Leslie Johann Paulson

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Taken from the Icelandic Appeal website, circa 2000.
Paulson, Leslie Johann

Leslie Johann Paulson was born in Winnipegosis MB on July 2, 1937, the youngest of six children born to Jóhann Hannibal (Joe) Bjarnason Paulson (b. Mar 20 1892 in Calgary AB) and Sigríður (Sarah) Björnsdóttir Crawford (b. Nov. 15 1894 at Big Point MB). Les’s paternal grandfather and great-grandfather were part of the original group of Icelandic settlers who landed at Willow Point, just south of the present town site of Gimli, on Oct. 21st 1875.

Páll Bjarnason (b. Sept., 1, 1833), son of Bjarni Pálsson and Guðrún Brynolfsdóttir, was at farmer at Kambsstaðir in Suður-Þingeyjarsýsla. On Aug. 20, 1857 he married Ragnheiður Halldórsdóttir (b. 1832). Páll and Ragnheiður had nine children: Bjarni, Halldór, Sigurður, Árni, Aðalbjörg, Pálína, Árni, Steinvör, and Stefán. In 1874 the family decided to leave Iceland for the promise of a better life in North America. Sadly, Ragnheiður did not make the trip; she died in Akureyri waiting to depart. Páll Bjarnason and the children left Iceland aboard the SS. St. Patrick on Sept. 4, 1874. They were accompanied by a domestic, Sigríður Jónsdóttir, and her daughter Gíslína Gisladóttir. Páll and Sigríður were later married in Canada.

After arriving at Quebec City the family proceeded to Kinmount in Ontario. The Icelandic immigrants withstood great hardships during their time at Kinmount, the family of Páll Bjarnason being no exception. Páll lost one of his children (likely Steinvör) during the period at Kinmount. In late summer 1875 they joined the Icelandic settlers journeying into the Northwest to establish the colony of New Iceland on the shores of Lake Winnipeg. Sigríður gave birth to one of the first children born in the colony, a baby girl name Steinvör, on Nov. 1, 1875. Páll subsequently homesteaded on Hecla Island and at Willow Creek before passing away in 1880.


Bjarni Pálsson (b. July 15, 1858) was already a teenager when he arrived from Iceland with his father and siblings. In 1886 he married Ólina Sigurbjörg Schaldemose (b. 22 Dec. 1865 at Nylendi in Skagafjörður). Ólina had come to Canada with her parents, Jóhann Hannibal Schaldemose and Kristín Gunnlaugsdóttir, in 1883. The couple lived in the Willow Creek district of New Iceland before moving toWinnipeg and then to Calgary around 1890. Bjarni died there two years later.

Bjarni and Ólina had three children: Páll (Paul), Bjarnheiður (Heida), and Jóhann (Joe). After her husband’s death Ólina retuned to Manitoba where she married Kristján Walterson with whom she had one son, Bjarni Schaldemose Walterson.

Jóhann (Joe) Hannibal Paulson (b. 20 Mar. 1892) was the youngest child born to Bjarni and Ólina Paulson. Around 1904 he and his brother Paul moved to Winnipegosis MB to fish with their uncles Jónas and Louie Schaldemose. In early 1916, Jóhann joined the Canadian Army. He served in France with the 223rd Scandinavians before returning to Canada in 1919. In 1920, Joe married Sigríður (Sarah) Crawford (b. 15 Nov. 1894), daughter of Big Point pioneers Björn Sigurðsson Crawford and Sigríður Petúrsdóttir who had come to Canada in 1891. Joe worked as fisherman at Winnipegosis until 1937. Like many fishermen he suffered severe financial setbacks as a result of the Great Depression. Later he worked on the dredge in the summer and on the docks whenever possible. Sarah Paulson passed away in 1952 and Joe followed her a year later.