Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Soffanius Thorkelsson (1876-1964)

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Soffanius Thorkelsson
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Businessman, inventor.

Born in Iceland on 5 April 1876, in 1898 he came to Winnipeg where he worked as a merchant. In 1919, he and two sons founded a business to manufacture wooden boxes and crates. It grew to become the largest of its kind in western Canada. In the 1930s, he used wood wastes from his factory to invent a form of insulation that was installed in hundreds of Winnipeg homes. He contributed financially to literary publications and to the reforestation of Iceland. He retired from business in 1940. He moved to Victoria, British Columbia in 1947 and he died there on 30 May 1964. He was survived by five children.


1901 Canada census [Zofonias Thorkelson], Automated Genealogy.

“Winnipeg manufacturer inventor of wood wool insulation for houses,” Winnipeg Free Press, 4 August 1934, page 64.

Henderson’s Winnipeg and Brandon Directories, Peel’s Prairie Provinces, University of Alberta Libraries.

“Thank birthday Winnipeg,” Winnipeg Free Press, 28 May 1949, page 67.

Death registration, British Columbia Vital Statistics.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 2 June 1964, page 23.

We thank Jim Anderson for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 6 May 2015

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