The origins of the Municipality of Bifrost-Riverton stretch back to 1875, when the Government of Canada set aside Townships 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23 from the shore of Lake Winnipeg to the beginning of Range 2E for Icelandic settlement. As the population grew, it became clear that local government was required. Therefore, the RM of Gimli was established in 1887, and the Rural Municipality of Bifrost was created out of the northern part of that municipality in 1907.
Agriculture, forestry and fishing were the main sources of income for the area. The extension of the railway to Arborg in 1910 and Riverton in 1914 ensured a quick and easy way of transporting both goods and individuals. Prior to the arrival of the railroad Riverton was known as Lundi, from the Icelandic word lundur meaning copse or grove. With the railway came another surge of population growth and property development which spurred the separation of the two largest urban areas of the municipality.
The Unincorporated Village District of Arborg was created on February 5, 1917, and became incorporated on January 1, 1964. The Unincorporated Village District of Riverton was created on February 1, 1926, and received full Village status on January 1, 1952. Also, in 1950 the residents of Hecla Island successfully lobbied to be taken over by the Provincial Government. This led to the island receiving designation as a provincial park in 1969.
Beginning in 1980, a group of landowners in the Local Government District of Fisher petitioned to switch to the RM of Bifrost, and a new border on the west side of the municipality was established in 1984. Effective January 1, 2015 the RM of Bifrost and the Village of Riverton amalgamated to form the Municipality of Bifrost-Riverton, due to a mandate of the Government of Manitoba that saw many municipalities do the same.
Many thanks to “The Icelandic Saga” by Nelson S. Gerrard (1985) and “A Century Unfolds” by the Arborg Historical Society (1987). These books can be viewed at the Riverton and Arborg branches of the Evergreen Regional Library.
Other resources for local history include:
- The History of the Community Ledwyn by Michael Hawrysh.
- Beyond the Marsh: History of Vidir, Lowland and Sylvan Districts by the Vidir Ladies Aid. This book also has a sequel.
- Hnausa Reflections: A History of the Breidavik District 1876-2004 by the Hnausa History Book Committee.
- Faith and Fortitude: A History of the Geysir District 1880's - 1980's by the Geysir Historical Society
- Riverton Memories by the Riverton Centennial Committee.
- Riverton and the Icelandic Settlement by Dr. Steinn O. Thompson
- Mikley, the Magnificent Island : Treasure of Memories : Hecla Island, 1876-1976 by Ingibjrg Sigurgeirsson McKillop.
- Icelandic River Heritage Sites
- Arborg & District Multicultural Heritage Village
- Riverton Musical Memories exhibit in the Virtual Museum of Canada
- Riverton Transportation and Heritage Centre