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Memorable Manitobans: Ragnar Jonsson (c1899-1988)


Born in Sweden around 1899, he came to Canada in 1923, and after stints as a farm labourer, woodcutter and fisher, he began a sixty-year career as a trapper. In 1930, during the Great Depression, he once sold fur worth $2,500 after making only five trips around his trap line. With increasing human development, he was lured farther north, to Nueltin Lake, along the Manitoba-NWT border in 1938. For over forty years, he travelled huge areas to the north and east of the lake, largely living off the land. Once, he went for two years without speaking to another human being and he only left his trapping area around once a decade. Mail came to him once or twice a year, including back copies of news magazines. He was known for expressing strong opinions on virtually every world issue. In August 1982, he returned to Winnipeg after an absence of 59 years, to have a cataract removed. He died at The Pas on 25 June 1988. His ashes were spread over an island in Nueltin Lake that bears his name.


“North’s fabled trapper dies,” Winnipeg Free Press, 29 June 1988, page 2.

This page was prepared by Kris Keen and Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 20 July 2020

Memorable Manitobans

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