The Olson Family
of Gimli

Gottskálk Sigfússon &
Hólmfríður Jónatansdóttir

Páll (Paul) Kristinn Olson & Margrét Jónsdóttir Gíslason

Páll & Margrét Olson on their Wedding Day

Paul and Margaret Olson
page 1 | page 2

For more please see:
The Gimli Saga pp. 681-687. Jónas Thordarson, Vestur- Íslenzkar Æviskrár Vol. VI, pp. 255-259.





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The Book Of Life
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Taken from the Icelandic Appeal website, circa 2000.
The Olson Family of Gimli

Páll (Paul) Kristinn Olson &
Margrét Jónsdóttir Gíslason

Abridged and edited from “The Paul Olson Family” in the Gimli Saga (pp. 681-683)

Paul Kristinn Olson (b. Jan 30, 1878) was the son of New Iceland pioneers Gottskálk Sigfússon and Hólmfríður Jónatansdóttir. When Paul was an infant his family moved to Cavalier, North Dakota where they remained for four years before returning to Willow Point. Here Paul learned the arts of farming, fishing and hunting at a very early age. When Paul was fourteen he worked for a Scottish couple on a farm in North Dakota, and as an old man still remembered their kindness to him. Soon after this he went north for his first fishing season. During his lifetime fishing was his main occupational interest.

In the winter the fishermen used dog teams for hauling fish. Paul raised and trained many dogs. On a trip south from Warren’s Landing he raced with a team from the Hudson’s Bay Post at Norway House, outdistancing them all the way. The Bay men sought him out in Gimli and persuaded him to sell them his dog team. As a result he sold fourteen dogs in all to the Hudson’s Bay Co. Some of his dogs were sold to Sir Ernest Shackleton for his Antarctic expedition. Paul was always proud to say that Jack Dempsey became the owner of one of his dogs.

When Paul was a young man, he and his father bought land east of Winnipegosis, where they established a cattle ranch. It was there that Paul met and married Margrét Gíslason who came there with her family from Hecla Island.

She was the daughter of Jón Gíslason and Fridrikka Oddsdóttir, and was born March 3, 1885 at Brekkudal in Dýrafjörður, Ísafjarðarsýsla and came to this country in 1887. They had settled first at Arnes, then at Hecla Island, from where they went to Winnipegosis. Stable Island, near there, was renamed Maggie’s Island after her.

Paul and Margrét started their own ranch at Meadow Portage, on the fertile grassland between Lake Winnipegosis and Lake Manitoba. They sold their cattle during a period of ill health for Mr. Olson and slumping prices of livestock prior to the First World War. Their first two children were born there.

They returned to Gimli and resided there a few years before going to Hecla Island, where they spent three years on the southwest side, along with three other families. A flood, mosquitoes and a lack of school for the children forced them back to Gimli, where they bought a house on First Avenue in which they lived for the rest of their lives.

To Margrét and Paul were born ten children:Olga, Pauline, Edwin (who died at age seven months), Alma, Jona, Elin, Paul, Roy (who died at age twenty-seven), Tryggvi, and Margaret. They also had a foster daughter Mabel, who was Paul’s sister Anna’s daughter.

This is a short summary of the life of one Lake Winnipeg fisherman. It will be recalled that he became a fisherman at a very early age and spent most of his life fishing on the Lake he loved so well.


It is well known by all experienced fishermen on Lake Winnipeg that the mood can change very quickly from quiet waters to a raging storm that can sweep everything before it in a few hours. The lake is treacherous and dangerous unless you know it. Paul knew the lake and from it he made his living, and as a result was able to raise a large family. This gave him a deep satisfaction because the time he spent with them between fishing seasons was brief. They all remember him for his kindness and consideration towards them.

As a result of his vast experience on the lake, he was able to instruct his sons, as well as many other young men, about fishing and the hazards of the lake. Since he was away from Gimli for so much of the year, he could not involve himself to deeply in the affairs of the community. His community was the whole of Lake Winnipeg, with its joys, sorrows, dangers, and pleasures. To his wife, like most other fisherman’s wives, fell the responsibility of raising the children and looking after the home. Her home was her castle. The sons, who served in World War II, carry on the tradition of their father of honesty, hard work and hopeful enthusiasm for the fish business. Paul kept working on the lake until he was seventy-eight years old. He died at the age of 80 in 1958. Margrét lived to age eighty-eight, passing away in 1973.

Olga married Baldur N. Jonasson and had five children: Margaret Grace, Jonina Pauline, Norma Edith, Leon, and Gwen. Baldur passed away in 1947. In 1955 Olga married again to Arni Anderson of Arborg.

Pauline married Al Luty. They had three sons: Richard, David, and Stanley.

Edwin died at seven months.

Alma married Rev. Bjarni Bjarnason, son of Rev. and Mrs. Jóhann Bjarnason. They had two sons: Brian and Warren.

Jónina Fredrikka (Jona) married Lawrence Benson of Gimli. They had three sons: Lawrence Ralph, John Frederick, and Kenneth Roy.

Elin (Leo) married Eggert Bjarnason, brother of Rev. Bjarni. They had three daughters: Leona, Judy, and Patty.

Paul (see the Paul and Margaret Olson story)

Roy passed away in 1947 at Berry Island at the age of 26.

Tryggvi (Ted) worked as a fisherman on Lake Winnipeg. He married Allison Millar, a schoolteacher.

Margaret married Dr. W.A. McLachlan, a chiropractor in Selkirk. They have three children: Rhonda, Grant, and Lisa.

Paul and Margrét Olson’s foster daughter Mabel married Ray Akin of Claremore Oklahoma.