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The University of Manitoba campuses are located on original lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Ojibwe-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and on the National Homeland of the Red River Métis. More

Icelandic Collection: Researchers

Research at the University of Manitoba Icelandic Collections

Here in the Iceland room we offer office space to those using the Icelandic collection for their research. This includes access to the Icelandic library and archives and we are happy to assist in finding the materials you need. Visiting researchers are included below.

Doreen McFarlene


Doreen Borgfjord McFarlane, daughter of Gudni Edward and Jean Borgfjord, was born in Winnipeg, Canada, and has always been proud of her Icelandic heritage. Her grandparents, Jon Magnusson Borgfjord and Gudrun Eggertsdottir Borgfjord, emigrated from Iceland in 1888 and were married in Winnipeg. They were homesteaders, and Jon was the first to build a house on their farm (Hvanneyri), along the Icelandic River in Arborg Manitoba. Over the years, Doreen sang many solos in Icelandic for Islendingadagurinn and other Icelandic occasions (Gimli, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, and Markerville). Following a solo tour of Western Canada and eight years with the Canadian Opera Company, she toured for many years for the Community Concert Association of New York, with her late husband, baritone, Michael McFarlane. She entered seminary, obtained a Master of Divinity, was ordained and served in the US as a pastor for twenty five years. She earned her Ph.D in Bible from Chicago Theological Seminary at the age of fifty three. After serving four years as a seminary professor in Nanjing and Shanghai China, she returned to Canada, and resides in the Niagara region. She recently served as pastor of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCIC) in Niagara Falls, and is currently preaching monthly at three area churches.

Doreen has taught on the university and seminary level for twenty five years. She has recently delivered papers at the Society of Biblical Literature meetings for the Eastern Region and in Salzburg, Austria. Her next two presentations for SBL will be in San Antonio Texas, in November 2023. Doreen has five published academic books. Her most recent book, “Leirarskotta, Icelandic Ghost”, tells the story of the ghost who is remembered as following her family since 1703 (eight generations). Doreen has created and will edit a Festschrift in honour of the late Dr. Andre LaCocque, to be published by Wipf and Stock in 2025. Doreen is pleased to be part of the genealogical team of Icelandic Roots. 
Doreen has three daughters: Deborah, Christine, and Sarah, three fine sons in law, and seven granddaughters. She is to be married to Eigil Hillerup. 

Jay Lalonde

Jay Lalonde is a PhD student in history at the University of New Brunswick. After studying Icelandic and translation studies at the University of Iceland, Jay is now focusing on Icelandic settlers in Atlantic Canada and on changes in Canadian immigration and colonial policy in their dissertation.


Being able to work at the Icelandic Collection at the University of Manitoba this summer has been essential to my dissertation work, as the Collection holds many letters of early Icelandic settlers in Canada. Much of my research is informed by such letters (ca. 1872-1878), as they often discuss the ways individual settlers thought about emigration, the doubts they may have had, and the pros and cons of various settlement plans in Canada and the United States that were being promoted at the time (the promoted locations included Wisconsin, Nebraska, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and even Alaska), and provide evidence of the agency and mobility of Icelanders in America, as well as of the ways information flowed among individuals. In addition to these letters, the Icelandic Collection also includes a large collection of documents by the once-well-known author J. Magnús Bjarnason. He lived in Nova Scotia as a child before moving to Manitoba with his family, and worked as a schoolteacher most of his life, but was also a prolific writer. He wrote many short stories, novels, poems, and even plays, and kept a meticulous diary, all of which are valuable records of life in Icelandic-Canadian communities in the first half of the twentieth century as well as evidence of the close relationships some Icelanders maintained across long distances and even across the US-Canada border. I have published a translation and analysis of his novella "An Icelandic Driver"—set in Halifax, NS—in Scandinavian-Canadian Studies this spring, but much of J. Magnús’s work remains untranslated. Many of his manuscripts are kept at the Manuscript Collection of the National Library of Iceland in Reykjavík, but the University of Manitoba seems to have the only other archive with anything close to a comprehensive collection, containing many letters (as he typically wrote multiple letters every day), as well as manuscripts and drafts of poems and short stories, and various personal documents—even his last will. The Icelandic Collection is an indispensable resource for anyone studying Icelandic settlement in North America and Icelandic-Canadian communities.

Christopher Crocker

Christopher Crocker is a scholar of medieval and modern Icelandic literature currently based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He has worked at the University of Manitoba, the University of Winnipeg, and the University of Iceland.

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Having access to the resources available at the University of Manitoba Icelandic Collection was vital to my research on the North American-Icelandic children's newspaper Sólskin (Engl. Sunshine). Sólskin was published between 1915 and 1934 as a part of the larger newspaper Lögberg. The Icelandic Collection holds original copies of the paper as well as a vast collection (no doubt the biggest in the world) of other primary and secondary sources on North American-Icelandic culture and history that supported my work. My research specifically focused on a selection of letters written by children published in Sólskin and resulted in an open-access e-book collecting digital transcriptions of the letters along with my own English translations. The e-book, titled Letters from the North American-Icelandic Children’s Newspaper Sólskin: October 1915-April 1918, was published as an Open Educational Resource using Pressbooks, an online publishing tool available through UM Libraries. I have also recently published a short monograph on the Sólskin letters title The Sunshine Children (Hin kindin, 2023).