Dr. Ken & Lorna Thorlakson

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Taken from the Icelandic Appeal website, circa 2000.
Thorlakson, Dr. Ken & Lorna

My father, Dr. Paul Henrik Thorbjörn Thorlakson was born at Park River, North Dakota on October 5, 1895 and grew up in Selkirk, Manitoba. He married Gladys Maree Henry of Killarney, Manitoba on November 10, 1920 in Calgary. They had twin sons Kenneth and Robert (1923), and a daughter Tannis (1926). On returning from postgraduate studies in London, England, Paul entered surgical practice in Winnipeg. Later, he co-founded the Maclean-Thorlakson clinic, renamed the Winnipeg Clinic in 1938. In the 1940s he proposed the creation of the Manitoba Medical Centre (now known as the Health Sciences Centre), and was organizer and chairman of the corporation which promoted this project. He served as the president of several organizations including the National Cancer Institute of Canada. He organized and was the first president of the International Congress of Group Medicine, and the Manitoba Institute for the Advancement of Medical Education and Research (now the Dr. Paul H.T. Thorlakson Foundation Fund at the University of Manitoba). He served as chairman of other organizations including the campaign committee to establish the Chair of Icelandic Language and Literature at the University of Manitoba, the Board of Directors of the Betel Home (Selkirk and Gimli), the Editorial Board of Lögberg-Heimskringla, and the Canadian (Icelandic) Centennial Committee (1967). Dr. Thorlakson served three terms as Chancellor of the University of Winnipeg (1969-1978). He was named a Knight (1939) and Commander (1951) of the Icelandic Order of the Falcon, and was invested as a Companion of the Order of Canada (1971). On his fifth visit to Iceland (1974) he was the official representative of the Government of Canada to the celebrations marking the 1100th anniversary of the settlement of Iceland. Honourary degrees were bestowed on Dr. Thorlakson from the Universities of Manitoba (1952), Iceland (1961), Brandon (1970), and Winnipeg (1979). He died in Winnipeg on October 19, 1989 at age 94.

For more, please see: Benjamín Kristjánsson, Vestur-Íslenzkar Æviskrár, Vol. II, pp. 330-332, Vol. III, pp. 344-371; T.A.J Cunnings, The Saga of Dr. Thor (1986); George J. Houser, Pioneer Icelandic Pastor (1986)


The writer, Dr. Thorbjörn Kenneth Thorlakson, was born in Winnipeg on Nov. 27, 1923—a twin brother of Dr. Robert Henry Thorlakson. Our sister, Tannis Maree (Richardson), was born in Winnipeg on July 14, 1926. I entered the faculty of Medicine at the University of Manitoba in 1943, interrupting my studies to join the Royal Canadian Navy with subsequent North Atlantic convoy duty during World War II. Graduation in 1949 was followed one year later by postgraduate surgical training in Britain where I obtained a fellowship in the Royal College of Surgeons. Joining the Winnipeg Clinic in 1956, I began my practice in General Surgery at Winnipeg General Hospital (now the Health Sciences Centre) and later at Victoria General Hospital where now, no longer doing operative surgery, I am on the consulting staff at both hospitals. I have served as President of the Canadian Association of Clinical Surgeons (Western Division) and the Manitoba Chapter of the American College of Surgeons. During my active practise years I had a special interest and activity of surgery of the breast, gastrointestinal tract, and morbid obesity. I am an Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Manitoba. My academic activity has included a longstanding interest and involvement in undergraduate teaching at the University of Manitoba. At present, I serve as Chair of Medical Advisory Committee of the Betel Home Foundation, and as Chair of the V.I.P. (Valuing the Icelandic Presence) Millennium Campaign at the University of Manitoba. I was installed as a Knight of the Icelandic Order of the Falcon by the President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, in Winnipeg on August 2, 2000, during the President’s State visit to Canada. I visited Iceland in 1974 in company of my father, mother, and wife Lorna, and again in 1999 in the company of Dr. Raymond Currie, Dean of Arts, and Carolynne Pressor, Director of Libraries, The University of Manitoba. On August 11, 1950, I married Lorna Marian Olson, daughter of Dr. Jóhannes O. Olson, and Mrs. Guðrún Ingiríður (Thompson) Olson. We have had four children: Carla (1951-1995), Patricia Anne (1955) married to Michael Loewen with a daughter Ashleigh Rhyll (1989), Derek Paul (1959) married to Katherine Lind, Ian Johannes (1966) married to Kristi Hubbard with a son, Bennett Thorbjörn (1996) and a daughter, Elsabeth Lorel (2000).