Solberg Einar & Shirley Sigurdson

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The Book Of Life
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Taken from the Icelandic Appeal website, circa 2000.
Sigurdson, Solberg Einar & Shirley

by Solli Sigurdson

My afi, Sigurður Erlendsson, left Iceland as a successful farmer at Storulaugar and Klumbrun in Þingeyarsýsla. He left Iceland so that his children would have some prospect of a better life. My amma, his wife Þórunn, had lived her childhood and adult years in Iceland as a working woman who moved from farm to farm at the mercy of those who showed her kindness. In Canada she fell ill as the rigors of pioneer life were too much for her. My afi, Einar Guðmundsson, spend most of his life in Iceland as a working man with no prospect of owning a farm. He only acquired one when farms were vacated by emigrants leaving for the New World. My amma, his wife Margrét, brought up (as a second class member) in the household of her father, found herself unmarried at thirty years of age with a child and moved to Canada to be closer to her mother. She lived a full happy life and saw her family of six all settle in the New Iceland district. Although my afi, Einar, did not prosper as a farmer, he said at least, they had never starved in Canada as they often had in Iceland.

I, Solli, am the third child of Stefan and Runa Sigurdson who lived as prominent citizens of Riverton. I knew from an early age that I would go to university. I have just retired after 32 years as a professor of Education at the University of Alberta, Edmonton. My wife, Shirley (see below), born at Husavík, Manitoba and I have two sons, Grant Thorstein and Ryan Stefan, who are firmly entrenched in a musical tradition. Music comes from Shirley’s afi Oli Thorsteinson and from Þórunn through my father and me. Grant is finding his way in the field of Medicine and Ryan continues as a free spirit enjoying his musical inheritance. Our hope is that they enjoy a life that fulfills the fondest hope of their great grandparents who struggled so to seek a more fulfilling life themselves.


Part II: Shirley’s Family

My family’s story is similar to many others: poverty, tragedy, hard work, and hope for a better life in Canada than that which they left behind in Iceland.

My maternal grandmother, Emmy Agusta Anderson’s (b. Aug 15, 1883), parents came to Canada between 1876 and 1881, and first homesteaded at Árnastaðir in the Arnes district, then moved to Sand River on the east side of Lake Winnipeg where Emmy was born in 1883. Árni Andrésson was from Bægistaðir in Öxnadalur, and her mother Sigriður Albina Árnadóttir was from Skógar in Kelduhverfi. The family moved to Poplar Park in 1889.

My maternal grandfather Sveinbjörn Vigfusson Holm (b. at Ytri-Hlíð in Vopnafjörður, 1874), whose first wife, Björg Benediktsdóttir, was Árni’s niece, came to Canada in 1903. Sveinbjörn and Björg ran dairy farms on the edge of Winnipeg until Björg died in 1910. Sveinbjörn moved to Poplar Park and married Emmy in 1912. My mother Björgveig was born there in 1913. In 1921 the family moved again to Husavik establishing another dairy farm called Skínandi. After her parents’ early deaths in 1935 and 1936, my mother and her next eldest brother Arnor ran the farm with the help of younger brothers Julius and Andres. A year after Arnor married, my mother married my dad, Edward Thorsteinson, and, in 1937, moved to Hólmur, also in Husavik.