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Memorable Manitobans: Jonas Thorlaksson Jonasson (1890-1978)


Born at Sydri-Neslond, Myvatnssveit, Iceland on 3 February 1890, youngest of seven children born to Thorlakur Jonasson (1849-1928) and Kristrun Jonasson (1845-?), brother of Bjorn Thorlaksson Jonasson, he immigrated to Canada with his family in 1893. They resided initially at Argyle before moving on to Dafoe, Saskatchewan. He returned to Manitoba and graduated in 1912 as a silver medalist from Wesley College. He taught school before becoming Principal of Alexandra School at Brandon (1914-1916).

In March 1916, he enlisted for military service and went overseas with the 108th Battalion but returned in 1917 due to an incurable eye disease that eventually lead to blindness. He was discharged with the rank of Lieutenant and resumed service as a Principal at The Pas School and Dauphin. He was forced to retire early on account of worsening vision. An attempt to pursue farming was likewise ended by his poor eyesight. In 1929, he moved to Winnipeg and, six years later, began working for the Correspondence Branch of the Manitoba Department of Education. He served there for 21 years and developed a Social Studies course.

In 1958, he moved to the Betel Home at Gimli where he resided for his final 20 years. Despite being completely blind due to inoperable cataracts, he remained active with the Betel Home community and, in 1961, he visited Iceland with his brother Bjorn. He was a charter member and first President (1943-1945) of the Viking Club of Winnipeg, as well as a member of the National Icelandic League and the Icelandic Lutheran Church.

He died at Gimli on 15 February 1978 and was buried in Betel Cemetery.


1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.

Death registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

Attestation papers, Canadian Expeditionary Force, Library and Archives Canada.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 17 February 1978, page 34.

Winnipeg Estate file PR79-01-00065, Jonas Thorlakson Jonasson, Archives of Manitoba.

This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 15 January 2016

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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