Valdi & Gilla Sop


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The Book Of Life
Alphabetical Story Index
Taken from the Icelandic Appeal website, circa 2000.
Sopher, Valdi & Gilla

Adapted from the Icelandic River Saga
pp. 370-71, 635-636, 815

Valdimar Sopher, a resident of Riverton for many years, was born on the nearby farm of Finnsstaðir on Feb. 28, 1906. His mother was Jónína Svanborg Thorláksdóttir, known as Svana Schram. Jónína, who was borna at Dalir in Iceland, came to Canada with her parents Thorlákur Schram and Katrín Jónsdóttir in 1889, arriving at Icelandic River in the early 1890s.

Valdi was adopted at an early age by Marshall and Halldóra (Thórarinsdóttir) Sopher, formerly of NW of 31-23-4E just northwest of Icelandic River P.O., he then spent his youth in the townsite on the east side of the river, where his parents established a boarding house and livery service around the time of the railway’s arrival in 1914. In 1919, however, Valdi’s mother died and when the boarding house burned not long afterward he and his father went to Nipawin, Saskatchewan to stay with an uncle, Jim Sopher, who had also recently lost his wife.

A few years later, when Valdi was 17 or 18, he returned to Riverton to work at Howards Mill, while his father remained in Saskatchewan, and for a number of years he stayed at Halldorssons’, whose home was on the east side. He also worked seasonally out on the lake, and while at Berens River one winter he met his future wife, Gilla, who was cooking there for Sigurðson Fisheries.

Originally from the Framnes district west of Arborg, she was born Gíslína Guðrún Gíslason on April 18, 1911, the daughter of Magnús and Ástríður Gíslason of Framnes. Fostered by an uncle and aunt, Bergur and Pálína Hornfjörð, she had left home to work at the age of 15, and during the summers she was employed by S.V. Sigurðson of Riverton.

Following their marriage in Winnipeg on August 18, 1932, Valdi and Gilla took up residence in a small house on the north edge of Riverton, which was later enlarged, and there they raised their growing family. Valdi had begun working for Sigurðson Fisheries when Howards’ Mill burnt in 1930, and he remained with Sigurðsons for a total of 20 years. He was always active in his younger years, and when not working out on the lake he enjoyed the occasional game of curling or baseball.

Gilla devoted her time to caring for the home and family, including her elderly father-in-law who returned from Saskatchewan around 1935, and she therefore had little opportunity for outside activities.


Gilla’s father Magnús Gíslason was born on the west side of Hecla Island, the son of were Gísli Árnason and Dýrunn Steinsdóttir who came from the Skagafjörður area of Iceland in 1883. Gilla’s mother, Ástríður (Ásta) Einarsdóttir, was the daughter of Einar Stefánsson and Lovísa Benediktsdóttir from Árnanes in Skaftafellsýsla, who came to Canada in 1904.

In 1950 Valdi moved to the family to Selkirk where he secured employment with the Rolling Mills, and he continued in this work until illness forced him to retire some years before death on October 11, 1976. Gilla passed away on May 6, 1994. Valdi and Gilla had seven children.

Walter Marshall Sopher, born at Riverton on January 14, 1933, now lives in Edmonton with his second wife Julie, children 1. Mark, 2. Scott, 3. Michael, 4. Lisa, 5. Steven, 6. Michelle, 7. Robert.

Pauline Magnúsína, born April 24, 1935, married Thedore Gotowski of Winnipeg and had seven children: 1. Theodore Claude (d) 2. Charlotte, 3. Terry, 4. Dale 5. Stefan, 6. Jerri-Lynn, and 7. Jodie.

Halldora Mae, born in Riverton on May, 1937, is married to Wilfred Helgason of Arnes and has three children: 1. David, 2. Donna, 3. Jona

Wilbert Malcolm Sopher, born February 4, 1939, married Pat Berry and lives in Winnipeg, one child 1. Debra

Esther Sigurjóna, born in Riverton on February 20 1942, now lives in Brandon with her second husband Ken, two children: 1. Brenda Colleen and 2. Leah

Stefán Lloyd Sopher, born May 15 1944, married Marquise Conaton of Flint, Michigan and lives in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, two children: 1. Brent and 2. Cory.

Colleen Ramona, born in Selkirk on September 4, 1952, is married to Paul Chopek of Balmertown, Ontario, three children: 1. Jason, 2. Jamie, and 3. Jeremy.

Sopher Family