Jordan Peterson Family History


Jordan Bernt Peterson was born on June 12th, 1962 to Walter and Beverley Peterson in Fairview, a small town in NW Alberta.  His father was a school teacher there, his mother a librarian at the local college.

A bookish young man, Jordan studied political science and then psychology at the University of Alberta and received his BA in 1985.  He moved to Montreal to attend McGill University where he earned his PhD in clinical psychology.  He remained there as a post-doctoral fellow until 1993.

An academic career beckoned.  He made his reputation at Harvard University, both as an academic professor and as a lecturer in the field.  One student recalled: “His lectures had something akin to a cult following.  I remember students crying on the last day of class because they wouldn’t get to hear him anymore.”  He returned to Canada as a full professor of clinical psychology at the University of Toronto in 1998.

However, in 2016 his life was to move in a different direction.  He had become active on social media and released in that year a series of videos in which he criticized the Canadian bill that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of “gender identity or expression.”  He said that there has been an ongoing crisis of masculinity, indeed a backlash against masculinity. 

His videos, podcasts, and the 2018 book 12 Rules for Life went on to challenge the prevailing orthodoxies of political correctness that were permeating political and cultural life and this brought him a whole new audience.

Norwegian and Other Ancestry

Jordan’s middle name is Bernt.  This came from his Norwegian great grandfather Bernt Peterson.

Jordan’s father Walter had grown up in a farm outside of Naicam in rural Saskatchewan.  The family log cabin there had to fit in three generations of Petersons:

  • grandfather Bernt and his wife Clara
  • father Stanley and his wife Bernice
  • as well as Walter and his two sisters.

Norwegian was mainly spoken there by the grandparents; Norwegian and English by the younger generation.  Still, Walter felt particularly close to his grandfather when he was growing up.  Hence the remembrance of his grandfather’s name when his own son was being born.

These Petersons were originally Pedersens from Norway.  As Walter recounted, two Norwegian families from Oppland in the mountainous region north of Oslo had joined together to build a boat to sail to America. Their numbers included Hans Pedersen and his wife-to-be Gelena.  In the end nine-to-ten of them departed for New York sometime in the 1870’s.  They then moved overland to Minnesota where many Norwegians had gone before them.

They homesteaded first in Minnesota and later in North Dakota.  It was a tough life.  The promise of free land in Saskatchewan drew Bernt Peterson and his wife Clara north to Canada around 1910.  To stake their claim Bernt would have to break in ten acres of land per year, something that would defeat him the first time around, and they went back to North Dakota.  They did return after a few years and this time they made a success of their Saskatchewan farm and over time expanded its acreage.

Bernt and Clara had no children.  Their only son, Stanley, was adopted when he was an infant.  Stanley and his descendants carried on the Peterson name.  But his genes had come from the Irish side of his family.

Stanley’s son Walter, Jordan’s father, moved with his grandparents into the nearby town of Naicam in 1947 when he was ten.  He first met his wife-to-be Beverley at school there.  Afterwards they both departed for the larger town of Saskatoon, Walter to study at university and Beverley to go to nursing school.  They married around 1960 and moved to a small town in Alberta, Fairview, where Walter was a school teacher.

Jordan Peterson’s Family Tree

  • Peder Pedersen (b. 1824) m. Anne Olsdatter (b. 1816) in Oppland, Norway
  • – Peder Pedersen (b. 1851)
  • – Hans Petersen (1857-1931)
  • – Marcus Petersen (b. 1860)
  • Hans Petersen m. Gelena Petersen (1855-1941), emigrated to Minnesota
  • – Bernt Peterson (1884-1970)
  • Bernt Peterson m. Clara Svingen from North Dakota (1882-1950), homesteaded in Saskatchewan
  • – Stanley Peterson, their adopted son (Irish)
  • Stanley Peterson m. Bernice Kittleson from Minnesota (1915-2009)
  • – Walter Peterson (b. 1937)
  • – Beatrice (Betty) Peterson (b. 1939)
  • – Judy nee Peterson Harvey (b. 1944)
  • Walter Peterson m. Beverley Ponath from Saskatchewan (b. 1939) in 1960
  • – Jordan Peterson (b. 1962)
  • – Bonnie Peterson (b. 1964)
  • – Joel Peterson (n. 1967)
  • Jordan Peterson from Alberta m. Tammy Roberts (b. 1965) in 1989
  • – Mikhailha Peterson (b. 1992)
  • – Julian Peterson (b. 1994) m. Rudy



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Written by Colin Shelley

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