In 1924, the tradition of selecting a woman to be the Fjallkona began. The Fjallkona (Maid of the Mountain) is Iceland, and the Icelanders are her children. Mrs. Sigrun Lindal became the first Fjallkona of Islendingadagurinn. At the festival, the selected woman sits on her elevated throne, clad in the beautiful and dignified formal Icelandic costume of a white gown, green robe with ermine, golden belt, high-crowned headdress and white veil falling over the shoulders to the waist. Two maids of honour, formerly clad in plain Icelandic costume with tasseled skullcaps, are now dressed in white. In former years, these maids of honour were known as Miss Canada and Miss America.
Margaret Thorlakson Kernested 2019 Fjallkona
Margaret was born in Gimli, Manitoba, to Karl Oskar & Johanna (nee Sigurdur) Thorlakson. Margaret grew up in the Rural Municipality of Gimli. She married Emil Gudmundur Kernested, son of Kristjan & Sigriđur (nee Hanson) Kernested of Kjarna in Husavik. Margaret’s pride in her Icelandic Heritage was instilled in her by her Mother-in-Law, Sigriđur “Sigga” Kernested.
Emil and Margaret were blessed with two children, Kristjan James (Shanne), Winnipeg; and Candace Violet (Robert Glanville), Melbourne, Australia. Emil and Margaret made their home in Winnipeg where they raised their two children. Weekends and Holidays were always spent at Kjarna. Margaret lost her life companion and best friend in 2003 when Emil passed away, too young, after a brief illness. Their son Kristjan now owns and operates the Kjarna family farm which was homesteaded in 1876 by Kristjan Vilhelm Kernested who emigrated from Eyjafjörđur, Iceland. Kjarna is a 6th generation Centennial Farm. Kristjan and Shanne have 3 children; Julia Lillian, Emily Rose, and Alexander Johann.
Margaret’s Father, Karl Oskar Thorlakson, was born at Finnbogastađir, in Finns, Manitoba, to Halldór Þhorláksson and Gróa Sigriđur (Sigurđardóttir) Þhorláksson. Both immigrated from Iceland in 1914; Halldór from Dvergasteini, Seyđisfjarđarhreppi, Norđur Múlasýsla, and Groa from Fjarđaröldu, Seyđisfjarđarhreppi, Norđur Múlasýsla. They were married in Winnipeg on June 4, 1914. Karl’s parents both died in tragic accidents when Karl was very young. His mother died in a house fire at Finnbogastađir, and his father in a Construction accident in Selkirk, Manitoba. Karl was raised in Selkirk by relatives, Barđar and Guđfinnu (Gísladóttir) Einarsson.
Margaret’s Mother, Johanna Sigurdur, was born at Höfn on McElheran Road. This homestead was settled in 1901 by Johanna’s maternal grandparents, Pétur Eyjólfsson from Fossgerđi, Eiđasókn, Suđur Múlasýsla, (son of Eyjólfur Benediktsson, Pioneer of Eyjólfsstađir, Hnausa), and Sigurbjörg Magnúsdóttir, born at Hólshúsum, Húsavikursókn, Norđur Múlasýsla. Pétur and Sigurbjörg emigrated from Iceland in 1889 with their 2 daughters, Guđlaug and Thórunn Björg. They first settled in Hallson, North Dakota, where a son, Magnús was born. Their daughter, Guđlaug Sesselja Pétursdóttir married Thorsteinn (Stoney) Jóhannson Sigurdur (shortened from Sigurđsson). They made their home at Höfn where Margaret`s Mother was raised. The homestead remains in the Sigurdur family, now 5th generation.
Johanna’s paternal grandparents were Jóhann Sigurđsson born in Hringsdal, Grýtubakkahreppur, Northeastern Region, and Jóhanna Jónatansdóttir, Leifshúsum, Svalbarđssókn, Suđur-Þingeyjarsýsla. They emigrated from Grenivik, Grýtubakkahreppur, Northeastern Region, in 1878. They originally settled at Birkines, Loni Beach, where Johanna’s father was born in 1879, the 9th of 10 children born to this couple.
Margaret`s Mother, Johanna, was born legally blind, in an era when it was necessary to be independent and self sufficient. There was very little that she could not do, and she instilled this determination in her 4 daughters. She taught them to help themselves and each other, accomplish what you can, and never give up. Margaret and her sisters, Marlene Forbes, Christine Dann, and Hazel Williams, have been each other`s support, guideance, and friend during their entire lives. Johanna, like Margaret, was widowed young. She lived with Emil and Margaret and helped to raise Kristjan and Candace. Emil and Margaret both worked, but their “Granny” was always there for them, to love them, and guide them on the right path.
Following graduation from Gimli High School, Margaret was employed by the Province of Manitoba in Human Resources and Systems Management until her retirement in 2006. Following retirement she moved to the cottage her and Emil had built in Silver Harbour, Arnes, Manitoba, where she currently resides. In retirement, Margaret was able to become very involved in the Icelandic Community.
She started out as a volunteer at Lögberg Heimskringla, and subsequently was appointed to the L-H Board as a Director. She served on the Board from 2007 to 2018. Margaret was honored along with numerous other past Editors and Board Members at the 2018 Ljósanótt. During her time with the paper, she assisted with numerous activities, events and fundraisers of the Board, including the annual Icelandic Open Golf Tournament.
In 2007, Margaret established the Gimli Kvennahlaup, Women’s Walk. The only Manitoba Kvennahlaup was being held in Winnipeg. Margaret and her sisters felt that as Gimli was known to have the largest concentration of Icelanders outside of Iceland; it should have its own walk. She has organized the Walk as a yearly event in Gimli ever since. 2019 will be the 13th year for the walk in Gimli, and the 30th year in Iceland. Proceeds from the Gimli walk are donated to the Gimli Icelandic Canadian Society. Margaret also assisted with the start up of Kvennahlaup in Arborg, which is now in its 6th year. Manitoba walks are co-ordinated with the organizers of Kvennahlaup Iceland.
Margaret is a long serving Member of the Gimli Icelandic Canadian Society, assisting with the many activities of the Club. Margaret helped with the 2009 INLNA Convention which was hosted by GICS. She is looking forward to being of assistance with the 2020 Convention which will be hosted by 4 Interlake Clubs, and will be held in Gimli. Margaret is a past Secretary of GICS, and is currently the Newsletter Editor. She has been publishing the GICS Newsletters for the past 6 years.
Margaret is also a Member of the Minerva Ladies Aid. Minerva Ladies Aid will celebrate 100 years of community service in 2020. Margaret is a new member and is looking forward to working with the existing members to ensure both the Ladies Aid and the Minerva Hall will continue to be a viable part of the Community for many years to come.
Margaret loves to travel and has visited many countries. Australia is beautiful but it is very hard to have her daughter and son-in-law so far away. Visits are never long enough or often enough. Margaret has visited Iceland twice; the first trip was through the Snorri Plus Program. She found it amazing that the minute you step off the plane at the Keflavik Airport you feel as if you have come home!
Margaret`s summer weekends are again spent at the Kjarna Homestead which is thriving under the care of Kristjan and Shanne. It is again a gathering place for family and friends to work and relax together. Margaret is an avid outdoors person, as are her children and grandchildren, so whether at the lake, or at the farm, they are together making new memories for a new generation of Kernesteds.