Family Histories
of the Swan River Valley
Manitoba, Canada
Pioneer Centennial
History Book
100 Years in the
Swan River Valley
1898 - 1998

Johann and Helga Bjornson

It was in the year 1899 our mother Helga Egilson arrived in the Swan River Valley with her parents, four brothers and one sister from Mouse River, North Dakota. They set up a homestead in the Crestview area. This journey had considerable hardships and challenge.

In 1918 Helga met and married Johann (Joe) Bjornson who emigrated from Iceland, some years before. They bought and cleared land, later growing grain, raising cattle, pigs and poultry. Many hardships were endured during the depression years.

They had a family of six sons, Haldor (Hal), Jonas, Kris, Elmer, Lawrence and John (twins) and a daughter Dorothy.

In 1943 they moved two miles east of Swan River from Crestview.

Hal helped on the farm until 1941, then joined the army and served overseas receiving his discharge in November 1945. He started working for MacLeods as a salesclerk in 1946 in Swan River and then to Humbolt, Saskatchewan. In 1953 he became manager at Stettler, Alberta where he married Minnie. Hal and Minnie had a son and two daughters. He was transferred to Red Deer in 1963, After thirty-five years of service with MacLeods he retired and continues to reside in Red Deer, Alberta.

Jonas enjoyed farm work and helped many farmers in the area. He was also employed in the mines at Snow Lake and Lynn Lake for a number of years. Jonas and Annie have a family of four daughters and one son. Jonas passed away in 1980.

Kris spent many years doing farm work in the area and some years in Snow Lake and Lynn Lake. In later years he worked in the agricultural field in the Interlake area. He passed away at Gimili in 1995 after a brief illness.

Elmer remained in the Swan Valley. In the early years he delivered milk while helping on the family farm. In 1959 his parents took up residence in Swan River at which time he purchased the family farm. While he continued farming he also worked at MacLeods in Swan River where he was in charge of furniture and appliances for many years. Ruby his wife from Scotland, Registered Nurse Certified midwife, Public Health Nurse provided nursing services throughout the Valley for thirty-two years.
Both are retired and reside in Swan River.

Lawrence finished school in Swan River. He worked in construction helping build the Swan Valley Hotel followed by many years of service with MacDonald’s Construction in Regina and Edmonton. He later moved to Cloverdale, BC. Lawrence and wife Marion have three daughters. Lawrence passed away in 1980.
John also helped on the family farm as much as possible. In 1965 following the death of his father he moved to Portage La Prairie where he still resides.

Dorothy graduated from high school in Swan River. She completed her nursing training at Winnipeg General Hospital graduating with her RN certificate in 1953. She spent two years as a Public Health Nurse in Swan Valley District. In 1956 she went to Montreal for training as an airline stewardess. She later joined with Trans Canada Airlines. Unfortunately on December 9. 1956 T.C.A flight 810 crashed near Mt. Slesse, BC, all passengers and crew lost their lives.A monument was erected near Chilliwack and one on the Mount Slesse- Commemorative site.

Johann Bjornson passed away in 1965 in the Swan River Hospital. Helga Bjornson passed away in 1976 in the Personal Care Unit in Swan River.

Submitted By: Ruby Bjornson


Manitoba's Swan River Valley is an area rich in history. These family histories were a part of the 1998 Pioneer Centennial History Book project. If you would like the history of your area available online, have your historic group contact the Key Rock Group for information on electronic publication. We offer publication free of charge and also provide the option for making your history book available on CD.