Björn & Hilda (nee Holm) Sigurdson

Björn & Hilda Sigurdson's
wedding picture

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Taken from the Icelandic Appeal website, circa 2000.
Sigurdson, Björn & Hilda (nee Holm)

By Irene Thorbjorg (Sigurdson) Chanin

Björn (Barney) Sigurdson, eldest son of Sigurður Sigurðsson and Jarngerður Eiríksdóttir, was born November 20, 1896 in the home of his uncle, Stefán Eiríkson. Barney was brought up at Boundary Park and at the homestead of his parents, Fensalir. He attended Kjarna school in Husavik, through the fourth grade. After that time, he was needed to work on the farm and wherever else he could get work in order to feed the family.

Barney first went to work in Winnipeg Beach at the age of twelve, as a messenger boy for the telephone company. At the age of thirteen he went out as a cook for fishermen at the mouth of the Red River. After that year, he worked at home for his father.

During World War I, Barney served overseas with the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders Regiment and fought in the trenches in France where he was wounded in the leg and sent back to England to recuperate.

After the war, he moved with his parents to Poplar Park, worked on their farm and sometimes hired out to work at harvest time in other parts of Manitoba.

It was at Poplar Park that he first met Hilda Holm, who had been born in Winnipeg, April 12, 1907, the third of four children of Sveinbjörn Vigfusson Holm and his first wife, Björg Benediktsdóttir. Hilda was only three years old when her mother died. She continued living with her father after her mother’s death and remained part of the household of Sveinbjörn and Emmy after they married.

Hilda attended school in Poplar Park through Grade 8. Then she joined the family in Husavik, where they had moved a year earlier, in 1922. In 1923 Hilda went to Winnipeg to attend Success Business College. Upon graduation she took a job as a comptometer operator in the office of the Ogilvie Flour Mills, where she worked for four years before her marriage.


Hilda Holm and Barney Sigurdson were married August 27, 1927 in Winnipeg. After their marriage, they lived for a year at Poplar park and then at the home of Hilda’s parents in Husavik, before moving to Bergsstaðir in the Minerva district, in 1931. At that time they had three daughters: Irene Thorbjorg (1928), Ellen Shirley (1929), and Alice Evangeline (1931), an infant at the time of the move. Four more children were born to Hilda and Barney: Raymond Lawrence (1932), Sveinbjorn Gilbert (1936), Sylvia Olof (1939) and John David (1950).

Barney and Hilda had been able to buy the farm Bergsstaðir from the Soldier Settlement Board. The farm was located to the east of what is now Highway 8, but was then only a trail. Several other families had lived at Bergsstaðir before Barney and Hilda. It had received its name in 1891, from Jón Sigurðsson who lived there with his family for ten years. The owner just previous to Barney and Hilda was Kristján Kernested. The Sigurdsons brought with them twelve head of cattle (milking cows) and ten ewe sheep. They soon acquired horses for pulling the farm implements. Fifteen acres of land had been broken but had grown up again. There was a small house, 16’ x 18’ main room with two lean-tos which had been built by Kristján Kernested. There was also a two-story log house, the original house on the farm, which had been built by Jón Sigurðsson. It was used for many years as a chicken house. There was also an implement shed, a pump house and an old barn.

It was a daunting task for Barney, during the 1930s to clear land with an axe, pulling out stumps and stones, look after, feed and milk cows twice daily and, grow crops (wheat, barley and oats). Hilda generally looked after the large vegetable garden and canned and preserved food. She also looked after the chickens. The daily care of many children, cooking, baking, washing clothes and feeding the family several times a day meant a lot of hard work.