Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Wilhelm “Will” Kristjanson (1896-1979)

Educator, author, editor, community worker, veteran.

Born at Otto on 28 December 1896, son of Magnus Kristjanson (?-1944) and Margret Danielsdottir (?-1968), he attended Wesley College (now the University of Winnipeg), where he served as Editor of the journal Vox Wesleyana from 1923 to 1924 and graduated in 1924 with a history degree. He was also an avid athlete, winning medals in track and rowing. He attended Oxford University from 1925 to 1926 on a IODE Scholarship then graduated with an education degree from the University of Chicago (1927). He taught in Manitoba from 1924 to 1969, at Hodgson School and Baldur School in rural Manitoba and subsequently in Winnipeg. He was Principal of the Manitou Collegiate (1929-1937).

During the First World War, he enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1916 and was wounded at Vimy Ridge. He later joined the Royal Air Force. During the Second World War he served with the Reserve Forces and continued in in this capacity until 1954. He was a member of the Manitoba Historical Society, the National Club, the Royal Canadian legion, the Icelandic National League, the Manitoba Government Employees Association, the Schoolmasters’ Club, the Masons (Fort Osborne Lodge No. 144), and the Unitarian Church.

He was married twice, first on 18 August 1928 to Verda Viola Treble (?-?) in the RM of Louise. He later married widow Jonina Thorunn Kristjanson.

He has received the Coronation Medal (1953), Efficiency Decoration (ED) for military service, a Senior YMCA Fellowship Pin, Manitoba Historical Society Centennial Medal, Good Citizenship Award (1972), Pioneer Historian Award, and in 1972 an honorary doctorate from the University of Winnipeg. He wrote numerous newspaper articles and translations, and in 1976 was editor-in-chief of The Icelandic Canadian magazine. He wrote The Icelandic People in Manitoba: A Manitoba Saga (1990).

He died at Winnipeg on 30 March 1979 and was buried in the Brookside Cemetery. He is commemorated by the Wilhelm Kristjanson Memorial Scholarship at the University of Winnipeg.

His articles for the Manitoba Historical Society:

John Taylor and the Pioneer Icelandic Settlement in Manitoba and his Plea on Behalf of the Persecuted Jewish People
MHS Transactions, Series 3, Number 32, 1975-76 Season

Sources:

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

Marriage registration [Wilhelm Kristjanson, Verda Viola Treble], Manitoba Vital Statistics.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 2 April 1979.

Obituary, The Icelandic Canadian, Summer 1979.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 21 April 2022

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

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