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Life in the Early Days at Vidivollum

Time 0:04:39


I was born in a log house on the farm, back in the good old days in 1925 in the Minerva district near Gimli. When the Icelanders immigrated to Canada they were promised that this would be New Iceland. They could establish their own government, and keep their customs and traditions. When I went to school I didn’t speak English as the language in the district was almost pure Icelandic.

One old Icelandic custom is naming your farm by the first name of the owner and giving the farm a name. The farm my grandfather settled in 1897 was known as Vidivollum. It took them many years to clear the land and get established as farmers. It was very difficult to get things to market as there were really no roads as such only trails that were cleared. There was always a demand for cream and dairy products, but not whole milk because of the volume, and there was no refrigeration. It wasn’t until the railroad came in, that the dairy companies came out and offered producers the opportunity to ship whole milk to market by rail. My grandfather started to ship whole milk to Winnipeg in 1915. Because of the war, the debts of the 20s, the depression, and a ten year drought, it made it virtually impossible to make progress until after the second world war.

At that time, I was very fortunate, I had made it to grade 9, but then I had to go out to make a buck. Going wages then on a farm or in town or on the lake was $15 month. I wanted to become a fisherman, but the fishing was so poor and the prices were so bad. Being the only boy, I had the opportunity to take over the family farm. In the early years, I bought registered stock, black and white dairy cattle, and was fortunate enough to become quite successful. Just because of being in the business, I became an official judge of dairy cattle. Through that, I went to other provinces, to South America, the United States.

About 15 years ago, I turned the farm over to my son and his wife. I bought some smaller properties not in use, cleared them, and established productive cultivated farmland out of it. I had better tools to do it, but it was just like my grandparents did so many years ago. I did it because I love to farm and I could because I still feel strong and healthy. I credit that to eating whole milk and lots of dairy products my whole life. My son is the fourth generation of farmers in the Narfason family. Actually, in two years it will be a century that my family has produced milk for the Winnipeg market.

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