Historic Sites of Manitoba: Riverton Centennial Park (Riverton, Municipality of Bifrost-Riverton)
This park in Riverton contains several commemorative monuments. In 1875, the first group of Icelandic settlers in the Canadian west, bound for the mouth of the Whitemud River, were forced by circumstances to land at Willow Point, further south. There they founded Gimli but, the following year, upwards of 1,200 settlers located themselves along the west shore of Lake Winnipeg as far as Hecla Island. They renamed the Whitemud the Icelandic River. Besides Gimli, two towns were surveyed, one called Sandy Bar at the mouth of the Icelandic River and the other Lundi, later renamed Riverton. A plaque commemorating these settlers was erected by the Historic Sites Advisory Board of Manitoba.
An abstract monument commemorates the pioneers of the Riverton district, who arrived here between 1875 and 1900. It is a symmetrical structure with three intertwined shapes representing the past, the present, and the future.
A monument commemorates Guttormur Jónsson Guttormsson, considered the “Poet Laureate of New Iceland,” was unveiled 30 July 1994. Born on his parent’s farm near Riverton, he developed his uniquely Icelandic Canadian perspective and drew his inspiration from the surroundings. At the time of his death in 1966, he left a literary legacy comprising six volumes of poetry, a book of plays, and numerous other humorous and serious writings.
A monument honours the founders of Framfari (“Progress”), the first Icelandic language newspaper printed in North America. It was published in a log structure at Riverton from 10 September 1877 to 24 January 1880. The first editor was Sigtryggur Jonasson and the second editor was Halldor Briem. Other noteworthy founders were Johann Briem (journalist), Jonas Jonasson (printer), and Fridjon Fridriksson (promoter). A separate monument commemorates Sigtryggur Jonasson, founder of Framfari and the first Icelandic member of the Manitoba Legislature.
An outdoor wooden stage was presented to the community of Riverton in August 1976 by the family of Sigurdur Victor Sigurdson in his memory.
A restoration project of monuments in the park was undertaken in 2021.
Photos & Coordinates
We thank Doug Anderson for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 17 September 2022