Memorable Manitobans: Jon Jonnson Vopni (1864-1956)
Born in Iceland on 4 September 1864, he immigrated to Canada in 1887 and worked for a time on construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway east of Winnipeg. He then worked as a builder in Winnipeg, where he was responsible for construction of many of the city’s first apartment blocks and numerous houses. He supervised the construction of all railway buildings between Winnipeg and Redditt, Ontario. At Gimli, he built the pier and was involved in building and selling cottages. He was in the real estate business until 1920 when he founded Art Press Limited.
On 27 October 1893, he married Sigurborg Magnusdotter (1877-1957) at Winnipeg and they had eleven children: Aurora Vopni (1895-1993, wife of Harold Edward Ross), Anna Vopni (1897-1920, wife of Paul Bardal), John Arnthor Vopni (1898-1972), Magnus Bjorgvin “Bud” Vopni (1900-1989), Edward Vopni (1902-1992), Wilfred Herman Vopni (1904-1996), Rakel Margret Vopni (1906-1996, wife of Samuel R. Lloyd), Augusta Vopni (1909-1995, wife of James Alexander Clark), Wilfred Haldor “Bill” Vopni, Richard Leon Vopni (1913-1941), and Helen Jona Sigurborg Vopni (1915-2001). He served as a Winnipeg city alderman (1917-1918), a member of the Board of Governors for Winnipeg General Hospital (22 years), and was President of the First Lutheran Church for many years. He served as President of the Gimli Icelandic Festival in 1907 and 1919.
He died at the St. Boniface Hospital on 11 June 1956 and was buried in the Brookside Cemetery. He was commemorated by Vopni Avenue until 1982 when the street was renamed Park Lane Avenue.
Some of his construction works in Manitoba included:
Birth, marriage and death registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.
“Ex-alderman J. J. Vopni dies at 92,” Winnipeg Free Press, 11 June 1956, page 5.
“Early Icelandic builders in Winnipeg” by S. Aleck Thorarinson, Logberg Heimskringla, 30 March 1967, pages 4-5.
Vopni family genealogy, Geni.
We thank Dorothy Mills for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 1 June 2022