A new archival collection is now available at Rare Books and Special Collections: the Stefan Arnason fonds contains the diaries of an Icelandic immigrant who, like a Canadian version of Grapes of Wrath, packed up his family of thirteen in 1937 in a 1.5 ton Dodge truck and moved them from Pine Valley, Manitoba to Vancouver. The diary excerpt shown here describes their arrival in the Vancouver area- unable to find accommodations able to house such a large family, their first “home” in Vancouver was camping out in Central Park in Burnaby, which he initially described as a “forest near the Vancouver city limits.” The diaries continue from there to chronicle the family’s every-day life in Vancouver, including employment issues, family occasions, and even the weather. Stefan Arnason was an active diarist until his death in 1956.
The diaries and their transcriptions, as well as other notebooks and documents, have been made available for use here at RBSC through their generous donation by the descendants of Stefan Arnason. Most of the material is in English; some earlier diary entries are in Icelandic, but translations are available in the transcriptions.