Memorable Manitobans: Jon Jonsson Bildfell (1870-1955)
Real estate developer, editor.
Born at Bildfelli, Arnessyslu, Iceland on 1 May 1870, son of Jon Ogmundsson (1832-1925) and Thjodbjorg Ingimundardottir, he came to Canada with his father and brothers in 1887 and settled on a farm near Churchbridge, Northwest Territories [now Saskatchewan]. He worked on the farm in the summer and attended high school in Winnipeg during the winter. He taught at Markland School during the summers of 1896 to 1898. In 1898, he went to the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush, remaining there for three years then returning to Winnipeg in 1901. He worked in the real estate business and built several apartment blocks.
He served as Editor of the Icelandic weekly newspaper Logberg (1917-1927), Manager of Columbia Press, and was Vice-President of the Jon B’Jornson Academy. In 1930 he organized a visit to Iceland by Canadians and American of Icelandic descent, in commemoration of the 1,000 year celebrations. He studied the eider duck and eider down conservation in Baffin Land, on behalf of the federal government, from 1939 to 1940.
On 7 April 1903, he married Adalbjorg Soffia Thorstonsdottir (?-1966) and they had three children: Hrefna Bildfell (1903-1973, wife of John Edward McRae), Jon Adalsteinn Bildfell (1905-1977), and Sylvia Jakobina Bildfell (1907-?, wife of H. T. Hough). In 1925, the family lived at 142 Lyle Street.
He died at Winnipeg on 17 August 1955 and was buried in the Brookside Cemetery.
Some of his construction works in Manitoba included:
Birth and marriage registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
Pioneers and Prominent People of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Canadian Publicity Company, 1925.
“Mr. and Mrs. J. J. Bildfell,” Winnipeg Free Press, 16 April 1953, page 21.
“Joined Gold Rush to the Klondike, J. J. Bildfell, dies,” Winnipeg Free Press, 18 August 1955, page 43.
Obituary [Adalbjorg Soffia Bildfell], Winnipeg Free Press, 31 May 1966, page 29.
“Early Icelandic builders in Winnipeg” by S. Aleck Thorarinson, Logberg-Heimskringla, 30 March 1967, page 7.
Obituary [Hrefna McRae], Winnipeg Free Press, 30 July 1973, page 14.
Obituary [Jon A. Bildfell], Winnipeg Free Press, 17 December 1977, page 203.
Wagons to Wings: History of Lundar and Districts, 1872-1980 by Lundar and District Historical Society, c1980.
We thank Nelson Gerrard for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 1 June 2022