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For more on information on the migration experience of this family, please see the Dr. Sigridur (Sigga) Christianson Houston story.


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Taken from the Icelandic Appeal website, circa 2000.
Christianson, Geir (Kristjánsson) & Sesselja Rakel Sveinsdóttir

"The Early Years continued...

Long trips were necessary to get wood. Dad and brother Bill would get up at 5:00 AM and take their lunches in their pockets. They would travel twelve to sixteen miles by oxen. Many trips were made north between the lakes where there was smaller wood (aspen poplar). Other trips were made fifteen miles south into the Touchwood Hills, where they found some birch logs. They would chop wood and load it onto the sled. When they got back home, they sawed and chopped some more. Dad always had a big woodpile, one of our proudest possessions.

Our nearest neighbour, John, lived on the bank of the creek where we washed and got our water. He had built a small sod shack with a couple of small windows and a dirt floor. It was however, warm and cosy. Each time a new baby arrived there, Mama acted as midwife and stayed with them for a few days. I remember that Mama sent away for ten yards of white flannel. She made small shirts, a few bands, a couple of small dresses, and the rest were hemmed for napkins—hers was the only preparation of the wee thing.

One morning early in January we could see John come hurrying across the snow, and knew that Mama would be off. On that occasion John had already officiated at the birth at about 2:00 AM and he had wrapped the little mite in some kind of blanket. Mama snatched some breakfast gathered a few eggs and a pat of butter, rice and raisins. I am sure she took a loaf of her own good bread. After a few days Mama would gather up all the washing and bring it home.

The summer I was in the sixth grade, Baldur Olson taught at Sleipnir School, two miles straight east of our farm. Our school had no well, and on hot summer days our milk had soured by lunchtime.


In the seventh grade I was taught by Jonas Jonasson and in the eighth grade by Anna Hanneson.

There were many nice things about those pioneer days. The neighbourliness and the friendships formed I still cherish. I feel pride in my parents. Both came to Canada around 1890 without a penny in their pockets. There was no relief no help of nay kind. They had to work hard, and they had to learn a new language. Dad taught himself to read English.

Dad and his friends came steerage, then travelled from Halifax to Winnipeg in an immigrant train. He arrived in a homespun suit. He had a watch chain, though in later years he wore it on only dress occasions.

Mama had one homespun dress woven from the wool which was spun on the farm in Iceland (Starrastadir in Skagafjordi). She brought her spinning wheel, a feather down quilt, and Icelandic sheepskin slippers. She first worked at the Wincester Hotel in Pembina as kitchen help for five dollars a month and also worked on housework.

We were poor, certainly, but it was always descent poverty. Sigga, Babs, and I were always well-dressed girls because Mama was smart at whatever she did, especially dressmaking. I remember the exquisite little dress she made for me to wear at my first Christmas concert, complete with kid white slippers.

Mother died of pneumonia in 1915 and did not live to see Sigga become a medical doctor. She would have burst her buttons.