Geraldine Ellen McDonald was born and brought up in Greater Vancouver, BC. While studying at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Gerri and a friend went on a summer trip to Iceland. There, she connected with many of her grandparents’ first cousins and with third cousins from her own generation. After graduating from UBC with a degree in Asian Studies, she returned to Iceland, enrolling at the University of Iceland. But it was the National Archives that kept calling to her, and she spent more time there researching her family than she did in school. Gerri was briefly married to an Icelander and they have a daughter, Steinunn, who was born in Iceland but raised in Canada from the age of two.
Gerri worked for Canada Customs for 32 years, retiring in 2009. She joined the Icelandic Canadian Club of British Columbia in 1991 and has served in various leadership positions over the years, including president, secretary, and director at large. She has also been involved with the INLNA, serving as president from 2008 to 2010 and as regional director for many years.
Over the years, Gerri has researched family history for many people. She works with the Scandinavian Cultural Society and the BC Genealogical Society’s Scandinavian group in Burnaby, BC. She even established the SCC’s genealogy centre in what was then known as Iceland House. In the past few years she has seen a marked increase in roots tourism with many people contacting her for information before traveling to Iceland, hoping to see the sites where their ancestors lived. “There are always challenges in genealogical research and that is what makes it fun,” says Gerri. “Solving that puzzle is always an accomplishment.”