Nonni Jonsson is a first-generation Canadian whose father emigrated from Iceland in 1948. His afi was Jón Þ. Björnsson, schoolmaster in Sauðárkrókur. In 1966, at the age of 17, Nonni spent a summer working in Iceland.
Before the birth of the internet, Nonni began exploring his family tree, tracing his ancestry back as far as possible and even finding familiar names in the Icelandic sagas. Realizing his Icelandic neighbors in the Swan River Valley all ultimately shared the same family tree, he delved deeper into genealogy. One issue that came up immediately was that of anglicized names. Nonni reached out to other locals and with their help was able to identify the original Icelandic names.
Making a tentative effort to connect with Iceland, Nonni received a warm welcome from genealogist Hálfdan Helgason, and together they discovered that their fathers had been schoolmates. With Hálfdan’s help, Nonni has identified many of the Swan River Valley emigrants, who only began settling the area in 1898.
Having been back to Iceland and having seen firsthand that Icelanders have not forgotten their emigrant ancestors, Nonni is an eager volunteer for Icelandic Roots and an advocate of all things Icelandic. His area of genealogy expertise is Manitoba’s Swan River Valley.