The Narfason Family of "Víðivöllum"

By Dilla Narfason

For over one hundred years now, Narfasons have lived at “Víðivöllum,” the farm at Section 1, Township 19, Range 3 East in the Rural Municipality of Gimli. Magnús Narfason and his wife Emerentiana Jónsdóttir moved there from Gimli in 1895, making it their permanent home.

Elli and Runa Narfason

Mundi Narfason

James and Gerdur Harris

Joseph and Emma Wilkinson

Oil Narfason

Dilla Narfason

James R. & Alda Mackenzie

Paul and Olan Isfeld

In 1997, the Narfason family celebrated a hundred years of continuous ownership of “Vidivollum” by the Narfasons. A plaque was received from the Manitoba Historical Society, as well as a Century farm plaque award from the Provincial Department of Agriculture. All the family was able to attend this celebration except Candace Savage, daughter of Oli Narfason, whose family resides in Australia.

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Taken from the Icelandic Appeal website, circa 2000.
Narfason, Family of "Víðivöllum"

Elli and Runa Narfason

Magnús and Emerentiana emigrated from Iceland in 1886. Magnús came from Traðarkot in Vatnsleysuströnd in Gullbringusýsla and Emerentíana had come from Skammadal in Myrdal in Skaftafellssýsla. Emerentíana and Magnús had five sons, Guðjón, Þórður, Guðmundur Narfi (Mundi), Guðjón Erlendur (Elli) and Oskar. Mundi and Elli were the only sons who survived to adulthood. Emerentíana died on Mar. 30, 1912 at the age of 57. Mundi and Elli worked with their father on what was then a mixed farm. The operation soon became focussed on dairy farming, and they began selling fluid milk to Winnipeg in 1915. Mundi and Elli took over the farm enterprise when their father Magnús died on Apr. 1, 1931 at the age of 78. The operation subsequently became known as “Narfason Brothers”.

Elli was born on Sept. 17 1896 and was 15 years old when his mother died. He took on many of the household duties and certainly was capable of cooking a meal in later years. In 1918 he was drafted into the army and sent over to England before WWI came to an end. He wrote letters from Chyngton Camp, Seaford, England and signed one as #3347119 Pte. G.E. Narfason, 81st draft, 11th Reserve, Canadian Army.

Upon returning from overseas in 1919 Elli married Guðrún (Runa) Jökulrós Ísfeld (b. July 12, 1893), who came from “Hofi” in the Husavik District. Runa’s mother was Ólína Sigurbjörg Óladóttir Bjerring, born at Nes, Adalreykjadalur, Þingeyjarsýsla. She came to New Iceland with her mother and the rest of her family in 1888. Runa’s father was Ágúst Eiríksson Ísfeld who had emigrated from Fjarðarkot, Mjóafjörður, Norður-Múlasýsla with his mother and stepfather and younger siblings to Akra, North Dakota in 1886. Ágúst moved to New Iceland in 1888, married Ólina and they settled on the farm “Steinkirkja” farm which they renamed “Hofi”. Runa and Elli had six children, Gerdur Hansína (Garry), Emma Magnúsína, Óli Óskar Jóhannes, Sigurlína Ágústa (Dilla), Alda Ingibjörg and Ólöf Anna (Olan), all born on the farm in the same log house as their father before them.

Runa was the second eldest of 13 children. She grew up in pioneer times when children helped with all the work on the farm, including the making of hay by hand. Walking was the mode of travel and we heard about the trails through the bush that went from farm to farm. We were especially fascinated by the story of Mom and her brother Eric taking fish to the Palmassons at “Vídarasi” and meeting a bear on the path. When she was older Mom and her sisters worked at some of the concession stands at Winnipeg Beach. They always walked the railroad track to get there.


Later she worked as a “domestic” in Winnipeg at homes on Lenore, Tefler and Chesnut, as well as Wellington Crescent. There she learned many housekeeping skills which in turn she taught to her daughters. She kept a spotless orderly home and swept a floor from both the right and the left side. She was a good cook and ready to try new recipes like the one for homemade ice-cream she put into a 10lb Rogers Golden Syrup pail and set outside in the snow to freeze. She knew all the Icelandic folklore stories for children and would tell us those about “Smyrbitur and Gullintani,” “Bukolla” “Syngdu Syngdu Svanur Minn” and others while she mended garments by hand or on the sewing machine. She took part in community affairs and belonged to Minerva Ladies Aid. She encouraged us to work outside the home and emphasized secondary education that would support an independent lifestyle. She was ahead of her time with this thinking for her children. The home was always open to visitors and she was also keen to travel. Though serious in nature she also had her moments of humour.

Elli was a person who could tell us about all the changes that had taken place on the farm from the time of the oxen right up to the time of the aeroplane. Elli enjoyed reading and during the winter months he would read aloud from a book or the Lögberg newspaper to Mom and Mundi. Mom would be baking and Mundi usually mending something. Dad could recite many poems both in Icelandic and English. When asked how he managed to have such a repertoire of poems, he said that he made a point of committing them to memory while working on the fields. Dad was a member of the Young Peoples’ Club of Minerva and with this group took part in plays which they put on for entertainment. Dad was also the one who did the trips to town for such reasons as taking the milk cans to the train when it was his turn, and to get groceries and the mail. He was in Gimli late in the day when the gas street lamps were to be lit for the first time. There was a delay so he started off home and on the Colonization road near “Vígri” he turned to see the sky light up over Gimli with the nicest glow that was quite a sight to see. Dad loved children and was always willing to take us with him on short trips or play “kick the can” or such whenever he had the time. He would come on the caboose to take us home from school if it was storming and gave a ride to kids that lived past our place. He was a people person.