Isfeld Family
of Winnipeg Beach

Ólafur (Oli) and Helga

Ólafur (Oli) and Helga Isfeld
Ólafur (Oli) and Helga Isfeld

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Taken from the Icelandic Appeal website, circa 2000.
Isfeld, Ólafur (Oli) and Helga

Ólafur (Oli) Kristinn Pálsson Ísfeld was the eldest of 14 children born to Páll Eiríksson Ísfeld and Anna Guðrún Pálsdóttir. Oli was born at Kolableikseyri in Mjóafjörður on October 16, 1888. He immigrated to Canada, at age 5 with his parents and brother Eiríkur in 1893 and grew up on their homestead at Skógur in the Husavik district.

Oli started working on the lake at the young age of 12 to help support his family; first as a “Cook” in a fish camp. Eventually he bought his own fishing outfit of nets, boats, and fished in both the north and the south basins of Lake Winnipeg. It wasn’t long before he had his own crew of men working for him. Being the eldest, he was instrumental in getting his brothers started in the fishing industry.

Oli married Helga Ingebjörg Arnason from Skínandi on Sept. 1, 1920. Helga was born on October 11, 1902 to Alexander Anderson and his wife Óddný Kristjánsdóttir. Alexander’s brother Bjarni Árnason and his wife Ingebjörg Björnsdóttir had five children (3 daughters and 2 sons). One child died in Iceland, one died en route to Canada and the other 3 died in Gimli during the first fall they were in Canada. Alexander and Óddný allowed Helga (one of their twin daughters) to be raised by his brother and his wife.

Shortly after they were married, Helga, who did not come from a fishing family, had her first awakening to the realities and hardships of the fishing life. With no experience, she moved with Oli to Humbug Bay, a remote fishing camp. Once there, a hastily made tar paper shack was constructed to live in and Helga proceeded to be the “cook” for Oli and his hired men. While the men were away all day, Helga would hear the moose crashing through the bush and wolves howling outside the campsite. In spite of these hardships, she quickly adapted to Oli’s way of life.

Their first home was located at Bakki on the lakeshore east of Hof in Husavik. On October 5, 1923, their home was burnt to the ground. They lost everything they owned; including Oli’s nets and fishing gear. Helga had been in Winnipeg with their two children and when she and Oli returned home from the railway station, the house was engulfed in flames. nothing could be saved. Several of the neighbours rallied round taking up a collection; donating food and clothing. They then moved to various locations before settling at 84 Park Ave., Wpg. Beach.


Oli and Helga had 10 children – 5 boys and 5 girls

1. Morris Alexander (Alex) (b. May 12, 1921 at Gimli-died by accidental drowning in Holland on Nov. 25, 1945)

2. Sigurjón Baldur (John). Winnipeg, MB (b. Oct. 13, 1922 at Gimli MB). Married Audrey Walker and they have 3 children; 1 son and 2 daughters.

3. Aurora Borealis, Surrey, BC (b. Jan. 24, 1924 in Selkirk MB). Married Oliver Chalmers (deceased) and they have two children; 1 son and 1 daughter.

4. Fjola Violet Helga, Winnipeg, MB. (b. Oct. 30, 1925 at Gimli MB). Married James Tennant (deceased) and they have 3 children; 2 sons and 1 daughter.

5. Hilda Ingebjorg (deceased), Cloverdale, MB. (b. Nov. 20, 1926 at Gimli MB). Married Roy Harriott (deceased). They have 1 son.

6. Anna Undina, Gimli, MB. (b. July 24, 1928 at Gimli MB). Married Ronald Russell; 1 daughter and 2 sons.

7. Paul, Winnipeg Beach MB. (b. Nov. 9, 1929 at Wpg. Beach). Married Olan Narfason. They have 3 children; 2 daughters and 1 son.

8. Laura Barbara, Anoka, MN (b. May 3, 1931 at Winnipeg Beach). Married Ronald Martin; they have 7 children; 6 daughters and 1 son.

9. Oliver Kristinn, Winnipeg, MB (b. Aug. 6, 1932 at Winnipeg Beach). Married Eleanor Yeardye; one daughter.

10. Edward John, RM of Gimli, MB (b. December 9, 1938 at Winnipeg Beach). Married Heather Wood; 2 children; 1 daughter and 1 son.