Manitoba Heritage Council Commemorative Plaques

Sigtryggur Jonasson (1852-1942)

Sigtryggur Jonasson (1852-1942)
(Courtesy of the Archives of Manitoba)
Installed 1983
Gimli Town Park
4th Street N and 4th Avenue

Born at Baki, Iceland, this publisher and entrepreneur became a prominent leader in the Canadian Icelandic community. As immigration agent he brought from Iceland more than a thousand people driven from their homeland by a volcanic eruption. They settled in 1876 on the west shore of Lake Winnipeg. Homesteading near Riverton, he was instrumental in establishing the unique laws and constitution of the Republic of New Iceland.

In 1877 he founded Framfari, the first Icelandic newspaper on this continent. This was supported by the community of fishermen and farmers in spite of severe economic hardship and a smallpox epidemic. He also founded Lögberg in Winnipeg. These newspapers contributed greatly to the survival in North America of Icelandic language and literature.

Jonasson became a M.L.A. in 1896, the first elected Icelandic-Canadian legislator. In 1930 he was chosen to represent Canada at the millennium of Iceland's Parliament.