Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Gísli Ólafsson [Olafson] (1855-1909)

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Gísli Ólafsson
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Produce merchant.

Born at Thingeyjarsysla, Iceland on 1 June 1855, son of Ólafur Ólafsson and Rannveig Sveinbjarnardóttir, he attended the Modruvellir School in northern Iceland and studied agricultural techniques in Scotland, acting as an advisor to Icelandic farmers prior to his emigration to Canada in 1886. After working on farms in Manitoba and Dakota Territory for three years, he moved to Winnipeg in September 1889 and started a flour, feed, grain, and produce business, eventually employing 18 people and occupying the three-storey Olafson Building at the corner of King and James streets. In 1890, he married Elín Sigrídur Jonsdottir (1857-1934) of Iceland and they had a daughter, Alpha Ólafsson (1895-1970, wife of Dr. Herbert John Scott). He was a member of the Winnipeg Board of Trade, Winnipeg Grain and Produce Exchange, and Independent Order of Foresters. He died at Winnipeg on 8 August 1909 and was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery.

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Olafsson House (539 William Avenue, Winnipeg)


A History of Manitoba: Its Resources and People by Prof. George Bryce, Toronto: The Canadian History Company, 1906.

Marriage and death registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“Found dead in his room,” Winnipeg Tribune, 10 August 1909, page 4.

Obituary, Winnipeg Tribune, 11 August 1909, page 5.

Obituary [Elin J. Olafson], Winnipeg Tribune, 1 March 1934, page 8.

Obituary [Alpha Scott], Winnipeg Free Press, 8 December 1970, page 34.

We thank Nelson Gerrard for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 9 February 2020

Memorable Manitobans

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