The Logberg settlement in eastern Saskatchewan was established in 1890 by Johannes Einarsson and Gisli Egilsson.
Now, maintaining and improving the cemetery, the last remnant of this settlement, has become the dedicated work of a volunteer group.
Johannes, his wife, Sigurlaug, their baby daughter, Elva, and Johannes’ mother, Ovida, left Iceland in 1889, moving first to the Icelandic settlement near Mountain in the North Dakota Territory where Johannes’ birth mother, Ovida’s sister, was living. There Johannes met Gisli Egilsson who had come to North America at least a decade earlier, first settling in Gimli and then moving to the Dakota Territory.
In the fall of 1889, Johannes and Gisli took the train, the old Manitoba Northwestern, which later became the main CPR line from Winnipeg and Edmonton. At the end of the steel, they found an English community called Churchbridge. Icelanders had established Thingvalla, their community, in 1885.
In 1890, Johannes and Gisli returned to the area with their families, establishing the Logberg settlement, north of and smaller than the Thingvalla settlement. The first Canadian born in the settlement, Jon Einarsson, arrived in December 1890, He became a lawyer, enlisted, and sailed overseas with John Diefenbaker in World War I. He was killed at Passchaendaele.
The Einarsson farm became the center of the Logberg settlement. Until 1927, the store and post office were located at the farm. A church was built on the property and a graveyard for the Logberg families was established. The first pastor was Reverend G. Guttormson.
Joe Einarsson was very active in both the local and the provincial community. He established the first cooperative in what is now Saskatchewan, a creamery in Saltcoats. He helped organize a school at Rothburn and was the first Reeve of the Rural Municipality of Churchbridge. On the broader scene, he was active in the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities convention and, as well, attended the first General Meeting of the delegates of the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool and the 1927 Convention of Saskatchewan Agricultural Societies and the 1928 International Wheat Pool conference.
Over the years, the Logberg Icelandic community either moved away or died off. The Logberg church was sold in the mid 1950s and nobody kept the graveyard in passable condition. By the early 1960s, nobody was being buried there.
As the centennial of Saskatchewan’s entry into Confederation in 2005 approached, a heritage Cemeteries Project was created as a non profit organization based in Langenburg to cover the churches and cemeteries in the RMs of Langenburg and Churchbridge. Because the Logberg settlement was in such bad condition, it was one of the first that the group turned to.
Volunteers have transformed the cemetery from a wild growth of poplars back to a cemetery seeded and packed so that grass once again grows amongst the graves. As a result of a road but through by the RM, there is now easy access to the graves. Nelson Gerrard prepared a very nice marker so the cemetery can be easily recognized by anyone driving west from MacNutt.
The next steps are to plant some blue spruce and to move a rock to the roadside and erect a plaque – the rock will be symbolic of the law rock.
The work, mostly done by a local volunteer committee led by Laurie Popp of MacNutt, is not just cosmetic. None of them are Icelandic. They are just good people. A grave witcher identified unmarked graves and the group erected crosses to mark the plot. There are 23 marked graves and 10 crosses.
The oldest stone was for my langa amma Ovida Loptsson who died in 1906, 16 years after they established the settlement. The oldest person was Gudbjorg Sedford – 1844 to 1944. There were also two day old infants. Most of the names are Icelandic – Anderson, Egilsson, Sedford, Hallson, Olson, Johnsson, and Einarsson... My father is an exception – Martin is the only English name.