Haldora (Bkornsdottir) Thorlakson




Life and Work

Brynjolfina Haldora Bjornsdottir Thorlakson was born August 22, 1895, at Bjork, in Sandvikurhreppur, Iceland. She came to Canada after her mother's death in 1901. Travelling alone by ocean liner and train, the six-year-old arrived in Manitoba where she met her foster parents en route to Alberta.

Dora grew up as a farm girl and, in 1913, married Bjorn Thorlakson, the first Icelander born in Markerville to parents who settled here in 1888. Dora and Bjorn farmed north of Markerville, with Dora nurturing her 10 children and attending to chores both indoors and out.

Dora built her own kitchen table, was a superb cook and prepared sheeps' wool by washing it in the river, carding and spinning it into yarn, then knitting the yarn into mitts and socks for her large family. In the Dirty Thirties she supplemented the farm's meager income by selling handmade woolens and quilts. She also tatted, crocheted, embroidered and was a competent seamstress, making perfectly fitting garments without the use of a pattern.

Devastated by the tragic drowning death of her third child, Dora resolved to put her family first. Her 26 grandchildren were especially important to her and all were recipients of her love and understanding. Handmade dolls and toys, songs, storytelling, heart-to-heart talks, drinking coffee from a saucer and laughter - these memories and many, many more live on in the hearts of her grandchildren.