(Jim) Peterson

Jim Peterson

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The Book Of Life
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Taken from the Icelandic Appeal website, circa 2000.
Peterson, Guðmundur (Jim)

By Helga Malis

Guðmundur’s father, Pétur Guðmundsson, was born in Húnavatnssýsla, Iceland on Aug. 15, 1866. His wife, Sigriður Þorsteinsdóttir, was born in Ragnárvallasýsla on Feb. 1, 1870. The family journeyed to Canada in 1900 and settled in Gimli. Pétur had been a fisherman in Iceland and shortly after his arrival started fishing on Lake Winnipeg. Pétur died in 1918, and Sigriður followed him in 1934. They had a family of four sons and three daughters. The sons were Guðmundur (Jim) (d. 1994), Sigurður (Sam) (d. 1991 m. Lauga Brandsson), Olifur (Oli) (d. 1931) and Halldór (m. Elizabeth Cook). The daughters were Olavia (Loa) (d. 1994, m. to John Hokanson), Mekkin (Mickey) (d. 1987, m. to Gus Ingimundson), and Victoria (d. 1993, m. to Jack King). The sons were fishermen who operated fishing stations at Black Bear and Spider Islands until 1969. They called their business the “Peterson Brothers”.

Jim began fishing as a teenager with his father. He and his brothers spent their summers on sailboat and winters on sleigh dogs. They used horses, tractors, and finally bombardiers. Jim worked on the lake for decades and well knew its hazards having lived through the grounding of the J.R. Spear on the angry lake.

Jim was born in Iceland in 1899. He was a great reader and especially loved poetry, even though he only had a grade five education. After his father died, he devoted himself to his mother and younger siblings. He would often reminisce about the “old days”, remembering that it was a big event when they got their first motor in 1928 and could put away the sails. Mundi acted as business manager of the company, doing the bookkeeping, purchasing, hiring, etc. He worked well with and respected the many native people he hired and they in turn respected him for his fairness. When doing bookkeeping or other math work, he preferred to think in Icelandic, as felt it was so much easier than in English.


Jim was a strong Lutheran and he loved going to church—he often visited churches when he traveled. He had a very happy retirement. He was active in the Gimli Rotary Club and helped publish and write the club’s newsletter.

Jim had one daughter, Helga, from his first marriage to Guðný Sólmundsson. He later married Rosebjörg Sigurdur. Helga attended Gimli High School and the University of Saskatchewan. She married Ronald Malis of Selkirk. They had 6 children: Denise (Shawn Lynch), daughter Mekkin Elin; Vivian (Garry Painter), daughters Sarah and Stephanie; Blair (Susan), children Emily and Michael; Maureen (Pieter Jungen), daughter Freya; John; and Marilyn (Gordon Cunningham), children Marshall, Oliver, and Elin.

Helga and Ron spent many years together and lived in several areas of Canada because of Ron’s work with Parks Canada. Moving around gave the family a broad vision of the country and perhaps influenced some of the children to settle far from the nest in such places as Boston, Berlin, Ottawa, and Nova Scotia.

Helga retired to Gimli in 1997, living on some of the very land that her afi Pétur Guðmundsson had purchased to raise his family on. Now the fourth generation, Pétur’s great great grandchildren, romp and play on the shores of the lake behind the house. Helga is heavily involved in Icelandic cultural organizations such as the INL, Icelandic Canadian Magazine, and Icelandic Festival etc. and is the Executive Secretary of the Icelandic National League of North America. Guðmundur would be very proud of the accomplishments of all his progeny.