Friðjón & Guðný (Sigurðardóttir) Friðriksson

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Taken from the Icelandic Appeal website, circa 2000.
Friðriksson, Friðjón & Guðný (Sigurðardóttir)

By Robert C.A. Frederickson

My great grandfather, Friðjón Friðriksson, was born at Hóll on the Melrakkasletta Peninsula in Iceland on August 21, 1849, the son of Friðrik Jónsson (1826-1893) from Snartarstaðir (son of Jón Jónsson and Valgerður Guðmundsdóttir of Núpur) and Þórhildur Friðriksdóttir (1830–1868, daughter of Friðrik Árnason of Núpur and Guðný Björnsdóttir).

Þórhildur passed away when Friðjón was 18 years old. Six years later, in June of 1873, Friðjón married his cousin Guðný Sigurðardóttir (1856-1949), shortly before they emigrated to North America.

Friðjón was one of the organizers of the first large group of emigrants who boarded the Queen at Akureyri in August of 1873 and made their way to the new world. Friðjón’s three brothers Árni, Friðbjörn and Olgeir also emigrated around that time, and his father followed shortly thereafter with his second wife, Sigriður Guðmundsdóttir. Friðjón and Guðný settled briefly at Rousseau in the Muskoka district of Ontario then moved on to Milwaukee.

Because of his facility with English, Friðjón obtained a position as a helper and translator to a Milwaukee doctor before securing a position as a store clerk in the spring of 1874. He and Guðný shared a home in Milwaukee with Ólafur Ólafsson from Espihóll. Before long they moved to Toronto where Friðjón worked in a shoe factory with his brother Árni and Baldvin L. Baldvinsson. In January of 1875 they moved to Kinmount, Ontario, where Friðjón operated a store for Sigtryggur Jónasson.

Friðjón and Guðný were members of the first pioneer group to land at Willow Point on Oct. 21, 1875 and establish Gimli about a mile from the landing point.


Friðjón acted as translator and right-hand man for John Taylor who was appointed by the government to lead the immigrants.

Friðjón built one of the first houses in Gimli, established the first business there, a general store, and was first postmaster in the colony. When the government of New Iceland was elected, Friðjón became Vice-Governor and later Governor of the colony.

When Framfari was launched in 1877 as the first Icelandic newspaper in the colony, Friðjón was one of the chief promoters and supporters and a member of the Board together with Sigtryggur Jónasson and Jóhann Briem.

Together with Sigtryggur he established the Jónasson-Friðriksson Company which was instrumental in supporting the New Iceland colony as long as it lasted.

In the spring of 1881 Friðjón and Guðný moved to Möðruvellir, the Jónasson homestead on the Icelandic River, where they lived while Friðjón managed the new saw mill for the duration of its operation. In the fall of 1884 they left Icelandic River, and after 2 years in Winnipeg and Selkirk, they settled at Glenboro, the principal town of the Argyle settlement in Southern Manitoba. There Friðjón established a General Store which he operated as a successful merchant and outstanding citizen for 20 years before retiring to Winnipeg in the fall of 1906.

Friðjón died of colon cancer on August 13, 1913 and Guðný remained in Winnipeg until she passed away 36 years later at the age of 92.