Memorable Manitobans: David Gislason (1941-2023)

Farmer, municipal official, community activist.

Born at Geysir on 22 December 1941, son of Joseph Gislason (?-1960) and Gudrun Gislason, he attended Island School, Arborg School, and Riverton School. He took over the family farm in 1963 and grew grains, oilseeds, and forage seeds until retirement in 2013. He pioneered the use of leafcutter bees for the pollination of alfalfa in Manitoba and was an early adopter of zero tillage practices. He was a founding member of the Manitoba Leafcutter Bee Association, Manitoba Forage Seed Association, and Canadian Alfalfa Seed Council, and a founding member of Northstar Seeds Inc, that became the foremost marketer of forage seeds in Manitoba. He chaired the Manitoba Farm Products Marketing Council, Agri-Food Research and Development Initiative, and co-chaired the Manitoba Agri-Food Development Council.

On 4 August 1962, he married Gladys Ethelwyn Fisher (1942-2012) and they had two daughters. On 12 September 2015, he married Judith Richardson. He was councillor and Reeve for the Rural Municipality of Bifrost (1986-1995). He chaired the Manitoba Farm Products Marketing Council and the Agri-Food Research and Development Initiative (2001-2008). Interested in Icelandic culture, he was chair of the Esjan Chapter of the Icelandic League of North America. Along with Neil Bardal, he was responsible for the establishment of the Iceland Consulate in Winnipeg and was considered the poet laureate of Icelandic Canadians. A collection of his poems entitled Fifth Dimension was published in 2010.

In recognition of his community service, he was inducted into the Order of Manitoba (2008) and Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame (2009), and he received a Knight’s Cross of the Icelandic Order of the Falcon (2000) and a Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal (2002). Twice he received an IODE Jon Sigurdsson Chapter Good Citizen Award. He and his family were the Red River Exhibition Farm Family of the Year (2000).

He died at Gimli on 21 April 2023.


Obituary [Gladys Ethelwyn Gislason], Winnipeg Free Press, 18 August 2012.

David Gislason, Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 20 May 2023.

We thank Bryan Bjerring for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 26 January 2022