Memorable Manitobans: Jón Bjarnason (1845-1914)
Born in Iceland on 15 November 1845, he secured his BA and was ordained to the ministry there. He was married in Iceland in 1870 and later adopted three children, including Dora Hermann. He emigrated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1873 and taught briefly at a Norwegian theological college in Decorah, Iowa. Following this he was Assistant Editor of Scandinavian, a periodical published in Chicago, then Editor of Budsticken, a Norwegian paper published in Minneapolis. After receiving a call from the Icelandic colony on the shore of Lake Winnipeg in 1877, he moved north to work among his own people.
In 1880 Bjarnason returned to Iceland, but he returned to Winnipeg four years later, and assumed charge of the First Lutheran Church of Winnipeg, with which he was associated until the time of his death. He was responsible for the founding of the Icelandic Evangelical Lutheran Synod, the presidency of which he retained until 1910. In 1885 he founded Sameiningin, a religious monthly published by the Synod, and was Editor until his death. Files of this periodical may be found in the Legislative Library of Manitoba.
He was active in the formation of an Icelandic Academy in Winnipeg, which opened its doors in 1913 and was named the Jón Bjarnason Academy after his death. He died at his Winnipeg home, 118 Emily Street, on 3 June 1914.
Death registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
“Rev. Dr. Bjarnason ends life’s work,” Manitoba Free Press, 4 June 1914, page 9.
Pioneers and Early Citizens of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Manitoba Library Association, 1971.
Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
We thank Nelson Gerrard for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 23 August 2015