Lilja Olafson Family


Mr. and Mrs. Thordarson
with Lilja

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Taken from the Icelandic Appeal website, circa 2000.
Olafson, Lilja

I was born Guðfinna Lilja Thordarson in Gimli MB on June 20, 1910. My twin, Thorbjörg, and I were the youngest daughters of Bergthór and Kristjana Thordarson.

My father, Bergthór (1866-1940), was the son of Bergþóra Bergþórsdóttir and Þórður Guðmundsson of Anabrekka in Mýrasýsla, Iceland. Bergthór emigrated to Hecla MB in 1884 where he became a pioneer settler. His mother and her second husband, Sigurður Sigurðsson, followed three years later with their family.

My mother, Kristjana (1870-1955), daughter of pioneer Sigurður Erlendsson and Guðrún Eiríksdóttir of Þingeyarsýsla, Iceland, arrived in Hecla when she was 6 years of age. My mother vividly remembered the voyage and would regale us children with stories of the adventure.

Kristjana and Bergthór were married in 1894 in Selkirk MB. They farmed in Hecla until 1902 when they moved to a homestead in Lundar, MB. In 1908 my family moved to Gimli where I was born.

Bergthór was a community-minded man with progressive ideas. He served as a Councillor in Hecla, a School Trustee in Lundar, and as Mayor of Gimli from 1916-1920.

Kristjana was the first woman elected to the Gimli School Board. Her brother, Jóhannes Sigurdson, was Gimli's first mayor. Kristjana was active in the Suffragette movement and was President of the Gimli Suffrage Association in 1916 where she was instrumental in achieving the women's right to vote in Manitoba.



For many years my mother sold her home baking in the confectionery store of Hannes Kristjanson. Her grandaughter Kristjana Stefanson still remembers the treats Amma gave her on her way home from school.

Our home still stands in Gimli, although it has been moved off its original lot on First Avenue to one on Highway #9.

I had three sisters and one brother.

My oldest sister Guðrún (1891-1979) married Magnus Arnason. They had four daughters, Bara, Lara, Eileen and Margaret and two sons, Stefan and Kristjan.

Thórður (1895-1971), my brother, married Guðrún Benson of Gimli. They had two daughters, Kristjana and Lara. "Doddi" as he was called, was a well known fisherman in Gimli. He was also Gimli's policeman from 1933-1939. He was caretaker of the the skating rink for many years.

My sister Lara Bergthóra (1898-1975) taught school in Gimli before marrying Ingiberg Sigurdson of Arnes. Following his tragic death in 1934 Lara retrained as a medical secretary and worked for Dr. Goodwin in the Manitoba Clinic until her retirement in 1970. She was active in many Icelandic groups in Winnipeg, the First Lutheran Church and the Icelandic Canadian Club. She was proud to serve as Fjallkona in 1935 for the Icelandic Festival.

My twin, Thorbjörg, died three months after her birth.