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Historic Sites of Manitoba: Fagriskogur House (Riverton, Municipality of Bifrost-Riverton)

The historic Fagriskogur (Fair Wood / Beautiful Wood) House was originally located east of Riverton at SW22-23-4E overlooking the marshland on the north side of the Sandy Bar road in the Municipality of Bifrost-Riverton. The oldest part of this house, constructed of hewn logs by pioneer Olafur Oddsson, dates from 1887 and is almost certainly a reconstruction of a previous house built in 1877 (where Olafur used the same logs crafted by Jon Jonsson from Brenniborg). Jon, who left the settlement for the Dakota Territory around 1880, named his homestead Mikligarour and built near the west side of this area. Some years after taking over his claim, Olafur Oddsson (1848-1927) and his wife Kristbjorg Antoniusardottir renamed the house Fagriskogur and moved it further east to have better access to the hay meadows. As the logs used to build Jon's original house were less than ten years old, they were used when Olafur rebuilt in 1887. This house therefore incorporates one of the very oldest log structures still intact from New Iceland's earliest days.

Fagriskogur remained in the Oddsson family for six generations from at least 1887 to 1962. After Olafur's death, the house was taken over by his daughter and son-in-law, poet Baldvin Halldorsson, where it became known as the Halldorsson House. Their son Baldvin Baldwinson and his wife Helga Jonason from Engimyri were the last to live in it full time. The house was then bought by Wally Bjarnason of Winnipeg to use as a hunting lodge, and later Roy Johnson moved it to Balaton Beach to use as a cottage. In 2017, the Icelandic River Heritage Sites (IRHS) organization acquired Fagriskogur and moved it just north of the Engimyri House.

As of 2020 the IRHS has been restoring this important heritage site. The original hewn log walls (the oldest part of the house), visible only through an under-stair closet, will be revealed again when the 1960s panelling is stripped away in the parlour. The exterior of the house will be returned to its early appearance (it was modified after 1900) when the siding is removed and custom-made old-style windows replace the modern windows, reverting to the original openings in the log and frame walls. The recent reshingling of the roof is the latest restoration, following lowering the house onto a sturdy new concrete foundation, dealing with missing beams and unsupported floors, constructing custom skirting, shoring up a rotten kitchen wall, and redoing the sagging kitchen roof.

Fagriskogur House

Fagriskogur House (May 2020)
Source: Rose Kuzina

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N51.00069, W96.98961
denoted by symbol on the map above

Sources:

Icelandic River Heritage Sites, Facebook.

This page was prepared by Rose Kuzina.

Page revised: 24 May 2021

Historic Sites of Manitoba

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