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Memorable Manitobans: John Stephen Matthiasson (1936-2001)


Born at Randolph, Wisconsin on 21 December 1936, he came to Winnipeg at an early age where he received a BA degree in Sociology and Philosophy from United College (now University of Winnipeg), an MA in Sociology and Anthropology from Michigan State University, and a PhD in Cultural Anthropology at Cornell University. He taught at Marquette University, the University of Saskatchewan, and in Baden Baden, Germany, and finally a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Manitoba until retirement in 1997.

An authority of the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic, he spent 13 months in 1963 to 1964 living and hunting with the Inuit people on Baffin Island. He was one of the last scientists to record traditional Inuit society before the transition to settlements. He wrote the book Living on the Land: Culture Change Among the Inuit of Baffin Island. He also wrote over a hundred scholarly articles and publications, and sat on the editorial boards of several scholarly journals. He also conducted extensive field work among the Canadian First Nations. The latter part of his research career was devoted to studying Icelandic culture in Canada. He was active in the Icelandic-Canadian community, including editing The Icelandic Canadian, and serving as a board member of the New Iceland Heritage Museum in Gimli.

He died at Gimli on 16 June 2001 and was buried in Brookside Cemetery.


Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 20 June 2001.

“We will not forget them,” Winnipeg Free Press, 31 December 2001, page B3.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 10 October 2016

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

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