The Olson Family
of Gimli

The Olson family
has been a part of the Gimli community since the early settlement of New Iceland.

They have been among the most prominent of the fishing families who have worked on the lake for over a century.

Gottskálk Sigfússon &
Hólmfríður Jónatansdóttir

Páll (Paul) Kristinn Olson & Margrét Jónsdóttir Gíslason

Paul and Margaret Olson
page 1 | page 2




home | back to NIHM website
The Book Of Life
Alphabetical Story Index
Taken from the Icelandic Appeal website, circa 2000.
The Olson Family of Gimli

Gottskálk Sigfússon & Hólmfríður Jónatansdóttir

Gottskálk Sigfússon (b. July 19 1832) was the son of Sigfús Gottskálksson and Elín Brandsdóttir from Syðra-Kálfskinn in Eyjafjarðarsýsla. His parents separated when he was nine, after which he lived with his mother. He was put to work at a young age, first as a houseboy to Rev. Hakon Espolin, and later as a worker on the boats at Siglunes. When he was eighteen he began working as a hired man at Nesi in Hofðasveit and Lomatjörn. It is known that at some point after 1855 Gottskálk went to Denmark. However, he was in Iceland in 1861 when he married Júdit Ingibjörg Guðjónsdóttir. Little is known about Gottskálk until Oct. 13th 1869 when he remarried to Hólmfríður Jónatansdóttir. The church records state that Gottskálk’s previous marriage was annulled in 1863 due to his wife’s adultery.

Hólmfríður Jónatansdóttir (b. Aug. 13 1847) was the daughter of Jónatan Eiríksson and Guðrún Stefánsdóttir from Adaldalur. She worked as a chore girl and housemaid at parsonages until she married Gottskálk in 1868. The couple moved around fairly frequently between 1869 and 1876 when they immigrated to Canada. At the time of their departure they had three small children: Pálina, Guðríður Anna, and Guðrún Friðrikka.

The family arrived at Gimli in the New Iceland colony in 1876. They settled at Víðtanga on Willow Point where they spent their first winter in North America. They were touched by the smallpox epidemic that swept through the colony in the winter of 1876 when their infant son died. The sadness of this loss was tempered by the birth of another son, Páll (Paul) Kristinn on Jan. 30, 1878.

Soon after Páll was born the family decided to join a group of their neighbours headed south to settle around Cavalier in North Dakota. They took up farming in the Sandhills, and many of the group soon returned to the lake country. Gottskálk and Hólmfríður stayed for four years. Their son Tryggvi was likely born in North Dakota.

Afterwards they returned to Willow Point where they stayed for the next fourteen years. During that time, two more sons were born: Pétur Alexander, and Friðhólm (Fred).



At some point, Gottskálk Sigfússon and Hólmfríður Jónatansdóttir began to use the surname Olson. This became the surname of their children. Gottskálk passed away in 1909 and Hólmfríður in 1924, both at Gimli.

Pálina married Pjetur Magnusson of Gimli and had four children: Lára Magdalena, Franklin Bergthor, Ásta and Anna.

Guðríður Anna had one daughter, Mabel, with Pastor Guttormur Guttormsson. Mabel was later raised by Guðríður’s brother Paul and his wife Margrét.

Guðrún Friðrikka married William Herbert Bristow and had a large family of 13 children.

Páll (Paul) Kristinn Olson (please see the Paul Kristinn Olson Sr. & Margrét Jónsdóttir Gíslason story)

Tryggvi Olson died tragically in the fire that destroyed the steamship the Premier in 1908.

Pétur Alexander Olson served in the Canadian military during WWI. He was killed during the Battle of Amiens in 1916.

Fríðholm (Fred) Olson worked in Gimli as a fisherman for most of his life. He married Jónína Ólöf Johnson and had four children: Humphrey Leonard, Laura Sigridur, Peter Alexander, and Florence.

Olson FamilyThe Olson Family; Inset: Pall (Paul) Olson