Eymundson, Charles

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Eymundson, Charles

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      • Sigurdsson, Matusalem

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      Dates of existence

      1872-1966

      History

      Charles Matusalem Eymundson was born Matusalem Sigurdsson on June 15, 1872 in Sauðanes, Iceland. He was the second son of whaling ship captain Sigurður Eymundsson and Guðrun Johanna Einarsdottir. In 1882, the Eymundsson family immigrated to the United States and founded a homestead on the Tongue River near Mountain, North Dakota.

      After Sigurður Eymundsson's death in 1886, Guðrun sold the homestead to her brother, Thorvarður Einarson, and immigrated to Canada with her children in 1888. The Eymundsson family eventually settled near Red Deer, Alberta.

      In the period from 1888 to 1910, Charles worked at O'Claire's Lumber in Calgary for three years, American Detective Association in Vancouver for twelve years, and as a cook in China for some period of time. Also during this period, Eymundson spent time in northern Alberta and Manitoba and wrote three books and several newspaper articles, including opinion editorials and field reports for the Edmonton Bulletin and other publications. Eymundson's books were all published in Winnipeg and two of them were in Icelandic: Skóli Njósnarans (1902) and Hugboð og Tönn fyrir Tönn (1903). The third book, Knowledge is My God; or, Ignorance My Curse (1903), was published in English.

      On March 8th, 1910 Charles married Asdis Sophia Olafsson in Glenboro, Manitoba. Asdis was born in Grafton, North Dakota to Tryggvi Olafsson and Berglaug Guðmundsdottir but immigrated with her family to Canada in 1892.

      After their marriage, Charles and Asdis founded a homestead in Fort McMurray, Alberta and had several children. Their first child, Romeo Charles (born July 4, 1911), was said to have been the first child of European ancestry born in Fort McMurray. Romeo was followed by Iona Sophie (born November 25, 1913), Darrow Thor (March 31, 1923), and twin boys Oliver Tex and Julius Sigurd (born May 4, 1925). Julius died in infancy.

      On April 18, 1918 the Athabasca River flooded near Fort McMurray and pushed the Eymundson homestead off of its foundation and into the bush with the family stranded on the roof for more than two days.

      During his time in northern Alberta, Charles became a skilled hunter and trapper and often worked in competition with the Hudson Bay Company. Because of his skills and knowledge of the area, he also worked as a guide for visitors and explorers, including oil field expeditions such as those conducted in the 1920s by Dr. Karl A. Clark, inventor of the hot water oil separation process.

      In 1924, Charles attained ownership of the local telephone company that connected the towns of Waterways and Fort McMurray. As Charles advanced in years, he turned control of the company to his son, Romeo, who operated the facility until Alberta Government Telephones assumed control in 1958.

      Charles eventually retired to Camrose, Alberta and died there at the age of 94 in 1966.

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