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Memorable Manitobans: Steinunn Jonasina Stefanson “Steina” Sommerville (1885-1963)

Educator, journalist, writer.

Born at Gimli on 17 May 1885, the daughter of Jonas Stefanson (1845-1911) and Steinunn Grimsdottir (1847-1929), and sister of Sigtryggur Jónasson, she became a school teacher and taught at Nordur Stjarna School, Haland School (1910), and John H. Gunn School (1912-1913). She was Women’s News Editor for the Manitoba Free Press and was involved in the women’s suffrage movement. On 29 April 1920, she married Andrew Neville Sommerville (?-1966) at Winnipeg and had one daughter, Ina Margaret Sommerville (?-1983). The couple moved to Munson, Alberta where they resided for a few years before returning to Winnipeg. She would go on to write for the Winnipeg Free Press and several Icelandic publications, as well as do translation work. She was the President (1934) of the Red River Club and served on the St. Vital rationing committee during the Second World War. On the 75th anniversary of New Iceland in 1950, she was crowned Fjallkona. She died at Winnipeg on 16 January 1963 and was buried in St. Vital Cemetery.

Her articles for the Manitoba Historical Society:

Early Icelandic Settlement in Canada
MHS Transactions, Series 3, 1944-45 season

New Iceland
Manitoba Pageant, Volume 9, Number 3, April 1964

Sources:

Birth, marriage, and death registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“Manitoba suffragettes,” Manitoba Morning Free Press, 5 March 1910, page 1.

“Sommerville - Stefanson,” Manitoba Free Press, 1 May 1920, page 14.

“Mrs. A.N. Sommerville is elected President at meeting of the Red River Club,” Winnipeg Free Press, 7 November 1933, page 5.

“St. Vital completes ration book plans,” Winnipeg Free Press, 12 February 1943, page 8.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 17 January 1963, page 24.

Obituary, Lögberg-Heimskringla, 14 February 1963, page 5.

Obituary [Andrew Neville Sommerville], Winnipeg Free Press, 10 February 1966, page 28.

Obituary [Ina Margaret Sommerville], Winnipeg Free Press, 28 February 1983, page 28.

Gimli Saga by the Gimli Women’s Institute, 1974.

This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 26 April 2014

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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