Estonians outside Estonia
(Chapter 1, pp. 1-18)
Estonians have lived for generations in the area between the Baltic Sea and Lake Peipus. Before the proclamation of the Republic of Estonia in 1918, about 300,00 Estonians lived outside their ancestral homeland. But after Estonia lost its independence in the 13th century, it was not until the reforms of the early 19th-century and the rapid rise in urbanization that opportunities arose for emigration. According to census data, the natural increase in population of the province in the Livonia "gouvernment" (Southern Estonia) between 1881 and 1897 was 139,072. During the same period, 146,085 left the area. The same, source places the natural increase in population of the provinces in the "governement of Estonia" (Northern Estonia) at 45,498, the number emigrating at 26,386. The largest Estonian settlements were in Russia. During the 19th century many Estonians also went to the United States of America.
The second half of the 19th century saw massive emigration as people left Estonia in search of better living conditions and greater freedom. Estonian settlements arose in the Crimea, Caucasia and the area east of Lake Peipus in Russia. In fact, according to the Russian census of 1917, there were in the Oudova prairie east of Lake Peipus about 40,000 Estonians, who formed 25 percent of the total population there.
The next wave of emigration - from the Estonian settlements in Russia - saw many leave for Canada and the United States. Because it was not customary for lands to be divided among sons and heirs, most of those who followed this route were the landless younger sons of Estonian settlers. At that time free land or homesteads could be obtained, in the United States and Canada. A sizeable portion of the first Estonian settlers in Alberta came from the Estonian settlements in Russia, especially from Nurmekunda in the Tver "gouvernement."
Under the 1920 peace treaty between Estonia and Russia, it was possible for Estonians from Russia to opt to return to their homeland. About 40,000 of the more than 200,000 Estonians in Russia took up the offer. Most of them were educated people and professionals. Of the farmers and entrepreneurs, only those from nearby locations returned to Estonia. The general chaos, epidemics and difficult travel conditions of postrevolutionary Russia hampered the movement to return to Estonia.
For the Estonians who stayed in Russia, statistics are available for 1926, according to which there were 154,600 Estonians (35,500 urban-and 119,100 rural), of whom 139,500 spoke Estonian. Although there is no general survey available of the fate of Estonian settlements in Russia under Communist rule, the socialization of village life, the collectivization of agriculture and the liquidation of the kulak (rich peasant) class certainly destroyed the formerly prosperous Estonian settlements.
Emigration from independent Estonia took place in the years 1920-1940 as people searched for better economic conditions. The peak of emigration was 1925 and 1926, with 2,676 and 2,426 emigrants respectively, and total emigration in this period was about 17,000. The major destinations were the United States, Brazil and Canada.
In the United States, Estonian farmers founded four large Estonian settlements. The Koidu settlement in South Dakota dates from 1892. The largest Estonian settlement in Wisconsin was the village of Irma, 15 miles from the town of Mernell. In North Dakota there was an Estonian settlement near Dickenson, founded in 1902. The fourth was the Laane settlement in Montana, near Chester, settled in 1905-09 mostly by Estonians from Russia. The total number of Estonians who settled in the United States has never been determined. One reasonable estimate is 69,000, which the American authorities used in 1920 in determining the quota of Estonian immigrants to be allowed entry into the United States. In the 1930s it was estimated that about 50,000 U.S". citizens could speak Estonian.
The number of post-World War I Estonian immigrants to the United States totalled 13,516. In Autralia, there were in 1939 897 persons born in Estonia. The corresponding figure for 1947 was 1,102
In South America the largest group of Estonians were the 3,000 who went to Brazil between 1925 and 1926. A few thousand lived in Helsinki and Riga. At the beginning of World War II, many Estonians left their homeland in the company of Baltic Germans who resettled in Germany.
All of the above-described emigration was voluntary. The massive flight from Estonia in September 1944 took place suddenly under drastically different conditions. The Soviet forces were on the offensive to occupy the Baltic States for the second time. A regime of terror founded on violence was approaching. A part of Estonia was already under its grip.
Fleeing as a refugee meant taking great risks. The sea was perilous. Small craft overloaded with passengers were unsuited for deep-sea voyages in the gathering autumn storms. The refugee ships were attacked mercilessly. Not everyone could choose that hazardous route which led to the shores of Sweden, nor even the alternative: heading for war-torn Germany. The Russians had already started to attack the refugee craft with submarines and air raids. It is estimated that between 1,000 and 1,200 Estonians died at sea on the way to Germany. About 200 Estonians died in the bombing of Dresden. The 800 refugees who found themselves in Denmark at the end of the war had come via Germany.
In 1947 and 1948 about 7,000 Estonians were able to leave Germany for Great Britain under labor agreements. From 1947 on 6,228 Estonians emigrated from Germany to Australia. About 27,000 Estonians left Germany after several years in the displaced persons' camps and settled, overseas. The number of Estonians who fled to Sweden in 1944 and 1945 was estimated at 22,000.
According to government statistics 282 Estonians arrived in Canada in 1947. The next year their numbers increased dramatically, reaching 1,903 and in 1949 2,945. The figure for 1950 declined to 1,949, climbJng in 1951 to 4,573 and falling again in 1952 to 1,350. In 1952 there were 16,000 Estonians in Canada. According to the 1961 census there were 18,500 Estonians in Canada. Their numbers in the early 1970s were estimated at approximately 20,000.
The Estonians in Canada before World War I
(Chapter 2, pp. 19-62)
During the last quarter of the 19th century emigration from Europe to North America increased markedly. In Estonia, as elsewhere, it was well known that a poor man could find unlimited economic opportunities and freedom in the New World. In the 1870s enormous tracts of land in Canada, especially in Alberta, were still vacant. Every settler who was at least 21 years old could by law obtain one quarter-section of land as a homestead for only $10. If after three years, he had at least 15 acres under cultivation, he could obtain ownership of òthe land, and for $2 to $2.50 an acre he could buy more.
The Estonian settlers, who began to come to Alberta toward the turn of the century established seven identifiable settlements. Livonia, near the present town of Sylvan Lake, was the spot where the first Estonian homesteaders, Hendrik Kingsep, a schoplteacher from Nuustaku in the province of Võrumaa, and his brother Kristjan, a seaman, settled in 1899. The land they chose for their new home was wild and untamed, the climate harsh and the weather unpredictable. Despite this, the bountiful growth of grass in the meadows and burnt woodlands gave fodder for cattle. Fish and game were plentiful, and there was no shortage of building materials. The enterprising brothers built a log cabin and furnished it themselves.
The horses which the-settlers had bought on the Prairies were unsuited for the uplands and died. As a result, they had to use slow oxen and mules as draft animals. Their first crops were vegetables and potatoes. They raised pigs and chickens and kept dairy cattle. The settlement grew rapidly and by early 1901 there were five Estonian families totalling 16 people in the Sylvan Lake area. That fall new settlers came from both the Estonian island of Saaremaa and the Nurmekunde settlement in Russia. By the end of 1903 the settlement had grown to 16 farmsteads with a total population of 61. The first school in Livonia was built in 1903 on two acres of land donated by Juhan Kask. Later the Norma School was built on lands belonging to the Tiina farm.
As the Sylvan Lake area became densely settled, Estonians began to seek new lands. They chose Medicine Valley near Eckville, 24 miles to the west. The settlement was founded by Hendrik Kingsep and August Posti, who left Livonia on October 26, 1902. The Medicine Valley area was enchanting to the first Estonian settlers from Võrumaa and southern Tartumaa. The valleys, bluffs and wooded hills, dotted with lakes and small rivers, reminded them of home. But it took time and effort to exploit the riches of the valley. Despite initial hardships the Medicine Valley still seemed like a promised land. Its renown spread quickly to the first settlers' homelands in southern Estonia. As a result the very next year 23 new settlers arrived. They were followed in later years by new groups from Tartu, Võrumaa and elsewhere in Estonia. Although 16 people left the settlement during this first period and 11 died, by the end of the era the Medicine Valley Estonian colony had a population of almost 160.
Because the settlers lacked cash, they had to find paying jobs off the farm, mostly in cities. A man could earn $2 for a 10-hour workday on the CPR lines, although 67 cents was deducted for meals. Through hard work, every settler had his own house and the necessary 15 acres under cultivation after three years, which entitled him to ownership of his homestead.
Each settler had enough woodland to furnish lumber for a house. The walls were built of logs covered with clay, and moss was stuffed into the cracks on the inside. The roof was built of rough lumber covered with sod or hay, later replaced with wood shingles.
Grain crops were slow to develop at first because the virgin lands required machines and draft animals which the settlers could not afford. Potatoes, cabbages, carrots, onions and turnips were initially the only sustenance and source of income. The first cereal crops were rye, barley and oats, wheat being added later on. To overcome the hardships of the first years, the settlers helped each other with plowing and other tasks. Cattle and chickens were the main sources of income.
Major changes took place between 1908 and 1910. By then, most settlers had acquired a measure of financial strength and no longer had to find jobs off the farm. Additional income could be earned in milling. Fritz Kinna learned how to build dams and work with concrete while working on railway bridges, and used hjs new skill to build a mill on the Medicine River. Another mill was built by Juhan Mäesepp. Mart Sestrap had a small windmill, and Karl Moro built a large gristmill and dam on the Medicine River. Later it was converted to steam where business grew, and later still it supplied electricity to the ent''3 town of Eckville". la step with the gradual cultivation of forest and bush and with improved implements, the settlers went from livestock production to mixed farming and later exclusively to grain crops.
Once the Medicine Valley settlers were reasonably established, their first concern was educating their children - far from any major centre. Their only alternative was to establish a local school. The government supplied the schoolhouse plans, the construction foreman and a teacher. Karl Langer sold the land for $1 per acre and Estonian settlers constructed the school and furniture. It was the first in the area and was formally inaugurated on the Estonian feast of St. John's Eve on dune 24, 1909, and officially named Estonian School. The one-room school provided instruction in Grades 1 to 8 in English only. As well, the school became the focal point of the community as a place for meetings, social gatherings and parties.
Organized social and cultural activity began with the founding of the Medicine Valley Estonian Association (MVEA) on April 24, 1910. Within a few years the association had become the focal point for community life. A choir and band, which had been established about 1906, performed regularly at social events and parties and were also in great demand outside of the Estonian settlement. Both the choir and band joined the MVEA. As well, an active theatre company gave performances at each gathering and, together with the choir and band, made guest appearances at the Linda Hall in Stettler. With the founding of the Estonian association and school, the Medicine Valley settlement became active in the entire Eckville area.
The idea of building a communiy hall had been discussed since the beginning of Estonian settlement in Medicine Valley, but due to disputes over whether it should be constructed by the association or by a corporation, the Estonian Hall was not built until 1918 under the auspices of the MVEA. Its opening ceremonies were a major event attended by great crowds. As well, one of the most important activities of the MVEA was the founding of a library. At the time of the first annual meeting in 1911 the library contained 73 purchased volumes and nine donated ones. By 1915 the collection had grown to 244.
The largest and most lasting enterprises were the founding of the local branch of the farmers' union in. 1911 and establishment of a Savings and Loan Spciety for the members of the MVEA in 1912. A farmers' cooperative was founded in Eckville the same year.
The Estonian settlement at Stettler was established in 1904 by Magnus Tipman and Mihkel Kutras when six families.moved there from Sylvan Lake. The number of Estonian settlers who chose homesteads in Stettler that year rose to almost 25. This settlement grew rapidly and by 1910 there were 45 farms with a population of 171. In 1905-1906 the railway reached Stettler, bringing even more settlers to the area. Although all the lands were soon settled, about 20 miles to the south in Big Valley land was still available.
A new Estonian village known as Kalev was founded there with a total of 15 families. At the first community meeting in 1905 the Stettler homesteaders named their locality Linda.
At the recommendation of Pastor Sillak, an itinerant pastor from Medicine Hat who served the Estonian settlements, 10 acres of government land in Linda were obtained for a church. The southwest corner was dedicated as a cemetery. St. John's Lutheran congregation was established. The following year Pastor Sillak told the congregation that if a church was not built, the land would revert to the government. A meeting was called and it was decided that the church would be built. The entire project was carried out by volunteers.
The settlers soon realized that only through mutual assistance could they overcome their problems. At a meeting held in 1910, the 35-member Linda Estonian Farmers Association was founded with John Neithal as president, John Kerbes as secretary and John Oro as treasurer. Because local farmhouses were too small for the meetings that were held once a month, the idea of building a hall soon arose. The farmers donated the necessary materials and volunteered their labor. A new hall, spacious and simple, was ceremoniously inaugurated on St. John's Eve, June 24, 1911, barely one year after the founding of the association. The biggest gatherings each year were on St. John's Eve and Christmas. Parties with varied entertainment followed by dances were held frequently. Every month during meetings, while the older pleople discussed business, the younger ones played soccer or held choir and band practices. The proceeds from parties were used to establish a library, which grew to 2,000 volumes. A ladies' guild was active. This was a period of growth for the Linda settlement. People lived in harmony and the whole community inevitably attended weddings of christenings.
The Estonian settlement at Barons, in the grassy steppes of southern Alberta, 108 miles by highway from Calgary, was founded in the spring of 1904 when Jakob Erdman, born in 1853 in the Estonian township of Ambla, settled there with his family. Other Estonians from South Dakota, the Crimea and Estonia soon followed. The settlement grew quickly: by 1908 there were 77 Estonian settlers. Their main source of income was wheat, although other grains - even rye - were grown. When the market for wheat was poor, flax was cultivated because it was often easier to sell. Some Estonians raised horses. The most famous Estonian farmer in the area was Gustav Erdman. On his 70th birthday on April 8, 1956, the Lethbridge English-language newspaper published a lengthy article and photograph of him under the headline <<Still young at heart - Men like Gus Erdman, 70, built this land.>>
Despite the difficult climate all of the settlers prospered, especially after the building of the railway freed them from the necessity of hauling grain to town by horse-drawn wagon. In good years Gustav Erdman could sell 30 wagon loads of wheat, as well as rye, barley and oats. There were also hard times: crop failures, early killer frosts, sandstorms, plagues of grasshoppers and depressed markets. Mutual assistance saw the settlers through these trials. As well, the Estonian settlers at Barons were outstanding in their efforts at providing education for their children. Many of their sons and daughters obtained university degrees or specialized technical education and found good jobs, mostly in the city.
The first Estonian settlers at Foremost (40 miles south of Lethbridge near the town of Warner) came from the Koidu settlement in South Dakota. One of the first was Hans Meer (Maar), who had also been the first Estonian from the Crimea to emigrate to America. On August 31, 1907, he settled on 160 acres of land about 35 miles north of Warner. He was followed one month later by other relatives. By 1910, the settlement had seven Estonian families and two bachelor homesteaders. Over the years most, of the Estonian settlers have left the area.
The small town of Walsh is located about 30 miles east of Medicine Hat, only a few miles west of the Saskatchewan border. The Estonians who settled there came directly from Russia, the first, J. Smith, in 1904. He was soon followed by his parents and several other families. They settled about 10 miles south of Walsh where the land was empty and bare. As a result the early years were very hard, and those who could build a hut were considered lucky. Some had to settle for holes dug into a hillside until they could earn enough money to build a house. Walsh had 12 Estonian families, but after only a few years some left in search of better land. Estonians also lived elsewhere in Alberta, but detailed information about them is frequently lacking. Usually, isolated Estonian settlers became assimilated and lost their language in one generation because they had no contact with fellow Estonians.
Those Estonian settlers who managed to survive the Depression without losing their lands prospered. In addition to modern mechanicalagriculture, the oil industry changed the way of life in Alberta. Oil is produced in the vicinity of Estonian settlements at Medicine Valley, Stettler and Barons, and quite a few descendants of the Estonian pioneers work as petroleum engineers.
In the three other Western provinces there were few Estonians before World War I. The first Estonians in British Columbia were fishermen. Alec Pink came to Canada in 1895 and worked as a fisherman until later becoming foreman in a fish cannery. Losenberg from Pärnu arrived the same year and settled in the Finnish commune of Sointula on Malcolm island. At the turn of the century, other Estonian fishermen, a few forestry workers, craftsmen amd others aslo came to British Columbia.
The Masefield settlement in Saksatchewan was one desinination chosen in 1910 by Jaan Purask and his wife from Võrumaa. Only a few Estonians, widely dispersed over the province, came to Saskatchewan in this period. The first Estonian known to have come to Manitoba was Eduard Aksim, who according to the New York Estonian newspaper Estonian-American Post (Ameerika Eesti Postimees) was pastor of the German Lutheran congregation at Gretna, near the North Dakota border. A few years later the same newspaper published news of an Estonian called George Thomson in Manitoba.
In Ontario, the oldest and at one time the largest Estonian centre was the gold and silver mining town of Timmins. About 1905, Hans Krimbe from Saaremaa settled there and married a Finnish woman. He was followed by a number of others from Saaremaa, mostly single men. One of the Estonians, named Lepik, later became the Timmins chief of police. The Estonians worked as miners and, if the need arose, as woodsmen. They led an active social life with frequent get-togethers and larger parties. They would also help each other with joint projects such as house building and other endeavors requiring group efforts and developed close ties with the local Finnish population.
A few Estonians came to Ontario even earlier. According to the Estonian-American Post, an Estonian named Rudolfson came to Canada from New York in 1901 and went on to work in an iron ore mine. The same newspaper in 1906 published an article about a small five-person Estonian settlement at Wahnapitae. As well, a few Estonians had farms elsewhere in Ontario.
Due to Quebec's predominant Catholicism and French language, few Estonians in the province settled outside of Montreal. Several Estonians found short-term jobs in that city, such as Juhan Markie in construction. It is believed that the first Estonian to settle permanently in Montreal was Willem Kerson from Hiiumaa in 1912.
It's not known whether there were any Estonians in the Atlantic provinces before World War I.
Estonians in Canada during the Period between the Two World Wars
(Chapter 3, pp. 63-100)
During the years immediately following World War I Canada as an agricultural nation was moving toward industrialization as modern technology made its first impact. The world economic crisis known as the Great Depression, which showed its first signs in 1923, brought about a general slowdown in domestic and foreign investment, a decline in production and severe unemployment. The flow of immigration was therefore restricted by the Canadian authorities. Nevertheless some emigration from Estonia to Canada took place after 1924, largely due to adverse economic conditions in Estonia caused by the dislocations of World War I and the War of Independence, 1918-1920. Immigrants were channelled into agriculture in the Prairie provinces without regard for their skills or personal desires. There were no other opportunities for them in Canada.
The Estonian settlements in Alberta established before World War I had passed the pioneering stage and had prospered before the Depression. Newcomers began arriving from Estonia in 1924, reaching their peak in the period 1927-1931. They totalled 58, including 18 females. About 35 of them remained in the area as farmers but the rest moved on to cities and towns or to the Peace River area where they erected a sawmill and a flour mill. One Estonian almost singlehandedly established a 200-acre market-gardening operation. Others tried trapping and fur trading with limited success.
A noteworthy colonization attempt in British Columbia was led by Johan Pitka (Sir John Pitka), the former vice-admiral of the Estonian navy during the War of Independence. Pitka and his adherents believed that their services to Estonia had not been properly recognized and planned to create a new Estonia somewhere in North America. The admiral made some reconnaissance trips to British Columbia, being particularly attracted by the scenic Stuart Lake area. P'itka was 58 years old when in March 1924 he founded his settlement of 16 souls on the south shore of the lake across from Fort St. John. The settlers' attempts at agriculture and logging - using a portable sawmill - were not successful due to the inaccessibility of the area, which was served by only a seasonal road and far removed from prospective markets. In 1930 Pitka returned with his family to Estonia and the other settlers moved elsewhere in Canada.
Small vegetable, poultry or dairy farms were esablished by Estonian immigrants near Winnipeg, in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia and in Ontario. Some farmers worked in mines, lumber camps or in nearby cities to supplement their income. There were 12 small Estonian farms near St. Catharines, Ontario, and three in the Parry Sound area of that province. As well, small numbers of Estonians were involved in commercial fishing.
It was hard for unskilled men to find work. The women were better off because they could find jobs in hotels and as domestics. Those men who knew several trades often moonlighted -tailor by day, musician by night. Skilled tradesmen such as toolmakers became the elite among the immigrants. Some owned their own houses and automobiles. The homeowner enjoyed high standing among Estonians because his house could serve as a meeting place and provide shelter for recent immigrants. There were only a few Estonians with university educations in Canada. One of them was Professor Eduard Aksim, a theologian at the Lutheran seminary in Waterloo, Ontario.
The oldest Estonian organizations were in Alberta, where both the Medicine Valley Estonian Association (established in 1910) and the Linda Estonian Farmers Society (founded in 1913) owned community halls. The first urban organization was founded in Winnipeg in 1929 with a membership of 32. The founding of the Montreal Estonian Society took place in 1933. Elsewhere a group of Estonian women in Toronto formed the Club of Educated Estonian Women in 1931 to arrange lectures on Estonian topics and prepare exhibits for display at local high schools and community events. This club received first prize for a display of Estonian handicrafts at the Canadian National Exhibition in 1938. The club was also concerned with moral issues and advocated temperance. The Estonian musician Ludvig Juht, who played the double bass with the Boston Symhony, made his first solo appearance in Toronto in 1938 and convinced the local community that they should organize an association. As a result the Estonian Society 'Friendship' was established in 1939. During World War II the organization became fragmented and some patriotic Estonians left Friendship and in 1944 formed a new group, the Toronto Estonian Society 'Edu'(Progress). Its constitution declared that the new society's goal was to "unite Estonians to respect Estonian heritage and independence." When Estonian refugees came to Toronto after World War II this organization grew rapidly into the present-day Estonian Association of Toronto.
The interwar years coincided with the period of Estonian independence. Estonians in Canada maintained contact with the old country through correspondence and occasional visits to Estonia. The major cultural link was provided by newspapers, magazines and books published in Estonia. The magazine Meie Tee (Our Way), published in New York City, the major Estonian-American centre, included coverage of Estonian activities and problems in Canada. The Estonian consulate in New York also served Estonians in both countries. But visits by people from Estonia were rare. Bishop Hugo Rahamägi of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church and the educator Jakob Westholm visited Toronto in 1931. Ironically, the internationally famous playwright and novelist Aino Kallas, who lectured at the Women's Canadian Club of Toronto, had no contact with local Estonians. Professors and scholars from Estonia made occasional visits to Canadian universities and institutes.
Estonians in Canada after World War II
(Chapter 4, pp. 101-125)
World War II severed all contacts between Estonians in Canada and their homeland. Even several years after the war no correspondence was possible with Soviet-occupied Estonia. With the collapse of the German front on Estonian soil in the summer of 1944 large numbers of Estonians fled to Sweden or Germany. But Sweden's postwar policy of friendly relations with , the Soviet Union provided the impetus for many Estonians to leave that country in order to be as far as possible from the grasp of Communism. War-torn Germany was likewise a place which every refugee tried to leave as soon as possible and at any cost. But because Canadian immigration policy saw in the displaced persons of the German refugee camps nothing but a half-starved disintegrated horde, it was inconceivable that they could be useful immigrants for anything other than manual labor. As a result, a large proportion of immigrants with potential for managerial and professional positions were "buried" for at least one year in Canadian forests, farm fields or in domestic servfee. The opportunities for immigration to Canada from the German displaced persons camps and from Sweden through the Canadian consular authorities improved somewhat around 1948-1949. Those refugees who went to Great Britain from Germany later emigrated in large numbers to Canada.
A separate chapter in the history of Estonian immigration to Canada was written by the "boat people" who arrived on the "Viking ships", small vessels which often lacked proper navigation equipment. Between 1945 and 1950 10 ships carrying a total of 1,127 refugees arrived in Canada from Sweden. In addition, 3 ships from other countries brought 466 persons. According to available information, though 50 Estonian Viking ships left Europe in search of new homelands and many were lost at sea. The arrival of the Viking ships was proof that if hundreds of people were ready to brave dangers and even death they must have faced a greater evil than death itself: Communism. In fact Canadian immigration authorities treated the boat people as political refugees.
The Estonians' first jobs in Canada were mostly temporary and involved manual labor: forestry, mining and large hydroelectric construction projects. This led to many Estonians working together. For example, a group of labores near Longlac, Ontario, including two Estonian university graduates and 11 Estonian university students who later rose to prominent positions in their professions. Forestry was not exclusively a "male occupation, as Estonian women worked in the camp kitchens. About 25 Estonian women held such positions in the Lakehead region of Ontario.
One of the largest employers of Estonian refugees from the camps of Germany was Ontario Hydro, which recruited workers for construction of the dam and hydroelectric generating station at Rolphton, Ontario, on the Ottawa River. These Estonians formed the Rolphton Male Choir, which gave several concerts both locally and in Montreal, Ottawa and various northern Ontario centres. The Rolphton project was to last three years, which meant that many workers established more permanent homes. Dependents still in Germany were allowed to immigrate only if suitable accommodation had been established. To meet this need the Estonians built a settlement called Virola at Rolphton, housing 42 residents at the time the project ended in 1951.
After fulfilling the requirements of their immigration agreements, the Estonian refugees generally tended to move to larger cities, where employment opportunities were more diversified. The shortage of rental accommodation forced them to invest their savings in housing. Financial problems, language difficulties and adjustment to the new environment caused hardship and crises in the life of the immigrant. Nevertheless Estonian immigrants became acclimatized fairly rapidly and generally became equal and energetic partners in Canadian economic and social life.
In the eyes of the newcomer, Canadians appeared easely approachable, honest and less formal than Europeans; on the other hand, Canadians seemed somewhat indifferent in comparison with Americans. In the early stages the integration of immigrants took place only through the economic process, not through social or cultural activities. But in church and religious matters Canadians were always warmly receptive and willing to assist, and this provided the basis for congregations with Estonian-language services and later Estonian church buildings. The first political relations of a more permanent nature with Canadians arose with the founding of ethnic newspapers. The early attempts by educated Estonians to make contact with Canadian universities and institutions of learning were more modest.
The Estonian refugees who came to Canada after World War II were greeted by older Estonian settlers who had immigrated here before World War I or in the interwar period. Contacts with them generally remained on a strictly neutral basis for a time. Politics was avoided; often the reason for the earlier arrivals' immigration had been the difficult years of economic dislocation in Estonia, and their political views were influenced by Canada's foreign policy, which had been friendly to the Soviet Union. It took some time before the gulf of several decades could be bridged. The pre-World War II settler had to accept something dramatically new. Estonian-language church services, choirs, dramatic productions, newspapers and youth organizations were startlingly novel to them and had been impossible under the old scheme of immigration. Generally the prewar Estonian settlers have been of great assistance to the newcomers. Their contribution to the establishment and initial direction of many local Estonian organizations has been considerable.
Estonian social and political life in Canada initially seemed be focussed in Montreal in the period 1947-1950. The local Estonian community had grown to about 1,500 by 1950 and then began to decline as the centre of Estonian activities shifted to Toronto, which offered much better employment opportunities, especially in manual occupations. Hundreds of houses in Toronto were built by Estonian tradesmen. The first Estonian weekly newspaper Meie Elu (Our Life) was founded there in 1950. The organized community in Toronto, with its own associations, newspapers, congregations and businesses was a magnet for Estonians arriving to Canada.
Analysis of a sample group provides a limited but interesting picture of Estonians in Canada. The 1961 census disclosed that almost 19,000 Estonians then lived in this country, although only a fraction responded to a questionnaire distributed by the Canadian Estonian History Commission. The questions on education were answered by 1,565 persons as follows: those with elementary education numbered 176 (9 percent); secondary education 738 (49 percent); vocational or military education 197 (13 percent); and higher education 454 (29 percent). The percentage of university graduates in this group is artificially high, i.e. the group under consideration is not in all aspects representative of the Estonian community in Canada. The latter group actually forms about 8 percent of total Estonian population in Canada.
Information on annual income was obtained from 1,181 individuals. Their income in 1965 was: up to $5,000 annually, 723 persons or 61 percent; more than $5,000 annually, 458 persons or 39 percent. Of the latter, 113 persons (10 percent) earned more than $10,000 annually. The section on real estate and business was answered by 1,619 persons. Homeowners numbered 905, 299 owned cottages and 77 owned farms. Information was supplied on 30 commercial establishments and 29 industrial operations. Considering the small size of the Estonian ethnic group, its contributions over a short period of time to the Canadian economy have not been insignificant.
(INCLUDING THE ATLANTIC PROVINCES, QUEBEC AND PART OF ONTARIO) (Chapter 5, pp. 126-131)
Newfoundland's small Estonian population, mostly composed of those transferred there on specific assignments, has declined over the years. The 1961 census showed 108 Estonians in Newfoundland, 55 men and 53 women. Ten years later their numbers had fallen to at most 20, concentrated in St. John's and at the hydroelectric projects of central Labrador. Prince Edward
Island had an Estonian population of six in the 1961 census, two men and four women.
A group of Estonian women came to Nova Scotia in 1948, recruited from Germany to work as domestic servants. When their contracts expired some remained in Halifax and found new jobs, while others went elsewhere. In 1948 groups of Estonian refugees from Sweden began arriving in Nova Scotia as boat people on board what were termed Viking ships. The largest vessels were the Pärnu with 150 refugees, the Walnut with 347 and the Sarabande with 253. Because the Estonian boat people had no immigration visas, they were detained for a few months, but later were free to find jobs anywhere in Canada. According to the 1961 census there were 157 Estonians in Nova Scotia, 85 men and 72 women. By 1971 their number had declined to 54. There are no Estonian organizations and social activity is minimal. The pastor of St. John's Estonian Evangelical Lutheran congregation in Montreal has arranged church services in New Glasgow, which have been followed by social gatherings. There are also a few Estonians who work as commercial fishermen in Halifax, Lunenburg and elsewhere.
The Estonian population of New Bruncwick was 106 (50 men and 56 women) according to the 1961 census. They are concentrated in the largest citly, Saint John. The large proportion of physicians among them is noteworthy. By 1971 the Estonian population had declined to 37.
Quebec had an Estonian population of 1,546 (716 men and 830 women) according to the 1961 census. Montreal and its suburbs were estimated in 1967 to be home to about 1,080 Estonians: 333 families and 217 single adults. The largest group of cottages owned by Estonians, at Dalesville, 48 miles northwest of Montreal, totalled 36 summer homes in 1968. Many others have cottages on Lake Champlain rnear the United States border. Another cluster of about 10 cottages is located on Blue Lake in the Laurentians. In 1948 a group of Estonians from the German refugee camps obtained employment as domestic and hospital workers in Sherbrooke, 96 miles east of Montreal. The were joined in1949 by a group of 46 skilled textile workers from Sweden. At theend of 1949 there were 80 Estonians in Sherbrooke. By 1971 only 26 remained.
Those Estonians who lived in the vicinity of Cornwall, Ontario, have moved to Montreal or to the west. There are still two Estonian farms and a few families in the area. Kingston, Ontario, has about 30 Estonians, not including students at Queen's University and the Royal Military College of Canada.
(Chapter 6, pp. 132-148)
There is no record of when Estonians first arrived in Montreal, although it is generally assumed that seamen intermittently wintered there. The first known Estonian resident of Montreal, Villem M.. Kerson, jumped ship in 1910 after four years at sea, went to Ontario and two years later moved to Montreal. By 1930 a sizable Estonian community composed mostly of young, single people had been established in the city, and in 1933 the Montreal Estonian Society was founded. The association was active until the outbreak of World War II, when many young men entered military service or moved to the United States or elsewhere in Canada.
A renaissance in the Montreal Estonian community began in 1947, and during the next three years the Estonian population grew to more than 1,500 from about 300. Despite the new immigrants' limited knowledge of English or French, those with technical training were in great demand in the Montreal job market. By the end of the 1960s there were about 650 Estonians in the Montreal labor force, employed chiefly in manufacturing, commerce, banking and insurance. Most Estonians in Montreal live in the western part of the city and in the suburbs of the West Island. Their favored summer cottage areas are Blue Lake, Dalesville and the Lake Champlain area. The largest and most memorable event organized by Montreal's Estonian community was the very successful day of festivities and performances held at Expo 67 on May 21, in which more than 600 performers and 3,000 spectators took part.
The Montreal Estonian Society, which lay dormant during World War II, was reactivated on January 28, 1948. The increased flow of Estonian immigrants during the early 1950s provided the vitality to support a wide range of cultural endeavors. The society has cooperated with other organizations to hold art exhibits and ceremonial gatherings on Estonian national holidays.
The second oldest Estonian organization in Montreal is the St. John's Estonian Evangelical Lutheran congregation. Established on January 9,1949, the congregation has been served since its inception by Pastor Karl Raudsepp. In 1954 the congregation bought a church on Marcll Avenue in the western part of the city, which ,was consecrated on November 7 of that year and has since become the centre of community activities. At the end of 1971 the congregation numbered 921. Of other congregations, the St. Paul's Estonian Evangelical Lutheran congregation of Montreal, founded on October 17, 1954, is served by Rev. Oskar Gnadenteich and the Estonian Orthodox congregation, founded in November 1954, is headed by Archpriest Mihkel Ervart.
The Montreal Estonian Women's Choir was founded in 1949 and later became the Montreal Estonian Mixed Choir. Although that choir was disbanded in 1961, in 1964 the women's choir recommenced its activities. The Montreal Estonian Male Choir was founded in December 1954 an gave its first full-length concert in April 1956. The Montreal Estonian War Veterans Association, which has devoted itself to the relief of disabled veterans, was founded in February 1952.
The first Estonian boy scout troop Kotka was founded on January 21, 1951, and as membership grew it became the Estonian Kalev troop in 1952. The first girl guide group, formed in November 1951, developed into the Virve company a year later. In 1957, the Montreal Estonian Youth Relief Association, founded in 1952, purchased a suitable site for a boy scout and girl guide camp in Dalesville. Parcels of this property were sold to private individuals, forming a village of about 20 summer cottages.
Although there has been no independent folk-dance company in Montreal the first group of enthusiasts was active as early as 1949. In 1963, the folk arts ensemble Vikerlased was formed as a joint venture of the boy scout and girl guide movements. It ceased its activities in 1970 when the director and music director both moved to Toronto.
The Montreal Estonian supplementary school began in conjunction with the Sunday school in 1949. Since 1954 classes have been held in St. John's Church. The Montreal Estonian Sports Club was founded in 1952. Both the men's and women's volleyball teams have achieved considerable success, and the women's team won the Canadian championships in 1954 and 1955. The Estonian Women's Association of Montreal was formed in 1958. Since then, the association has featured more than 90 presentations on a wide variety of topics at its meetings. The number of Estonians in Montreal who belong to student fraternities and organizations exceeds 200. The various groups jointly hold an annual Alma Mater Day assembly, where prizes are awarded to the best entrants in the student essay competition.
(Chapter 7,pp. 149-154)
A few Estonian immigrants settled in Ottawa around the turn of the century, among them Juhan Markie, who was 22 when he arrived from Estonia in June 1907 with his two nephews. The number of Estonians increased substantially after World War II. The first of this wave were groups of young Estonian women from Germany hired as household servants in 1947. A few well-educated professionals from the refugee camps in Germany followed and obtained civil service positions. The Ottawa Estonian Society (OES) was founded on December 12, 1948, and began an active program of cultural and social activities. Close contacts with the Department of Citizenship and Immigration helped solve many problems.
In cooperation with the Latvian and Lithuanian communities, Ottawa Estonians publicized the plight of the occupied Baltic countries and their peoples among Canadians. Members of Parliament and government representatives delivered addresses at commemorative assemblies to mark the mass deportations from the Baltic nations. According to available statistics the Estonian population in Ottawa numbered 138 adults and 17 children in 1957. Religious activities became organized in 1961 with the founding of St. Paul's Estonian Evangelical Lutheran congregation, which worships at St. Paul's Lutheran Church and at its peak numbered 100.
In 1959 the president of the OES called a meeting of representatives from European groups, which led to the formation of the League of Captive European Nations. Due to protests from this organization, the mayor of Ottawa cancelled a proposed meeting with the mayor of Moscow. The league's objectives are to counter Communist propaganda and to demonstrate support for those who speak out in defence of the occupied nations of Europe, such as Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker who in an address at the United Nations in 1960 demanded freedom for the Baltic republics and other captive nations.
Over the years the number of Estonians in Ottawa has fluctuated, with resulting variations in the level of activity. Despite the small size of the community the work of the OES and the congregation has continued without interruption. The OES organized a theatre group which in 1968 mounted a very successful production of Oskar Luts's Pärijad (The Heirs) that was also staged for the Estonian community in Montreal.
In 1971 there were some 140 Estonians in Ottawa, many of them retired public servants. Almost all families are homeowners and many have cottages at scenic Crown Point, 35 miles west of the city.
(Chapter 8, pp. 155-173)
Toronto's Estonian population of 10,000 is distributed throughout the metropolitan area. Those Estonians who settled there were well qualified vocationally and educationally. Many worked at odd jobs at first due to language difficulties, but over the past 20 years their achievements have been substantial. Estonian House, the focus of Estonian activities and home to many organizations, is their greatest accomplishment. The idea of acquiring a community centre first arose in 1954, and an organizing committee was formed three years later. A vacant school on Broadview Avenue in East York was bought in 1960 and an addition built in 1962. The Estonian House in 1975 housed the Estonian Association of Toronto and its kindergarten and supplementary schools, the Estonian (Toronto) Credit Union, the Estonian Central Council in Canada, The National Estonian Foundation of Canada, a gift shop and the Estonian Central Archives in Canada.
The oldest existing organization is the Estonian Association of Toronto, founded on November ,18, 1949. 1951 witnessed the establishment of the first children's summer camp, with 100 participants. The supplementary school began its program of evening classes in Estonian language, history and music in 1952. Such groups as the Hunters'and Anglers' Association, the folk-dance troupe, the literary circle and others that later became independent were formed under the aegis of the association. The women's section of the association purchased a farm at Udora and established a children's summer camp before becoming a separate entity, the Toronto Estonian Women's Association. The supplementary school's enrolment grew from 367 in 1955 to more than 500 in 1971. A nursery school section was established when the school moved to the Estonian House in 1960. The association also opened a library, with 1,260 volumes. The Estonian Philately Association was founded in 1955. The Estonian Agronomists' League established on March 4,1954, has organized lectures and field trips to agricultural and horticultural establishments and the University of Guelph. The activities of the Economics Club, founded in 1966, consist of lectures and seminars on economic issues. Those Estonians who come from the island of Saaremaa formed their own association in 1956, and published a commemorative album. The various student associations and fraternities which functioned in independent Estonia have continued their activities in Toronto. An alumni association was founded in 1966. Veterans of the Estonian regiment that fought in Finland formed an association in 1950. The Toronto Estonian Senior Citizens' Club, founded in 1970, has been expanding rapidly. The club - which has its own library - organizes social gatherings, excursions and numerous other activities. The Toronto Estonian Garden Club, formed in 1970, holds lectures discussion groups, film presentations and field trips.
The Estonian Male Choir of Toronto was founded on October 7, 1950. It has performed in Canada, the United States and Europe. 1951 saw the formation of both the Toronto Estonian Mixed Choir and the Toronto Estonian Women's Choir. The youngest choir is the youth mixed ensemble Leelo, founded in 1965. The Estonia concert band was formed in 1956. Eight voice and piano teachers serve the musical needs of the community. Theatre groups have been active since 1950; the first, the Estonian Actors in Canada, was followed the Estonian National Theatre in Canada, established on November 4, 1951. Since 1955 more than 50 plays have been staged in Estonian at the Eaton Auditorium, not to mention many open-air performances and other productions.
The largest athletic group is the Toronto Kalev, founded on April 24, 1951, whose activities have included soccer, basketball, track and field, women's rhythmic gymnastics, men's and boy's gymnastics, cross country skiing, tennis and swimming. Special mention must be made of the internationally acclaimed women's gymnastics group Kalev Estienne, which has appeared at Expo 67, the Mexico City Olympics in 1968, the royal visit of Queen Elizabeth II in 1967 and Expo 70 in Japan. The Tiidus gymnastics group, founded in 1949, also promoted women's gymnastics in Canada. As well, scout and guide organizations have played a major role in shaping Estonian youth.
Until 1969 Johannes Markus served as consul of the Republic of Estonia in Toronto. After his death, llmar Heinsoo was appointed honorary consul general. For many years the Estonian Central Council in Canada, a democratically elected body representing Estonians from across Canada, has stood at the forefront of representing Estonian-Canadian interest. Political matters are also the concern of other political oriented organizations.
Eight Estonian congregations serve the spiritual needs of the community. Two of them, St. Peter's Estonian Evangelical Lutheran congregation and the Estonian Baptist congregation on Broadview Avenue, have built modern churches. St. Andrew's Estonian Evangelical Lutheran congregation has for more than 20 years used Old St. Andrew's Church at Carlton and Jarvis, bought jointly with a Latvian congregation.
Since the 1950s the newspapers Our Life and the Free Estonian, published in Toronto, have served as sources of information on community life. Estonian periodicals and books are printed at Ergon Type, Oma Press and Estoprint, all of them owned by Estonians. There are also many Estonian-owned industrial and commercial establishments in Toronto. The number of Estonian physicians, engineers and other professionals is considerable.
Estonians in Southern Ontario
(Chapter 9, pp. 174-194)
Only about 100 to 150 Estonians lived in southern Ontario before World War II, most of them farmers or employed in various skilled occupations. After the war a large proportion of the new Estonian immigrants to Canada came to this area, drawn by the sponsorship of Estonians already living in the region, assistance from the Lutheran Church, job opportunities and the geographic location. Soon, however, many of them moved to Toronto where employment prospects were better. A majority of the newcomers became employed in industry or service occupations, and after a period of adjustment many of them have advanced into supervisory and managerial positions. Since the mid-1950s the Estonian population in southern Ontario has remained stable, in 1975 centred in four cities and their surrounding areas: Hamilton-Burlington, with 800 to 1,000 Estonians; Kitchener with 150 to 200; London with 200 to 250; and St. Catharines (together with Niagara Falls) with 400 to 600. After graduating, young Estonians have mostly moved away, but conversely many from elsewhere have found employment here in managerial, teaching and other positions.
In each of the four main centres an Estonian'society was founded in 1949 or 1950, leading to the development of choirs, folk dance, boy scout and girl guide troops, and various special-interest clubs. The vigorous local ethno-cultural life was often enriched by cooperative ventures with other centres including Toronto. The Ontario Estonian summer festivals from 1949 to 1952 took place in the Hamilton-St. Catharines area. Estonian congregations were also founded, except in Kitchener which joined the Estonian church in Hamilton. Supplementary schools were established in all four centres to teach children Estonian language and history; summer camps and sporting events were organized. Commemorative assemblies to mark the anniversary of the 1941 deportations from the Baltic states, held jointly with the Latvian and Lithuanian communities, and participation in local multicultural activities became regular features, A pattern of annual events took shape: Estonian Independence Day in February, Mothers' Day in May, two annual parties with comprehensive cultural program (spring and fall), a Christmas gathering and sometimes a New Year's Eve party.
In general, this pattern continues to the present day. However, the frequency of activities and the level of enthusiasm have declined noticeably, especially because young people have left the area and newcomers do not join or assume leadership roles. Still, in Hamilton - the largest centre - a rejuvenation of the leadership has taken place. The choir which claims about 30 to 40 members. In addition to sizable folk dance and scout troops and a viable veterans' association, a well-known youth choir has recently emerged. The supplementary schools continue with remarkable regularity except in Kitchener. Estonian university student associations exist in Hamilton and Waterloo, the latter uninterruptedly since 1960 despite an inevitable turnover of members every few years. The combined membership of the four Estonian societies has been about 400 to 600, the enrolment in supplementary schools from 60 to 70, with about 50 to 60 scouts and guides. The societies have libraries of several hundred voluroes each.
The collective achievement of southern Ontario Estonians has been Seedrioru, which originated as a children's summer camp. That remains its primary purpose. Having found separate summer camps impractical and expensive, the four societies jointly purchased a 62-acre farm near Elora on the-Grand River in 1955. Many years of unpaid volunteer work has resulted in the beautifully landscaped grounds, modern central hall, three camp dormitories, a sauna, an outdoor swimming pool, an open-air theatre complex and an artistically designed monument to Estonians who fell in many wars. More than 54,000 man hours of volunteer work have been devoted to the project, in addition to administrative duties. Though much was done without remuneration, funds were needed to pay the mortgage and purchase building materials. This led to the summer festivals, which have been held annually since 1956. The programs have included song festivals, folk-dance and gymnastics presentations, concerts and open-air theatre performances, among them a production of Hamlet in Estonian in 1963. Seedrioru has attained the rank of a major cultural centre. The average attendance has fluctuated between 2,000 and 3,000, including large numbers of Estonians from the United States, and a record of 8,000 was set in 1972. The proceeds have been used to retire all debts completely and to meet the operating expenses of the summer camp.
Northern Ontario and Manitoba
(Chapter 10, pp. 195-203)
The major centres of Estonian settlement in Manitoba and northern Ontario includes Winnipeg and its environs, the northern Ontario cities of Thunder Bay, Sault Ste.Marie, Sudbury, North Bay, Timmins and Kirkland Lake, and a number of smaller communities in the northern Ontario gold-mining belt. These areas offered employment primarily in agriculture (Manitoba), forestry (centered on Thunder Bay) and mining (northeastern Ontario).
The first known Estonian settler in the Winnipeg area was John Pressmann, who began farming near Portage la Prairie in 1905. A large group of single men came in 1928-29 under contract to the Canadian Pacific Railway. They were required to work for one year as farm laborers, after which they were free to find employment on their own. At the same time Hans Krime in Timmins became the first Estonian to reach northern Ontario, and was soon followed by many others.
The massive influx of Estonians to Manitoba and northern Ontario began in 1947, and was composed mostly of refugees from the displaced persons' camps in Germany. Because the Prairie provinces needed farmhands, the Estonian population in Winnipeg and vicinity quickly grew to some 200. Estonians in northern Ontario numbered about 1,800 to 2,000 in 1951. To ease the process of acclimatization and to preserve their heritage, Estonians in all of the larger centres formed Estonian associations and later other activity groups and church congregations.
The Winnipeg Estonian Society "Side" was founded in May 1929. Among its activities were a theatre circle, a folk-dance company, a male choir and a youth group. In 1969 a revitalized mixed choir came on the scene. An Estonian newspaper, the Winnipeg Estonian Reporter, began publishing in 1957 and survived for a few years.
The Port Arthur Estonian Society was founded in 1948, followed by the Port Arthur Estonian Evangelical Lutheran congregation a year later and the local mixed choir in 1950. Among other things the society oversees the activities of the supplementary and Sunday school and the folk-dance company. In cooperation with the congregation a farm property named Sillaoru was acquired in 1957. The largest event was the Central Canada Estonian Summer Festival in July 1965 with 500 participants.
The Kirkland Lake Estonian Society was formed in 1949. By 1953, the community was composed of 200 persons, principally miners and their families. The society organized interest groups in athletics, folk dance, chess and checkers and a male choir. A supplementary school and a social relief committee were also active.
The Sudbury Estonian Society was founded in January 1952, when more than 100 Estonian families lived in the city. The society has supported a supplementary school, a folk dance company and an energetic theatre group. The Sudbury Estonian Evangelical Lutheran congregation ministers to the religious needs of the community.
The Sault Ste. Marie Estonian Society was organized in October 1957. Local activities overseen by the society include a supplementary school, a folk-dance company, a mixed choir and a women's gymnastics group. The society also owns a summer campground, which was inaugurated on August 10, 1969.
Alberta and Saskatchewan
(Chapter 11, pp. 204-214)
During the years 1947-51 European refugees, including Estonians, were permitted to come to Canada under one-year labor contracts primarily in agriculture on the Prairies. Between 1948 and 1954 more than 50 Estonians came to Eckville, Alberta, and more than 60 were sponsored by Estonian settlers in the Barons area of southern Alberta. At first the new immigrants found jobs on farms owned by Estonians and in the sugar beet fields in the Lethbridge area, although many soon moved to Edmonton and Calgary.
Both Edmonton and Calgary had about 60 known Estonian residents at the end of 1949, including pre-World War II immigrants. According to the 1966 survey, there were 87 Estonians in Edmonton, while the community in Calgary had grown to 120. In the early 1950s Lehtbridge had up to 30 Estonians, Barons 50, and Eckville 80. Estonians were also found near Stettler and a few lived in the Peace River county and elsewhere. The total number of Estonians in Alberta was probably around 400.
Social contacts among Estonians shortly after their arrival in Alberta communities were very intensive and soon took on a more organized form. The Edmonton Estonian Society was founded in October 5, 1949. The society formed at Barons on August 21, 1949, had two sections, one in Barons-Lethbridge and the other Calgary. The latter became the Calgary Estonian Society in June 17, 1950.
The Medicine Valley Estonian Society, founded on April 24, 1910, near the central Alberta town of Eckville, was still active. It had been temporarily dormant from 1944-48, but the situation changed dramatically in 1948 when Estonian refugees began to arrive in Medicine Valley. Many of them joined the society and gave new life to its activities. The vitality of the 1949-56 period faded quickly as most of the newcomers and younger Estonians left for larger centres.
From 1948, the Medicine Valley Estonian Society invited Estonians from other parts of Alberta to participate in its traditional summer festival. This laid the foundation for the 1951 Alberta Estonian Festival, which became an annual event in Eckville, except for the 1954 festival held in Edmonton.
The Estonian associations of Alberta were also actively devoted to publicizing Estonian achievements through Canadian newspaper interviews and radio programs. A large-scale commemoration of Estonian Independence Day together with an exhibition took place in Edmonton on February 24, 1950. One of the most significant events in Calgary was a ceremonial assembly and concert to mark Independence Day on February 21, 1954.
In both Edmonton and Calgary Estonians have been in close contact with the local Finnish, Swedish, Lithuanian, Latvian and Polish communities, jointly organizing craft shows, festivals and social gatherings. The mass deportations from the Baltic republics have been marked by memorial assemblies sponsored by the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian communities. The largest joint event was the Baltic Festival held in Edmonton on October 6-7, 1967, which included a concert, an exhibition, a gala reception and a banquet attended by government representatives.
Estonians in Alberta have also shared in the wealth generated by the rapid economic expansion based on oil. At the beginning of the 1970s there were 13 Estonians, mostly independent entrepreneurs, in the construction and furniture sectors in Calgary, where many were also employed as engineers, technicians, draftsmen, journalists, managers and administrators. In both Calgary and Edmonton there are many Estonians on university faculties and in public service.
The educational level attained by young Estonians in Alberta has also been high. No fewer than 13 school teachers trace their ancestry to a small group of early Estonian settlers in central and northern Alberta. The percentage of university graduates has also been high in comparison with the Canadian average.
There have never been significant numbers of Estonians in Saskatchewan. The 1961 census showed 150 Estonians widely dispersed throughout the province. There are no Estonian organizations in Saskatchewan and social events take place only on a family basis.
(Chapter 12 ,pp. 215-231)
World War II had been over for more than two years when the first Estonian refugees from Communism began to arrive in British Columbia Until then there had been fewer than 100 Estonian families in the entire province. By 1951 their numbers had reached 876, growing to 1,986 in 1961. The newcomers brought new vitality to the social life of the Estonian community. As early as November 6, 1948, they formed the Vancouver Estonian Association, which united both earlier immigrants and postwar refugees. Their first major event was a gathering on Christmas Day, 1948, at Hastings Auditorium. Since then a wide variety of social events have been held at different times of the year. The commemoration of Estonian Independence Day on February 24 has become an annual tradition.
Folk-dancing, choral music, women's gymnastics, Estonian-language theatre and an Estonian supplementary school have been among the activities of the Vancouver Estonian Association and the specialized organizations that have developed under its direction. Estonians became well known in the world of sports in British Columbia when an Estonian team won the provincial championship in volleyball several times. As well, Estonians in the Pacific Coast region hold a biennial festival that brings together people from California to British Columbia and beyond. The West Coast Estonian Festival has been held in Vancouver in 1961, 1969 and 1977. Estonian-language radio programs have been produced in Vancouver on cultural and religious themes, the latter being broadcast regularly each Sunday since 1962. And together with the Latvian and Lithuanian communities, Estonians have organized political demonstrations to protest against Soviet imperialism and Communist brutality.
During the 1950s plans were made to purchase or build an Estonian house, but these did not materialize because other, perhaps more urgent projects were pursued. Estonians have been very active church builders in Vancouver. The different denominations have constructed three churches of considerable size, the most prominent being the high-roofed church at Oak Street on 49th Avenue. Most of the community's cultural activities take place in a hall adjacent to the church, which for all practical purposes is the Estonian House of Vancouver.
Because forestry is British Columbia's primary industry, it provided the first jobs for many Estonian immigrants. A large number worked as loggers on the coast and on Vancouver Island. Some bought their own power equipment, hired men to run it and worked as logging contractors for various lumber companies. A few Estonians established their own companies, selling logs and lumber. Estonian engineers took part in the design and supervision of construction of the Kemapo hydroelectric station in the early 1950s. Estonian loggers and laborers worked on clearing the power lines around Kemano and at the Kitimat townsite. Some of the loggers were later employed by an Estonian contractor to clear the forest for the power lines at Woodfibre, a gas pipeline at Hope and a railway line at Pine Pass.
More than anywhere else, the Estonians left their mark in home and apartment construction in Vancouver and Victoria. In the late 1950s there were close to 40 Estonian contractors in Vancouver. In the past two decades about 1,400 houses with a value of $29 million were built by Estonians in Vancouver. As soon as the more successful contractors had acquired the necessary working capital, they undertook larger construction projects, completing about 3,600 apartment units in Vancouver and 436 in Victoria. Also, an Estonian businessman built a motel and golf course at Pitt Meadows. The ready-mix concrete trucks one sees in Vancouver bearing the name Kask Bros, belong to a company that was established by Estonians. One Estonian formed a boat-building business whose products were widely displayed at Vancouver shows.
Many Estonians have been remarkably successful in the field of higher education. At a time when few women attended Canadian universities, Marie Gerhardt-Olly, a cofounder of York House School, completed her Masters of Philosophy at the University of British Columbia in 1932. Since then about 100 Estonians have graduated from UBC. Four professors educated in Estonia were members of the UBC faculty in 1949.
Roots of the Estonian Heritage
(Chapter 13, pp. 235-244)
By origin Estonians are a Finno-Ugric people. In actual fact, though, the Estonians of today are of mixed background like all other nationalities. Nordic characteristics predominate in the coastal and island regions, while in the interior of Estonia the population displays many eastern Baltic features. Estonians have demonstrated both at home and abroad their exceptional industry, initiative, their aspirations towards spiritual and intellectual ideals, their persistence and their sometimes excessive obstinacy.
Environmental and social factors have been far more important than genetic ones in shaping the Estonian character. It is believed that the basic determinants of Estonian character traits was their distant forebears' life in the rough environment of the forests and coasts of northern Europe. Such a milieu favored the development of industry, patience, tenacity, caution and a sense of beauty. The desire to conquer others is absent, as it is among the Finns. For this reason the more aggressive Slavic peoples have constantly expanded into the areas of the Baltic Finnic nations. At present Estonia is under Soviet occupation, which has destroyed much of its material and spiritual heritage. The survival of the Estonian people has become the primary question for all Estonians at home and abroad.
How well adjusted were the ancestors of the Estonians? Maternal love and the role of the father in shaping the intellect are strong motifs in Estonian culture. On the other hand, old documents and folk traditions show that their lives were also marked by tribulations and internal tension. The difficult external conditions of which Estonian history speaks undoubtedly influenced personal, family, and social life in the internal sense. It is difficult to say to what extent Estonian character traits have been influenced or determined by psychological factors.
A further question is what effect the immigration process exerted on Estonians in Canada. It may generally be stated that in coming to a new country, people torn from their roots are in particular need of support from their fellow countrymen, with whom they are united by many common needs and characteristics. Through mutual aid, both psychological and material, it is easier to begin life in a foreign land. Some scholars have noted that those who are supported by their own ethnic group develop better relations with the majority nationality. Because the level of social activity among Estonians in Canada has been exceptionally high, it cannot be said that Estonians have not become well integrated into Canadian life. The majority have done well financially. There are Estonian organizations which have linked them more closely with Estonian cultural, political and social activities.
The major problem facing the Estonian community is that of an aging population. Most of those who came to Canada after World War II were middle-aged and have now grown old. Their children and descendants are fewer in number and separated by distinct demographic gaps. For this reason the younger generation has not yet been able to play a major role in the life of the community. Nevertheless, the level of activity among young Estonians in the major centres is quite high. In the smaller centres across the country, though, one can detect assimilation into the mainstream of Canadian culture.
(Chapter 14, pp. 245-294)
During the first few years of Estonian immigration to Canada after World War II the centre of Estonian social and political activity was Montreal. In the early 1950s, with the massive arrival of Estonian refugees from Sweden and Germany, Toronto became the focal point of the community, which was now large enough to allow for the formation of major organizations.
The Estonian League of Northern Canada
On June 6, 1946, the Northern Ontario Estonian Brotherhood was founded in Mattawa. This political organization, later known as the Estonian League of Northern Canada, hoped to draw into its ranks a large proportion of the almost 1,000 Estonians who worked in the area. In fact, membership never exceeded 140 and activities ceased in 1952.
The Estonian Federation in Canada
In 1949 there were 15 local Estonian societies in Canada. These groups, founded by prewar immigrants, became the first centres of activity and information for the postwar refugees. In isolation these groups lacked the unity which could help their fellow Estonians who awaited a chance to emigrate from Europe, and which could be used to make Estonian concerns heard in Ottawa. It was time to fill this gap.
Aleksander Weiler, a former member of the Estonian Parliament, initiated the idea of the Estonian Federation in Canada. The goals of the new organization were wide ranging, its activities varied and essential. The federation received great numbers of inquiries about immigration to Canada. Its directors' discussions with the Department of Immigration made possible the arrival of 100 Estonian miners and 95 of their dependents from Belgium.
Through the efforts of the federation, an international precedent was set in 1951 with the establishment of an Estonian Consulate in Toronto as the diplomatic representative of the Republic of Estonia which, though under foreign occupation, was internationally recognized as independent. For technical reasons Consul Johannes E. Markus initially had to refrain from political activity. It was not until October 1962 that the status of the diplomatic representatives of the three Baltic republics improved and the consul of Estonia was included in the list of representatives of foreign countries in Canada. From then on J. E. Markus appeared at all official diplomatic receptions in Toronto as the consul of the Republic of Estonia.
On April 29, 1951, the board of representatives of the federation decided to form the Estonian Central Council in Canada (ECC) as a subsidiary organization to coordinate efforts to educate the Canadian public and municipal, provincial and the federal government about the situation in Estonia. Over time, the ECC withdrew and became an independent organization.
The 10th anniversary of the Estonian Federation in Canada was celebrated with a.meeting and reception attended by Consul J. E. Markus and representatives of many organizations. Among the achievements of its first decade were the maintaining of contacts with the federal government, fostering cooperation with Baltic and other Estonian organizations, the production of radio broadcasts to mark Estonian Independence Day, a successful campaign to reduce the waiting period before receipt of the old age pension, the holding of assemblies to mark the anniversaries of Estonian statesmen, and support for cultural activities carried out by the local societies. The federation also sent a brief to the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, in which it stressed the need for first-language education for all ethnic groups in Canada. The Canadian Estonian History Commission was established at an executive meeting of the federation on May5, 1964.
In the internal political uproar brought about by the visit of the author Rudolf Sirge from Soviet-occupied Estonia, the federation adopted the following position: "The executive of the federation and its representatives on the ECC are resolutely opposed to the contacts and meetings with the Communist writer R. Sirge which have been organized during his stay in Toronto by certain of our public figures and writers." After Sirge's visit, it seemed that the Estonian community had lost its harmony and cohesiveness. At an executive meeting on February 2,1965, H. Kullango proposed that a congress of Estonian organizations be convened to formulate new goals for the future. The executive elected by the board of representatives on January 23, 1966, decided to devote all of the federation's resources to cultural matters.
The federation continued primarily as a representative body of Estonian societies and associations from coast to coast. Separate sections or committees of the federation have developed into new independent organizations, such as the Estonian Relief Committee in Canada, the Canadian Estonian History Commission and the Estonian Central Council in Canada. The federation has also fulfilled its function in uniting Estonian cultural and social organizations, encouraging the formation of local associations in places where none exist, providing ideas and leadership for their activities, supplying speakers for ceremonial occasions, supplying materials for local cultural activities, fostering ethnic consciousness among the young, organizing joint events, cultural conferences and art exhibitions. The major achievement of 1967 was Estonian Day at Expo 67.
The Estonian Central Council in Canada
As mentioned earlier, the central Estonian organization representing the interests of Canadians of Estonian heritage was founded at a meeting of the Estonian Federation in Canada board of representatives in 1951. The federation executive proposed the necessary amendments to the federation's constitution to form the ECC in Canada. The results of the secret ballot were announced on November 10, 1951, with 22 in favor of and six opposed to the amendment. A nine-member elections committee was formed with Juhan Müller, former minister of justice of the Republic of Estonia, as chairman. The number of elected representatives to the ECC was fixed at 17. The first elections among Estonians across Canada took place in 1952 with 80 candidates. There were 33 members of the first council - 12 elected members, 12 representatives from the federation and nine ex officio members. Johan Holberg was chosen chairman. The first years of the ECC were devoted to organizational efforts in Canada and the founding of an international union of Estonian organizations, based in New York, composed of representatives from the central organizations in various countries.
The return of democracy and the end of the Soviet occupation in Estonia is among the primary goals of the ECC. During the first two years, 22 memoranda, were sent to leading Western politicians. Pamphlets and information were distributed on many occasions. In 1953-1954 the council helped gather material for the special subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives headed by Charles J. Kersten. This work included testimony from 40 Estonians, amounting to 35,000 words, which documented the forced annexation of Estonia by the Soviet Union and the crimes of the Communists in Estonia. The Council also gathered information concerning Soviet slave labor camps for presentation to the United Nations. The activities of the council in Canada have centred on bringing the plight of Estonia and Estonian concerns to the attention of Canadian leaders.
Because the ECC had become the central Estonian organization in Canada, it was decidad that it should be an independent body. At the 1954 general meeting, the ECC adopted a new constitution and withdrew from the federation. Under the new constitution the ECC was composed of 24 members elected directly by Estonians in Canada for three-year terms, six representatives from the federation and ex officio members.
With the uprising in Poland and Hungary in 1956, the ECC took part in anti-Communist campaigns and sent telegrams to the United Nations General Assembly and its leaders. Memoranda were also sent to Canadian, American, British and French leaders demanding the withdrawal of Russian troop from Hungary, Estonia and other occupied nations. On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Soviet occupation of the Baltic Republics in 1960, the Baltic Federation, composed of the ECC and the central organizations of the Latvians and Lithuanians in Canada, organized a demonstration in Ottawa and sent memoranda to Prime Minister John Diefenbaker and Opposition Leader Lester Pearson. Prime Minister Diefenbaker met with the executive of the Baltic Federation on August 5, 1960, and affirmed that Canada continues to recognize the de jure independence of the Baltic republics. This meeting had unusual reverberations. After Prime Minister Diefenbaker's speech at the UN General Assembly in the fall of 1960 in which he dealt with the subjugation of the peoples of Eastern Europe by the Soviet Union, Moscow unleashed an attack against A. Luitsalu, vice-president of the ECC, who was part of the Baltic Federation delegation to the prime minister. At the same time the Soviet press began a savage campaign against the Canadian prime minister and Estonian refugees. The ECC took the necessary steps to counter the attacks on A. Luitsalu. Information was provided to the Canadian media, and the prime minister and other government members received lengthy memoranda. As part of the counter-campaign a brochure entitled Estonia - the Forgotten Nation was distributed in Canada and elsewhere.
Since 1961 the ECC has held an annual reception marking Estonian Independence Day to promote closer ties with Canadian elected representatives and community leaders. This ceremonial occasion has become a significant event, with the number of non-Estonian guests increasing from year to year. In early 1961 the ECC established the Estonian Central Archives in Canada to assemble and preserve publications and documents of the exile period. Renamed the Estonian Central Archives in Canada in 1968, its collections totalled over 2,000 monographs and serials by 1973. It received a federal government grant of $6,000 in 1972.
During the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 the ECC sent a lengthy letter to Prime Minister Diefenbaker, which criticized the vacillating posture adopted by Canada and urged Canadian support for the resolute and determined position of the United States. Beginning in 1963, when increasing movement toward coexistence with the Soviet Union could be seen in international affairs the ECC repeatedly warned against.such a policy. Appropriate memoranda were dispatched to the Canadian prime minister and leading politicians. A letter was sent to U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson in recognition of his steadfast stand in the struggle against Communism. At the initiative of the ECC the Estonian World Council organized an international protest againt Russian occupation and the russification of Estonia.
In the cultural field, the ECC has assisted other organizations through its cultural commission. The ECC provided films on Estonian subjects which were shown to Estonian and Canadian spectators. Since 1955 an almost annual event has been the radio program Thoughts for Our Homeland, broadcast to Estonia by the Voice of America. The Estonian Central Youth Organization in Canada was established, the Estonian Film Board was founded, a Canadian branch of the World Estonian Literary Society was formed, and in cooperation with the Estonian Federation, the first Estonian National Congress in Canada was held. Between 1956 and 1962 four brochures dealing with the struggle for liberation were published. In 1965, representatives of the ECC appeared before the Royai Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, stressing the need to support multiculturalism and the cultural activities of minority groups in Canada. At a special general meeting held in February 1966 the ECC adopted a resolution in which it accentuated once again its opposition in principle to travel to occupied Estonia. The ECC gave effective support to the organizing of the Estonian Day at Expo 67.
The public relations commission of the ECC was founded in 1960. It has arranged meetings and lectures to clarify the problems caused by contacts with occupied Estonia. Considerable public attention in Canada was focused on the ECC's work in exposing the subversive activities of M. Murnikov, second secretary at the Soviet Embassy, directed against the Estonian community. Having followed Murnikov's actions closely for some time, the ECC presented a factual memorandum to External Affairs Minister Mitchell Sharp. The memorandum was acted upon, Murnikov was officially warned and soon left the country. On the 30th anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact an information package was sent to all members of Parliament and the Senate External Affairs Committee outlining the infamous agreement which formed the basis for the destruction of the independence of Estonia and the other Baltic nations.
In order to clarify Eatonian political and cultural goals, a general conference of Estonian organizations in Canada was held on October 24, 1970, in which 120 delegates from 40 organizations took part. Guidelines for future activity were adopted. The ECC has extended financial support to Estonian supplementary schools and has assisted other organizations in carrying out their programs. It has acted as an intermediary in the granting of government assistance to Estonian groups.
Estonian War Veterans
Organizations of Estonian war veterans, both independently and as part of the Estonian War Veterans League in Canada, have been active in informing Canadians of the situation in Estonia and representing the interests of Estonian war veterans in Canada. The first such association in Canada was founded in Montreal in 1952, followed by Toronto in 1953, Ottawa and Edmonton. The Estonian War Veterans League was founded by these four association in Montreal on May 29, 1954.
During the initial period, the question of pension rights for veterans received much attention. Local associations raised funds to help disabled veterans in Germany and have also assisted needy invalid veterans in Canada. The league and the associations have encouraged and supported marksmanship, especially in Montreal. In 1953 a veterans association rifle club was founded in Toronto. The veterans strive for the restoration of freedom and independence for Estonia and the Estonian people.
The Baltic Federation of Canada
Having come in large numbers to Canada, refugees from the three Baltic states began to seek ways of joining forces to make their work on behalf of Baltic independence more effective. The Baltic Federation of Canada was founded in Toronto in 1949 to advance their cause. By the following year the federation's activities had taken shape with the holding of an assembly in June to commemorate those deported to Siberia by the Communists. This large-scale act of remembrance and protest, often held at Massey Hall, has become an annual event with speakers including John G. Diefenbaker, the journalist Wilson Woodside and federal and provincial cabinet ministers. Baltic concerns have received considerable coverage in the Toronto media in connection with these memorial assemblies. The federation has issued a number of publications dealing with the fate of the Baltic states and has sent protests and memoranda to Canadian and other Western leaders. In 1961, the president of the Baltic Federation was the Estonian Harras Kullango, at whose initiative the federation established divisions in London, Hamilton, Montreal, Ottawa and Winnipeg.
The Baltic Womens' Council of Canada
The Baltic Women's Council of Canada has worked closely with the Baltic Federation since its founding in 1952. In its early years the council played a liaison role with various provincial and municipal government departments in the areas of citizenship, immigration, education and social services. Through such contacts and meetings the council was able to increase awareness of Baltic problems, promote the cause of restoring independence to the Baltic countries and distribute appropriate literature. The council has participated in arranging suitable programs for receptions at the Toronto City Hall for new Canadian citizens. It has also arranged lectures on the origins and culture of the Baltic peoples at the University of Toronto.
(Chapter 15, pp. 295-316)
The period of Estonian independence between the two World Wars provided Estonians with the knowledge and skills which they used to build a new life in Canada. Bold steps were taken to reshape the Estonian economy during independence. A land reform law divided 1,065 feudal estates into 90,000 autonomous and profitable farmsteads. Industry was reoriented to meet the needs of a small domestic market and export to the West rather than Russia. Reforms in the size of enterprises, the monetary structure, market planning, the organization of trades and professions and the social sector laid the foundation for a flourishing economy.
Most Estonians came to Canada as World War II refugees. During the period of greatest immigration in 1947-1952, most worked for a specific period on a contractual basis in less desirable occupations such as forestry and agriculture. But the relatively high level of education and experience that characterized the Estonian immigrants enabled them to quickly reach better positions. According to the 1961 census there were 18,550 persons of Estonian origin in Canada. A survey by the Estonian Canadian History Commission in 1965 showed that 14.1 percent of Estonians were professionals, a figure that greatly exceeds the Canadian average of one percent. The same survey also disclosed that Estonian-Candians enjoyed a higher than average income level.
Many Estonians were active in the construction industry. The number of Estonian contractors reached their peak in the period 1950-1960; almost 180 in the Toronto area alone. Most of them owned small businesses that could not compete with the larger companies that later came to dominate the industry. Also in the building industry were those who worked as architects, engineers and other specialists. They made a noticeable contribution to the design and construction of many building projects in Canada.
Most Estonian refugees arriving in Canada lacked capital, resources, but many were able to draw upon their practical business experience and start new enterprises. Among the first businesses established by Estonians in Canada were food processing plants and retail outlets. The products of Estonian bakeries, meat processing plants, delicatessens, pastry and cake shops have achieved recognition in the wider Canadian community. There are also two Estonian printing firms in Toronto. The number of self-employed craftsmen exceeded 50. Several Estonian insurance agencies with large clientels were established. There are real estate agencies, car dealerships and lumber yards. A number of small industrial enterprises provide employment from 10 to more than 100 workers.
A relatively large segment of educated Estonians work as professionals and many of them had to complete their university education outside of Estonia. Among the younger generation the number of physicians, lawyers and professional specialists in the technological fields are increasing rapidly.
Apart from the private sector, the Estonian community has significant common assets in the form of church buildings, chapels, community centres, clubhouses, recreational lands and summer camps. Over the years several hundred summer cottages have been built in the proximity of the summer camp sites.
Almost one-quarter of the population in Estonia had been involved in the cooperative movement. In Canada, the first Estonian cooperative ventures were undertaken by the pioneers in Alberta, who laid out their homesteads in the Medicine River Valley at Eckville, Stettler and elsewhere. As early as March 1902 a group of settlers near Sylvan Lake formed the cooperative society Farmerite Ühisus. The Medicine Valley Estonian Association, founded in 1910, was a major force in both cultural and economic activities. By the early 1920s the settlers in Alberta had established cooperatives in the areas of fire insurance, farmers' supply, animal marketing, butter production, cattle breeding, farm machinery pools, a savings and loan society and a cooperative telephone exhange.
The first cooperative in Toronto, Estonian House Co. Ltd., was chartered in 1951. Two cooperative apartment buildings, with 20 and 14 apartments respectively, were constructed in 1952 at a cost of $336,000. This pioneering venture was a remarkable accomplishment in the Estonian community, and paved the way for similar projects. On the initiative of the architect Elmar Tampõld, Estonian student organizations built a student residence named Tartu College, located near the University of Toronto, it was officially opened on September 19, 1970. This 18-storey building with 480 rooms also provides meeting rooms and social facilities for the Estonian academic community. The total cost of this project exceeded $3 million.
The idea of establishing a credit union was first raised at a meeting of the Estonian Association of Toronto on September 17, 1953. The Estonian (Toronto) Credit Union (ETCU) was incorporated on December 8, 1953, and held its first annual meeting on January 17, 1954. The board of directors was composed of noted figures in the cooperative and banking fields: Artur Ekbaum, Voldemar Ernesaks, Johannes Künnapuu, Eduard Kuutma and Hendrik Tanner. After seven years of operation, the credit union moved to spacious and modern quarters in the newly acquired Estonian House on Broadview Avenue, which was purchased through a community fundraising drive in which the credit union played a major role. The first ETCU annual report showed a membership of 248 and total deposists of $40,359. Twenty years later assets had surpassed $10 million and membership had grown to more than 5,000.
As well as being a successful financial institution, the ETCU has promoted the notion of self help through public lectures, research and various publications. Their information pamphlet Credit Union News has been published annually since 1957. In 1962 a two-year seminar course dealing with the principles of cooperation and the history of the Estonian cooperative movement was instituted. Twenty out of'30 participants graduated with a diploma. The ETCU has also supported the collection of archival materials and the publication of research materials..
Agriculture and Gardening
(Chapter 16, pp. 317-327)
Of the Estonians who came to Canada after World War II, those with an interest or background in agriculture were able to invest their savings in relatively inexpensive farmland. There are some 13 Estonian-owned farms in Alberta, 127 in Ontario - not including 43 recreational and hobby farms- and at least 20 near Vancouver in British Columbia. In the other seven provinces, there are only a few known Estonian farmers.
The 37 fruit and vegetable farms in Ontario's Niagara Peninsula are the largest concentration of Estonian farms in that province. Vegetables, strawberries and other berries are the largest crop on the smaller holdings, and the larger eight- to 12-acre farms produce peaches, cherries, peas and grapes. Of the 15 Estonian-owned farms in the mixed-farming belt in the Castleton-Morganston area, 100 miles east of Toronto, the first was established in 1952. The farms, with an average size of 100 acres, specialize in hog breeding and the production of oats, wheat and corn. Other Estonian-owned farms in Ontario produce chickens, beef cattle, sheep and vegetables, among other things. In British Columbia, the Estonian farmers in the Vancouver area bought their land in 1949-50. Those with larger properties- 40 to 60 acres- have beef and dairy cattle operations; others who hold salaried positions cultivate such crops as blueberries on smaller holdings of three to six acres.
The number of recreational farms is significant. In addition to those owned by private individuals, Estonians in Ontario have purchased property in Udora and Elora for children's summer camps, and near Port Sydney in Muskoka for a scout camp. Similar communal properties acquired in Quebec and British Columbia have become centres for cultural and recreational activities.
Many postwar Estonian immigrants with interests in gardening and agriculture were handicapped by the language barrier. As a result, the Estonian Agronomists' Association was founded in 1954 to offer assistance with a program of lectures, discussions and excursions. Similar services for Estonian gardeners are provided by the Estonian Garden Club in Toronto, founded in 1970. The Estonian newspapers Our Life and Free Estonian feature regular gardening columns. In Ontario, Estonian-owned nurseries exist in Owen Sound and Baldwin, and Estonian landscaping contractors in Toronto and elsewhere serve the local communities.
Patterns of Domestic Life
(Chapter 17, pp. 328-337)
Historically, the Estonian family has been patriarchal. The father was the head of the household, and the mother's role was to raise the children and look after household management. In recent times certain changes have taken place in this pattern. As women have become recognized as individuals working in their chosen fields, fathers have started to share more of the domestic burden. The majority of Estonian families today have few children. Those who formed the older generation in extended families before leaving Estonia generally remained with their adult children in Canada. The Estonian family structure has been increasingly influenced by the Canadian socioeconomio environment. As a result, many parents who have raised their children here and have become grandparents form their own independent households. A survey conducted by the Canadian Estonian Historical Commission shows that in 1966, 81 percent spoke Estonian at home. In the same year, about 84 percent of those born outside of Estonia understood Estonian.
The Estonians' attachment to their church has been carried into the free world. In 1960, about 85 percent of Estonians in Canada belonged to a church, most of them members of Lutheran congregations. Both Christian and secular Estonian organizations, institutions, schools and summer camps may be considered as extensions of the Estonian home in the wider sociological perspective. The mission of these organizations is to build a bridge between the old values and all that is new. Because no insurmountable problems face Estonians in adapting to Canadian society or in being accepted by it, they are in many respects more fortunate than certain other minority groups. For the most part, Estonians are widely dispersed, and do not differ from the surrounding community in appearance or behavior.
Handicrafts played an important part in home furnishing and decorating in Estonia, but in Canada this tradition continues among only half of Estonian families. The distinctively Estonian character of the home, particularly the pursuit of Estonian modes of expression and self-fulfilment, appears to be continued in Canada by only the older generation. The Estonians' European outlook on etiquette and their traditional norms of behavior are similar to those of Anglo-Saxon culture.
With the passage of time, Christian ceremonies and old Estonian folk customs have merged together to satisfy present-day emotional needs. Festivals and holidays are celebrated in the traditional way, which often differs from Canadian customs. Within the family, the most important events are confirmations and weddings, which are celebrated in the Estonian fashion. Christenings also take a traditional form. The Estonian family has successfully withstood both internal and external pressures that have been caused by living as Estonians in Anglo-Saxon or French cultural environments.
(Chapter 18, pp. 338-360)
The desire to continue their education and advance their culture is universal for emigrants and refugees from Estonia wherever they have settled. They have brought with them from their homeland a wish to be free and independent both materially and intellectually. But for those who emigrated to the empty Canadian Prairies during the turn of the century there were no schools at all. Even the government was not interested in establishing schools in sparsely populated and uninhabited areas. The Estonian settlers set about establishing schools. The local Estonian farmers who built the schoolhouse in the Medicine Valley settlement in Alberta in 1909 supplied the materials, provided the labor and named it the Estonian School. The government provided English-language teachers for this and other similarly established schools. Still, Estonian was entirely absent from the curriculum and could be learned only at home, although it predominated in the school-yard in the early years.
The situation did not change until the arrival of greater numbers of Estonians after World War I I. Wherever Estonian families gathered, one of their first concerns was to give their children Estonian-language instruction and to make them aware of their cultural heritage. This demanded extra effort on the part of the children, who as recent immigrants lacked a knowledge of English. Accordingly some attended special courses in English after regular school hours. Generally, however, Estonian youth learned English quickly. They often graduated with results that brought them coverage in Canadian daily newspapers.
Estonian church congregations were the first groups to arrange for children's activities. Some Sunday schools developed into or gave rise to Estonian supplementary schools, which in such centres as Montreal, Ottawa and Sault Ste. Marie remain closely allied with the local Estonian congregations. The Toronto supplementary school also began in 1949 under the aegis of a congregation. It was not until one year later that the organizational base was broadened and the school brought under the centralizing influence of the Estonian association. In many other centres the Estonian school began as part of the local Estonian association.
The Estonian supplementary school is an entirely new type of school that had no counterpart in independent Estonia. It has attained its present characteristics through continuous experimentation and tireless effort, and continues to develop, searching for new opportunities and taking account of new conditions and needs. The following are its salient features:
• The supplementary school is voluntary, based on the parents' moral obligation to preserve their language and cultural heritage through their descendants.
• The Estonian supplementary school strives to be an educational institution with high standards of discipline, deportment and learning, where each pupil's ability, interests and effort are respected.
• The Estonian supplementary school is a centre of ethnic education, which strives to shape its pupils so that they will be capable of acquiring, preserving and developing the riches of Estonian culture.
• While attempting to encourage pupils' interest and desire to speak Estonian and to feel part of Estonian society, the supplementary school at the same time avoids anything that might diminish their loyalty to Canada.
• For the most part, Estonian supplementary schools in Canada operate one day per week. The subjects taught are Estonian language, history, geography, music, religion and, at the high-school level, civics and folk-dancing. Estonian schools give pupils supplementary knowledge of their ancestral homeland, language and culture, hence the name "supplementary school."
• Due to the limited time available, Estonian supplementary schools have been intended from the start as an aid to the home, where a sense of ethnic duty prevails.
• The pupils' degree of fluency in Estonian varies markedly and bears no relation to their age. In recent years Estonian as a second language has been offered to those with little or no knowledge of the language. The age of the pupils is generally from 3 to 6 in the nursery school group, 7 to 13 in elementary school and 14 to 17 in high school.
• Teachers in supplementary, schools are without exception individuals who are motivated by a desire to serve their people. They carry out this work for the most part without pay or for only minimal remuneration. The majority obtained their professional education in Estonia. The number of teachers with Canadian training has begun to increase in recent years.
• Estonian supplementary schools were formed and have developed independently, without government assistance or financial aid. The same applies to the publication and purchase of text and instructional materials. The supplementary schools are financed by tuition-fees, donations from Estonian organizations and profits from school events.
Supplementary schools where instruction is given on a biweekly basis are located in Montreal, Ottawa and Sudbury. The Montreal Estonian supplementary school was founded in October 1949 as the Sunday and supplementary school of St. John's Estonian Evangelical Lutheran congregation of Montreal. The predecessor of the Ottawa Estonian supplementary school was the Sunday and supplementary school of St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran congregation of Ottawa, which commenced its activities in 1949. The Sudbury Estonian supplementary school was founded in September 1955 by the local Estonian association. The Port Arthur Estonian Sunday and supplementary school was founded in May 1952 in cooperation with the local Estonian Lutheran congregation and operated in Thunder Bay until 1966.
Estonian supplementary schools with weekly instruction are located in Hamilton, Kitchener, London, Sault Ste. Marie and Vancouver. Schools of this type formerly existed for longer or shorter periods in St. Catharines, Kirkland Lake, Ontario and Winnipeg. In Hamilton, the Hamilton Estonian Association Sunday and supplementary school commenced operation in 1949, before the local Estonian association or congregation had been founded. The Kitchener Estonian Association supplementary school was established in 1951 at the instigation of the local Estonian association. In the fall of 1959 the London Estonian Association supplementary school was founded at the initiative of the local Estonian congregation. Similarly, the Sault Ste. Marie Sunday and supplementary school was formed in early 1952 at the instigation of the local congregation. The Vancouver Estonian Association supplementary school was founded in the fall of 1950 by a group of Estonians under the sponsorship of the Vancouver Estonian Association. The Kirkland Lake Estonian supplementary school, which lasted for three years, was established in 1950 by the local Estonian association. The St. Catharines Estonian Association supplementary school was founded in 1951 and operated until 1969. The Winnipeg Estonian Sunday and supplementary school operated in the 1958-59 school year.
Thanks to the work of the Toronto Estonian supplementary school and nursery school, Estonians in Toronto are in a privileged position. The opportunities for regular instruction begin with the nursery school, continue at the elementary and high-school levels and are augmented by Estonian language courses for adults. The Toronto Estonian Association nursery school was founded on January 19, 1964. The initiative came from a group of parents who, with the help of the executive of the Estonian association, established a self-financing nursery school based on the joint efforts of parents and teachers. Some of the children attend more than once a week. The nursery school has also published textbooks. The Toronto Estonian Association supplementary school is divided into four distinct sectors: a six-year elementary school with weekly instruction, a three-year high school, Estonian language courses for adults, and a publication house for texts and books for young people. The Toronto Estonian Association supplementary school is the largest Estonian youth educational institution in the Western world and is considered to be the best-organized Estonian supplementary school, with the highest academic standards.
The elementary school sector of the Toronto Estonian supplementary school commenced in October 24, 1949, as part of St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran congregation. The high school held its first classes on October 2, 1964, and the first Estonian courses for adults were given on November 11, 1966. The publication of texts and books for young people dates back to 1965. So far eight books have been published, some of which are used in Estonian schools and homes in Canada, the United States, Australia and Sweden. In this manner, the Toronto Estonian school has reached out a helping hand to other Estonian schools and homes throughout the Western world.
Estonian Girl Guides and Boy Scouts in Canada
(Chapter 19, pp.361-382)
The Estonian Boy Scout movement was founded in 1912, followed by the Girl Guides eight years later. By the time the Soviet Union occupied Estonia and banned the organization, scouting had become very popular, with a total membership of approximately 25,000 in Estonia. When many thousands of Estonians fled to the West during World War II, among them were girl guide and boy scout leaders, who almost immediately started to reorganize. Further emigrations from these countries to other parts of the Western world resulted in the formation of new organizations in Canada, the U.S., South America, and Australia.
Many years of intensive and wide-ranging activity marked by several notable milestones have passed since 1949 when the first boy scout and girl guide troops were formed in Toronto. The movement soon gained momentum. In 1950 the first camp was held with 32 scouts and 20 guides. Soon an advisory committee for Estonian boy scouts in Canada was founded to coordinate the work of the various groups in several cities. A similar centre for the girl guides followed in 1952. In the same year Estonian parents established a sponsoring organization, the Estonian Christian Youth Relief Association, to support the various groups, provide financial assistance, and camping and other outdoor facilities. In 1953 several parcels of land near Port Sydney, Ontario, were purchased. Over the years a permanent campsite has been carved out of the wilderness and equipped with all necessary buildings. The site, known as Kotkajärve, has hosted national and international gatherings.
By late 1953, membership totalled 617 (299 guides and 318 scouts). In the following year another continuing tradition was established, that of the jamboree. More than 300 boys and leaders took part, among them 40 from the United States and 15 Finnish-Canadian scouts. The World Boy Scout Jamboree held in 1955 at Niagara-on-the Lake was a disappointment to Estonian boy scouts, whose request to participate as a unit was denied. Only five Estonians, members of Canadian boy scout troops, were officially allowed to attend. About 100 others camped outside the main gates and could only visit. The same year saw the first of many patrol leaders' courses.
In 1956 the girl guides held their first jamboree. Two years later another one was organized, the first for both scouts and guides at the same time and place. By the end of 1958 membership reached 833, including leaders.
The first central council of the Estonian Boy Scouts' Federation was established in Canada in 1954, led by Chief Scout Aksel Salumets. The location of the central council rotated next to Sweden (1957-1964), then to the United States (1964-1971) and again to Canada in 1971, when Chief Scout Gunnar Mitt took over the leadership. The Estonian Girl Guides have their own World Federation, headed by an executive council which also rotates among the various Estonian centres. It has been located in Canada since 1971 under the leadership of Chief Guide Hilja Kuutma.
The 50th anniversary of Estonian scouting was marked in 1962 by the publication of a commemorative volume in Estonian and English and the first Estonian World Jamboree, which attracted 522 scouts and 382 guides from Canada, Sweden, Germany and the United States, including representatives of Latvian, Lithuanian and Hungarian units in Canada. The membership rolls in Canada totalled 918 at the end, of 1962.
During the 1960s activity at both the grassroots and national levels was so diverse and vigorous that only some exceptional events can be highlighted. A revised scouting manual was published in 1964. Under the leadership of Scoutmaster Endel Ruberg, Estonian girl guides and boy scouts from Montreal participated in Expo '67, performing for thousands of visitors. The Canadian Ethnic Jamboree included nine notable Estonian contingents.
The next decade began as energetically as the previous one ended. The girl guides celebrated their 50th anniversary in 1970 with a world jamboree in Germany, that included 179 guides from Canada. The two following years were spent preparing for the next Estonian World Jamboree held in 1972 at Kotkajärve in conjunction with the first Estonian World Festival in Toronto and commemorating the 60th anniversary of Estonian scouting. Over 1,200 participated, the largest Estonian scouting event ever held in Canada.
Children's Summer Camps
(Chapter 20, pp. 388-401)
The need for Estonian children's camps arose after 1950 when large numbers of Estonians had arrived in Canada from Germany and Sweden. Parents wanted to give their children a chance to escape for the summer from the city. Perhaps even stronger was the wish to give the young a chance to learn Estonian in an Estonian atmosphere. As a result, small children's camps were formed in the early 1950s in many places where the Estonian population had grown to any appreciable size. Many of them soon folded due to financial difficulties, but the two largest - Joekääru near Udora and Seedrioru near Elora, both in Ontario - are still in operation.
Joekääru is owned by the Toronto Estonian Women's Association, founded in 1954. As early as 1950 the women's section of the Estonian Association of Toronto had set as its goal the organization of a children's camp. The next year a farm owned by A. Roop about 10 miles north of Barrie was rented for use as a camp. About 100 children enrolled at the camp, which used the primitive and cramped facilities for two years. It soon became apparent that the summer camp required its own permanent grounds. In early 1953 a vacant 350-acre farm in Udora, Ontario, about 50 miles north of Toronto, was purchased at the initiative of three Estonian parents, and became Joekääru. Over 100 lots were subdivided and sold for cottages, the proceeds forming the necessary working capital. The development of the property as a summer camp was chiefly carried out through the volunteer efforts of the more active and patriotic members of the Toronto community. Construction continued for several years, during which cabins and halls were built, the river was dammed to form a swimming area and in 1960-61, a track and field facility with metric dimensions was completed.
In addition to instruction in Estonian, the summer camp program includes sports, singing, folk dance and crafts. Figuratively speaking, the activities form a triangle whose three sides are physical education, development of ethnic consciousness and recreation. Every year more than 200 children have enjoyed a summer at Joekaaru. Their number rose to more than 300 in 1965-67.
The children's summer camp Seedrioru near Elora, Ontario, came into being as a joint venture of the Estonian communities in Kitchener, London, St. Catharines and Hamilton. All four centres had in the early 1950s experimented with their own summer camps, which proved to be economically unfeasible due to the small enrolments. As well, they did not provide all that was desired for the children. The idea of a joint camp arose from these disappointments. In early 1955 a systematic search for a suitable location began. The site was found that spring, but a variety of difficulties delayed its purchase until the fall. The first camp was held in the summer of 1956. Beginning with the Estonian Song Festival in the summer of 1956, every year has seen some kind of large-scale festivity whose proceeds have been used in support of the children's camp. Unlike Jõekääru, the popular impression of Seedrioru has not been that of a summer camp but rather a site for song fgstivals and open-air theatre performances. Nevertheless the principal purpose of Seedrioru has been and continues to be the summer camp. Until 1967 all construction and maintenance work was carried out by volunteers from the four communities, often in the style of barn-raising bees.
In general terms the goals of Seedrioru are to teach and preserve the Estonian language and provide sports, games and recreation. The peak year was 1968, when 145 children enrolled. The camp's distinguishing features are a modern central buiding, a war memorial set againt a natural backdrop, and the open-air, stage.
The Estonian Relief Committee in Canada
(Chapter 21, pp. 402-410)
The Estonian Relief Committee in Canada (ERC) was established on August 11, 1950, at the initiative of August Veiler, who was then chairman of the Estonian Federation of Canada. The ERC's aims were to help newly arrived Estonians in Canada obtain housing and employment; provide relief to disabled, sick, elderly and needy Estonian refugees in Germany; sponsor and aid Estonian immigration to Canada. As well, the ERC attempted unsuccessfully to send relief supplies through the International Red Cross to Estonians in their Soviet-occupied homeland and to Estonian deportees in Siberia. During its first two years of operation the ERC sent more than 50 cases of clothing valued at about $10,000 and $19.000 in monetary assistance to war-torn Europe.
When a group of disabled Estonian veterans in Germany decided to build a cooperative home, the ERC came to their assistance and has continued its financial support to the present. Twenty disabled Estonian war veterans from Germany were able to attend the 1972 Estonian World Festival in Toronto thanks to a special fundraising drive led by the ERC.
The ERC's success has in large part been due to its able chairmen and active committee members. ERG activities are manyfold and diversied. A special project, initiated by Hugo Männik, provides blind war veterans and others with tape recorded news, information services, concerts, plays and readings from Estonian literature. In 1955 Aleksander Raudsepp established a funeral expenses fund as an affiliate of the ERG.
In the same year Ene Runge began what became the most important fundraising method of the ERG: the sale of handicrafts made by the elderly and disabled. In 1956 the income from the sale of handricrafts amounted to $1,677, and by 1971 amounted to more than $27,000. Exhibitions and sales of Estonian handicrafts have been held at various community events as well as during the Metropolitan Toronto International Caravan festivals. The ERG has also raised funds through recitals, social gatherings and collection boxes with help from Estonian girl guides, and boy scouts units.
In 1959 the Committee donated $2,500 toward the purchase of the Estonian House in Toronto. Assistance has also been given over the years to the War Veterans' Association, the girl guide and boy scout movement,, supplementary schools, the young people's magazine The Torch (Tulehoidja), the publication of Estonian school textbooks and other worthy causes. The ERG was incorporated as a charitable organization in 1962.--Approximately $150,000 was raised in the 1950-1971 period for relief work.
As the Estonian community began to age, the possibility of building an Estonian rest home was discussed and the ERG started a fundraising campaign for this project. In 1967 Pastor Bruno Ederma, then chairman of the ERC, found a suitable location, an old orchard in the borough of Scarborough. This was purchased for $54,000. Alfred Sepa, who was elected chairman in 1972, continued the work of organizing the financing, planning and construction of the Estonian Home.
Student and Fraternal Organizations
(Chapter 22, pp. 411-420)
The oldest Estonian academic fraternal organization is the Estonian Students' Association, founded in 1870. The following were subsequently founded in Estonia: the Korporatsioon Fraternitas Estica (1907), Korp! Sakala (1909), Korp! Ugala (1913) and Korp! Fraternitas Liviensis (1919). In addition to students studying in the Estonian university town of Tartu, there were sizable groups of Estonian students in Riga, St. Petersburg and Moscow during the preindependence period. Korp! Vironia was founded in 1900 in Riga, followed in 1909 by the Riga Students' Association (later Liivika). In St. Petersburg the Students' Association Põhjala (1884) and Korp! Rotalia (1913) were founded. These organizations established outside Estonia transferred their activities to the University of Tartu after the founding of the independent Republic of Estonia.
After Estonia attained independence, the student population of the University of Tartu changed markedly. The majority of students were Estonians instead of Baltic Germans. Female students were able to form their own organizations. The Association of Estonian Women Students, founded in 1911, became legally incorporated in 1919. It was followed by the Association of Estonian Women Students Ilmatar (1920), the women's organizations Filiae Patriae (1920), Indla (1929), Lembela (1924) and Amicitia (1924). Other new organizations were the Estonian Students' Association Veljesto (1920), Korp! Revelia (1920), the Students' Association Raimla (1922), the Students' Association Concordia (1923) and Korp! Fraternitas Tartuensis (1929). Three fraternities for students and graduates in technical fields were Korp! Leola (1920), Korp! Tehnola (1921) and Korp! Wainla founded in 1924 in Danzig. All three were later located in Tallinn, site of the Technical University.
Although less than 10 percent of Estonians from Estonia were able to flee to the West, the percentage of those belonging to academic organizations who escaped was substantially higher. Thirty-seven percent of the members of men's organizations and 32 percent of the members of women's organizations - more than 2,700 - were able to reach the West. By the early 1950s they were divided among three countries: Sweden, the United States and Canada.
A year or more passed before the more than 600 who came to Canada could start reactivating their organizations. They formed local chapters in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver; since then, total membership in Canada has more than doubled, reaching 1,380 in 1973. During the same period, the men's organizations lost 15 percent of their numbers through death, the women's organizations only five percent due to their younger average age.
The predominant choice of technical fields of study during the first years in Canada was probably influenced by the experience of postwar refugee engineers who had no difficulty in finding work in their field. According to, statistics for the period 1957-58 to 1965-66, the proportion of Estonians in Toronto attending university was one in 45, compared with the average for the entire population of Toronto of one in 100. About 50 percent of Estonian-Canadian students have joined an Estonian fraternity. The total number of graduates up to 1970 was about 1,000. A doctorate was achieved by 22 Estonians at Canadian universities by 1970. During this period there were 29 members of the Estonian student fraternities in Canada with doctoral degrees, some obtained at universities in the United States.
At first the fraternities lacked proper meeting facilities. A few had bought houses by the 1960s. The completion of Tartu College in Toronto in 1970 largely solved the problem of finding space. The lower level of the 18-storey building is dedicated for use by the fraternities. The College attracts attention as a significant building but for the fraternities it is a unifying centre for the academic community and symbol of Estonian higher education and culture.
(Chapter 23, pp. 421-445)
There were too few Estonian immigrants to Canada at the turn of the century to organize proper congregations. It was not until the massive postwar immigration that larger congregations were established. The congregations of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada belong to three different synods, which at first hindered cooperation. The Lutheran Council of Greater Toronto was formed in 1965 to promote better cooperation. Under the direction of Pastor Bruno Ederma, an association of Estonian clergymen in Toronto was founded in 1968. The congregations are also full members of the worldwide Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church, headed by an archbishop and consistory. In true ecumenical spirit they have often shared their facilities with other denominations. Four Lutheran congregations own their own church buildings, two of them in Toronto, one in Montreal and one in Vancouver. The others either rent facilities or share churches bought jointly with other congregations.
In Toronto, St. Peter's Estonian Evangelical Lutheran congregation, with 4,000 members the largest Estonian congregation in the free world, was founded on August 3, 1948, by Pastor Rudolf Kiviranna. Pastor Oskar Puhm has been the minister since October 31, 1948. The congregation soon built its own church, which was consecrated on September 25, 1955, by Dean Valter Viks. St. John's Estonian Evangelical Lutheran congregation of Montreal was founded on January 9, 1949, by Pastor Karl Raudsepp. On November 7, 1954, the congregation purchased a church buiding at 4345 Marcil Ave. St. Andrew's Estonian Evangelical Lutheran congregation of Toronto was established by Pastor Karl Raudsepp on May 20, 1949. Pastor Otmar Pello was chosen pastor of the congregation in 1950. A church was bought jointly with a Latvian Lutheran congregation in 1951. Pastor Pello died on November 4, 1971, and was succeeded by Pastor Andres Taul on March 19, 1972. St. Paul's Estonian Evangelical Lutheran congregation of St. Catharines was founded on September 30, 1949. For 10 years the congregation was led by Pastor Ernst Lootsma who was succeeded in 1959 by Pastor Oskar Gnadenteich. St. Paul's Estonian Evangelical Lutheran congregation of London was established on May 28, 1950. Pastor Ernst Lootsma was chosen the first minister. The congregation included Estonians living in Sarnia and St. Thomas. Pastor Oskar,Gnadenteich has served the congregation since 1959. St. Peter's Estonian Evangelical Lutheran congregation of Vancouver was founded in July 1950 by Dean Manivald Heinam. In 1954 the congregation increased with the addition of Estonians from Victoria. In cooperation with the Estonian Orthodox congregation, led since its inception by Dr. Eugen Ruus, the construction of a new church was begun in 1963. Dean Heinam served the congregation for 13 years, being succeeded on his retirement by Pastor Helmut Piir. Dean Heinam died on May 30, 1969.
St. Paul's Estonian Evangelical Lutheran congregation ofOttawa was founded by Pastor Johan Teras on May 13, 1951. After his departure to Toronto the congregation was led by Pastor Gnadenteich. Services are held in rented church facilities. The Estonian Evangelical Lutheran congregation of Hamilton was founded on July 1, 1951, at which time Pastor August Kivisikk was elected pastor. The minister of the Hamilton congregation also serves the Estonian communities of Kitchener and Welland. St. Jacob's Estonian Evangelical Lutheran congregation of Toronto was founded on October 21, 1951, by Pastor August Raidur. The Estonian Evangelical Lutheran congregation of Saul Ste. Marie was founded on October 21, 1951, by Pastor Elmar Petersoo, who after 1957 also ministered to the Estonian congregations of Port Arthur and Sudbury. After Pastor Petersoo's death on Nov. 6, 1968, Pastor Tonis Nõmmik was chosen to succeed him. The Estonian Evangelical Lutheran congregation of Thunder Bay was founded on September 14, 1952, by Pastor Rudolf Reinaru, who served until May 1957. Pastor Petersoo led the congregation from May 1957 until his death, being succeeded by Pastor Nõmmik. The congregation worships in rented facilities.
The Estonian Evangelical Lutheran congregation of Sudbury was formed on October 19, 1952, by Pastor Reinaru. As it is too small to support a full-time pastor, it is served by visiting ministers. Trinity Estonian Evangelical Lutheran congregation in Toronto was founded on November 9, 1952, by Pastor Johan Teras, who served as pastor until he moved to the United States in 1962. The congregation chose Pastor Gnadenteich to be the new pastor. The First Estonian Evangelical Lutheran congregation of Winnipeg was formed in 1952. Due to its small membership the congregation could not support its own pastor. It has been served by Pastors Raudsepp, Reinaru, Piir, S. E. Lind and Leo Leiv. St. Paul's Estonian Evangelical Lutheran congregation of Montreal was founded on October 17, 1954, with Pastor Gnadenteich's assistance. He has served the needs of this congregation up to the present. Worship services have also been held by various ministers in such places as Timmins, Kirkland Lake, Mattawa and North Bay.
Of Orthodox Congregations, the Estonian Orthodox congregation of Toronto was established on February 9, 1952, by Priest Emanuel Lepik. It was officially incorporated on April 27, 1952. At first the congregation had trouble finding facilities for worship, but this problem was solved in 1955 with the completion of St. Peter's Church, where the congregation has worshipped ever since. In 1971 the Metropolitan of the Estonian Orthodox Church elevated Priest Lepik to the position of dean for Canada, the United States and Australia. The Estonian Orthodox Church established a mission post with Priest Mihkel Ervart in Montreal on November 28, 1954. Divine worship has been led by Priest Egon Vellesoo from Toronto. The Vancouver Orthodox congregation has been served by Dr. Ruus.
Of evangelical congregations, the Estonian Baptist congregation of Toronto was established on June 26, 1949. Rev. Kaljo Raid has been minister since 1954. The congregation built a new church on Broadview Ave., near the Estonian House, in 1963. The Estonian Free congregation was formed in November 1949 at the initiative of K. L. Marley, who served as preacher until 1960, being succeeded by Edmund Saraoja. The congregation has its own church on Jones Ave. The Estonian Pentecostal congregation of Toronto was formed in 1952. In 1969 the congregation merged with other evangelical congregations and the Second Baptist congregation to form a new Estonian Evangelical congregation which is served by H. Soderholm. The Estonian Seventh-Day Adventists of Toronto were first organized by Pastor Eduard Mägi on December 1, 1951, becoming a full congregation on December 15, 1956.
In Vancouver, the first Estonian evangelical service in Vancouver was held on Good Friday, 1949, by Pastor Osvald Õunpuu and soon a 16-member Estonian Religious Alliance was formed. After incorporation it became the Vancouver Estonian United congregation, which on December 23, 1956, consecrated its newly built church. The Estonian Evangelical Alliance commenced activities with the publication of a religious bulletin. A modern church and radio studio were inaugurated in 1966. The first pastor of the Estonian Pentecostal Congregation of Vancouver was Albert Olema. At present the church's activities are directed by I. Avik. Services are held in the Finnish chapel.
There are other evangelical groups in Canadian centres, but they are too small to have formed independent congregations. Instead, they are affiliated with Estonian congregations in Toronto or Vancouver, or worship with local English or Finnish-language congregations.
(Chapter 24, pp. 446-467)
The first book in Estonian still extant, a collection of religious texts, was printed in 1525. Since then Estonian literature has developed through many stages, achieving its highest standards during the country's independence when the arts progressed rapidly. State support led to better working conditions for writers and an extensive system of public libraries - totalling 780 by 1939-made books accessible to all readers. Indeed, books were so popular im Estonia that even the earliest Estonian settlers,in Alberta founded libraries with books sent from their homeland.
After World War II more than 60,000 Estonian refugees found new homes in the Western world. Their ranks included a dozen well-known Estonian authors. Because the refugees were unable to bring many books with them, they reprinted the major prewar works. New refugee poetry and fiction dealt with the recent crisis and surrounding events. The distribution of Estonian-language books was relatively high with an average press run of 2,000 to 4,000 copies. The publishing house Orto, similar to a book club, was founded in 1946 in Sweden, which then had an Estonian population of about 25,000. In one year it published 25 titles, some of them reprints, others new works. In 1951 the company was transferred by its owner, Andres Laur, to Toronto, where it acquired a printing plant and adjoining offices. More than 4,000 copies of each monthly selection were printed and sent to Estonian communities throughout the world. As well, Orto arranged literary competitions to uncover new talents, which led to three names being added to the list of published authors during one successful year. Orto also published the family magazine The Hearth (Kodukolle) in 1951-1954 and the semiweekly newspaper Free Estonian from 1952. The latter continues under new management. When the Estonian Writers' Cooperative was fonuded in Sweden at the end of 1951 in an effort to raise literary standards, the importance of Orto began to decline. It closed in 1973 after Laur's death. During 23 years of activity Orto published a total of 400 titles, including many monumental works such as two editions of the Estonian epic poem Kalevipoeg, an illustrated family Bible and a major Estonian dictionary. Two other Estonian publishers in Toronto, Estoprint and the Estonian Publishing Company, have produced a total of some 15 titles, the majority of these fiction.
Literary circles were formed in many Estonian communities across Canada. The Estonian Cultural Foundation in Canada, established in 1970, has intensified activities in many fields, organizing book exhibits and awarding an annual prize for the highest achievement in arts and letters.
Most well-known Estonian authors live in Sweden. Still, in Canada there are 36 writers who have published at least one book, 31 of them having made their debut in the postwar period. Of Estonian authors in Canada, Arved Viirlaid has written many full-length novels describing the last phases of the war in Estonia and partisan resistance to the Soviet occupation. His storytelling talent has made his patriotic novels popular. Some have been translated into numerous other languages, including his 1952 work Graves Without Crosses. Viirlaid is also a noted poet. Salme Ekbaum, the prolific author of 14 books, describes in her best novels life on Estonian farms during the horrifying years of Russian occupation. Some of her other works analyze the problems of refugee life in Canada. Aino Thoen has written four novels on topical subjects. Arvi Kork writes in the picaresque genre. In his first novel The Four Musketeers (1957), four disillusioned young soldiers exploit all available opportunities in Germany. Succeeding works follow their fortunes in Canada. Later the author has turned his attention to the everyday work of the police.
Four gifted poets are best known. Hannes Oja has published three collections of highly polished verse analyzing different aspects of life in exile. Urve Karuks has grown up in exile but her knowledge of Estonian is remarkable. Her first book of poetry, Clay (1968), reflects the disenchanted views of the younger generation but without bitterness. Harri Asi and Eduard Krants have produced collections of what might be termed soldiers' poetry, full of pathos and robust pictures of everyday life. Of playwrights, Ilmar Külvet has written four plays dealing with the trials of refugee life in Canada.
During the peak of Estonian literary productivity in Canada between 1963 and 1968, a total of seven works were published each year by Canadian Estonian authors.
The Estonian Press in Canada
(Chapter 25, pp. 468-476)
The Estonian population in Canada prior to World War II was so small that there was no need to establish an Estonian newspaper. The situation changed markedly after the war with the arrival of thousands of Estonian refugees who began to organize cultural, social and religious activities. They needed an Estonian-language press to improve contacts among themselves.
The first Estonian publication in Canada was the Weekly Newspaper (Nädalaleht), a small mimeographed paper in Rolphton, Ontario, edited by Edgar Väär, which appeared regularly each week during the spring and summer of 1949. It ceased publication as Toronto became the largest centre of Estonian life in Canada. At first the need for an Estonian newspaper in Toronto was filled by the Estonian page edited by Pastor Oskar Puhm in the church publication The Lutheran in Canada. March 22, 1950, marked a major step forward with the establishment in Toronto of the Estonian weekly Our Life by Aleksander Weiler, with Siegfrid Veidenbaum as editor-in-chief and Endel Kareda as editor. In 1951 Heino Rebane and Enn Salurand joined the staff of the paper; the latter left in 1971. The semiweekly newspaper Free Estonian was founded in 1952 by Andres Laur, owner of the Orto publishing house. Karl Arro was appointed to head the editorial staff, with Karl Eerme and later Ilmar Külvet assisting. At the end of 1964 A. Laur sold the newspaper to the Free Estonian Publishing Company Ltd. headed by Antoni Truuvert, with an editorial staff composed of K. Arro, Heino Jõe and I. Külvet. The latter two were later replaced by Vally Voitk, with K. Arro becoming editor-in-chief.
There have been many attempts to publish Estonian magazines in Toronto but most of them have failed due to financial problems. The women's magazine Triinu is published regularly four times a year. The literary and cultural journal The Spell (Mana), edited in the U.S., is published irregularly. Toronto also has an Estonian political magazine: The Nationalist (Rahvuslane). Many religious publications and magazines of the various congregations have been published over the years and continue to exist.
Estonian journalists joined the Canadian Ethnic Press Federation in 1964, which enabled them to establish closer contacts with Canadian political parties and government officials and thus bring Estonian concerns to the attention of the Canadian public. Estonian journalists of the younger generation, having obtained their education here, are employed for the most part by the English language media.
(Chapter 26, pp. 477-500)
Although there were a number of university graduates among earlier Estonian immigrants to Alberta and elsewhere, this statistical summary of higher education of Estonians in Canada begins in 1948 with three postwar refugees who came here under labor contracts and went on to obtain a university education. Over the years, the number of Estonians studying at Canadian universities has grown 100 times larger. In compiling the summary, data from 10 universities was available. According to information from the University of Toronto, about one-half of all Canadian students of Estonian origin have attended that institution.
During the past two decades the ratio between the number of graduating with their first academic degree and the total full-time student enrolment across Canada has remained constant at about 1:5.3. In Ontario the ratio is 1:5, true also for Estonian students and graduates. According to the 1961 census there were 18,550 Estonians in Canada. Of this total, 13,106 lived in Ontario, 1,546 in Quebec, 1,986 in British Columbia and 1,912 elsewhere in Canada, chiefly in Alberta. In compiling the statistical tables it has been assumed that after 1961 the geographical distribution of Estonians has not changed significantly.
Figure 1 gives an overview of the total number of Estonian full-time university students in Canada for the period 1948-1972. The ratio of Estonians to the overall Canadian population - about 1:1,000 - provides a useful comparison with the number of Estonians who graduated from university. From the mid-1950s on for about 10 years the proportion of Estonians who obtained degrees was markedly higher than among the general Canadian population, but by the early 1970s it had declined to roughly the same level.
Table 1 provides figures for the total number of Estonian graduates from all universities, broken down by faculty. From 1950 to 1972 there were 969 graduates, 528 of them in arts or science. The 196 with degrees in engineering represent 20.2 percent of all Estonian graduates, more than three times greater than the proportion of engineers among all university graduates in Canada. During the same period, 143 Estonians obtained a Masters degree and 27 received a Ph.D.
Table 2 gives data about Estonian graduates broken down by discipline and university. The predominance of Estonian graduates from the University of Toronto is clearly shown by 'he 651 degrees of a total 1,300. The University of British Columbia is second, McGill University in Montreal third and McMaster University fourth.
Figure 2 interprets the data in Table 2. Engineering was extremely popular in the 1950s, surpassing the arts and sciences throughout the decade. It was not until 1960-61 that the latter fields took a substantial lead. Figure 3 gives a graphic overview of the total Estonian enrolment between 1948-49 and 1971-72, with separate graphs for the three major geographic regions. Figure 4 represents the age distribution of Estonians in Canada, based on figures from the 1961 census and from the largest Estonian congregations in Canada, as compared to the general population pyramid. Figure 5 gives the comparative figures for 1971.
Estonian immigrants arrived in Canada in large numbers in 1951 and 1952. At that time, the percentage of Estonians attending university was equal to the overall Canadian figures. A dozen years later, however, the corresponding percentage among Estonians was more than three times higher than the national average, as can be seen from Figure 6. For men between the ages of 18 and 21 in 1951-52 the percentage attending university was 11.7. By 1967-68 it had risen to 24.5 percent. For women the corresponding figures were 3.2 percent and 11.9 percent.
In terms of academic standing, the average marks obtained by Estonian students in 1954 were equal to the overall average. For the early immigrants, though, their lack of knowledge of English was a challenge. Still, for the first four years the marks obtained by Estonian students in engineering in Toronto were not at the class average, but in the top third. It should also be noted that the educational background of the recent immigrants was different from that of their classmates.
Student associations were founded wherever there were large numbers of Estonian students. The Estonian Students Association of Toronto, founded in 1949, marked its 20th aniversary in 1969. Its major function in the early years was to help students overcome problems of language and culture shock, and provide economic assistance in the form of student loans. In later years a lively range of social activities was developed, along with lecture series and courses in Estonian.
The founding of Tartu College merits its own chapter in the history of Estonian academic life in Canada. Inaugurated in September 1970, this 18-storey student residence adjacent to the University of Toronto campus has done much more than simply provide accommodation for many Estonian students. In fact, the entire lower level has been devoted to Estonian academic and scholarly activities. Tartu Institute was founded as a complementary organization for the advancement of teaching and research on Estonia and Estonian topics.
Up to the time of this article, Estonian students and academics in Canada have not demonstrated any particular concentration on Estonian themes in their choice of subjects and areas for research. At the University of Toronto only one Masters thesis that substantially treated events in Estonian history has been defended. An exception can be found in the receptiveness of the French-language University of Montreal to dissertations on Estonian topics. From 1955 to 1961 Dr. Alfred Kurlents was the lecturer in Estonian language and literature there. During those years three Masters and two doctoral theses were completed. The publications of the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies (AABS), founded in 1970 and noted for its series of congresses, provide an overview of scholarly activity on Baltic subjects.
The available statistics on graduate degrees is incomplete. The data shown in Figure 7 is confined to holders of Masters and doctoral degrees without regard to discipline. Physicians, though they are doctors of medicine, are placed in a separate summary. Those who hold both Masters and doctoral degrees have been included only in the doctoral category. Figure 7 provides a summary of the cumulative growth of Masters and doctoral degrees up to the summer of 1972. In 1972, Estonians in Canada had achieved 163 Masters degrees and 78 doctorates. Between 1972 - the cutoff date for data - and the publication of this work it is quite conceivable that eight graduate students may have completed their dissertations and thereby raised the number of doctoral degree holders to about 100. On the same basis, the number of Masters degree holders may have surpassed 200. Popular fields of study in the Masters programs are M.B.A. (business administration), M.L.S. (library science) and M.S.W. (social work).
Seventy-five Estonian physicians are listed, 26 in Toronto and 17 elsewhere in Ontario. There are 22 university faculty members, starting from the level of lecturer. Of these, 15 are faculty members at the University of Toronto. Medicine, architecture, engineering and physical education are strongly represented.
Fig.1. Full-time university students and graduates.
Fig.2. Estonian graduates 1950-1972.
Table 1. Estonians' degrees 1950-1972.
Table 2. Estonians' degrees by university.
Full-time university students 1948/49 - 1971/72.
(Chapter 27, 501-522)
The influx of Estonians to Canada during the years after World War II allowed theatre to flourish as a cultural activity. Many well-known Estonian actors came to Canada, primarily settling in two centres, Toronto and Montreal. In the fall of 1949 the Estonian Association of Toronto, in order to foster new talent, organized the first training course for actors under the direction of Rein Andre, who produced two short plays staged at the end of the course. In the winter of that same year the Estonian actors who had come to Toronto formed the Estonian Actors in Canada. This marked the beginning of professional Estonian theatre in Canada. The new company gave its inaugural performance on March 26, 1950, at the Polish Hall in Toronto, staging Gert Helbemäe's play If I Were a Songbird (Oleksjn laululind).
The Estonian National Theatre in Canada, which has become tne most prolific Estonian exile theatre company in the world, was founded in Toronto on November 4, 1951. The founding members were Rein Andre, Valve Andre, Kaarel Söödor, Marta Söödor, Malle Suurallik, Arvo Vabamäe, Elma Vabamäe and Lydia Vohu. The number of members, which was eight at the start, had grown to 23 by 1965. For its opening production the new company chose Bernard Kangro's three-act play The Bird Garden, which premiered on December 25, 1951, in Toronto and was produced by Kaarel Söödor. In the period 1951-72 the Estonian National Theatre in Canada staged 60 different plays as well as repeat performances in Toronto and guest performances in Montreal, Hamilton, St. Catharines, New York, Chicago and Lakewood, New Jersey. By 1968 - the 50th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia - the company's performances had been attended by a total of more than 50,000 spectators. Its greatest triumph was the premiere performance of Hamlet in Estonian, staged at the outdoor theatre at Seedrioru, Ontario, on June 29, 1963, in front of 2,144 spectators.
In late 1971 the Estonian National Theatre in Canada split into two companies. Continuing under the former name was a group composed of R. Reinik, R. Andre and R. Lipp. Ain Söödor headed the Estonian National Theatre, which gave its first performance on January 22, 1972. As well, during the years that the Estonian National Theatre in Canada was active several Estonian companies elsewhere in Canada staged productions. As early as April 1, 1951, Riina Reinik and Rudolf Lipp, formerly of the Estonia Theatre in Tallinn, staged Niewiarowicz's comedy I Love You in Montreal. Shortly thereafter the Montreal Estonian Theatre was formed. It created great excitement with its production of Priit Ardna's operetta The Fishermaiden. The Eaton Auditorium was sold out for the play's Toronto premiere on September 20, 1952. The play was also staged in Hamilton, Montreal and New York to sold-out houses. With the departure of the actors R. Lipp and R. Reinik for Toronto, Montreal theatre activity ceased in 1956 and became focused in Toronto.
Rein Andre, who had left the Estonian National Theatre in Canada in the interim, founded the Rein Andre Studio In Toronto. From 1957 the company appeared under the name of the Rein Andre Studio Theatre. Although major emphasis was on helping young actors develop their talents, it also staged new plays. During eight years R. Andre produced 15 original plays, all of them staged in Toronto. The company's 1958 production of Life and Love went on a 10,000-mile tour of North America with 11 performances. The company undertook a major tour of Europe in the summer of 1962 which marked the end of its activity.
The tradition of outdoor performances, dating back to the period of independence, was revived with the production of Henrik Visnapuu's For the Nation's Freedom, staged at the Southern Ontario Estonian Summer Festival at Seedrioru on July 2, 1960. The producer, R. Lipp, later staged Aino Kallas's The Wolf's Bride, one year later at Seedrioru, which was the setting for several other outdoor productions. In 1968 a gala production of August Gailit's Our Fathers' Land was staged by R. Reinik and R. Lipp at Horseshoe Valley near Barrie, Ontario. Outdoor performances have also taken place at the Kivioja farm near Uxbridge, Ontario, owned by L. Kõva.
Estonian theatre life in Canada has been enriched by a series of. guest performances by the New York Estonian Theatre and three performances of the one-man theatre presentations by Aario A. Marist from Paris. At various times the writer and actress Asta Willmann has toured Estonian centres in Canada with her one-woman theatre productions. Children's and youth theatre productions have been staged on a limited scale by the Estonian supplementary schools in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal and by Sunday schools.
In addition to Toronto and Montreal, other larger Estonian centres in Canada have mounted performances. A theatre guild formed as part of the St. Catharines Estonian Association in 1954 was active until 1957 under the direction of Milli Borgström. Two plays were staged and guest performances given in Toronto and Kitchener. Shorter programs were presented at social gatherings. The Lakehead Estonian Theatre Company was founded in Port Arthur on January 27, 1953. Elsa Jaako produced two plays in Port Arthur as well as two children's plays. The Sudbury Estonian Society Theatre Company was founded in 1963 and staged three productions. The Winnipeg Estonian Society Theatre Company staged three plays (1959-1963), as well as two guest performances in Port Arthur.
The Theatre and Literary Guild of the Vancouver Estonian Society was established in 1950 and has since developed into one of the most energetic amateur theatre companies. Performances have been given once or twice a year, together with guest performances in U.S. West Coast cities. During generation such as Roman Toi, Udo Kasemets, Kaljo Raid and Lembit Avesson obtained part of their musical education in independent Estonia. They have composed works ranging from solo voice compositions to symphonic creations, often based on works by exiled Estonian poets. Over the years many young musicians have also made a name for themselves, some as composers.
The Fine Arts
(Chapter 29, pp. 532-539)
Those Estonian artists who pursue their creative endeavors outside Estonia form a unique mosaic of talents. Common to all of them is their fate as political exiles and their ethnic consciousness.
The first postwar exhibit of Estonian art in North America took place at the initiative of the Montreal Estonian Society from January 8-13, 1951. Seventy five works by 17 artists were displayed. In Toronto, the first comprehensive Estonian art exhibit took place under the auspices of the publishing house Orto from January 27 to February 10, 1952. The displayed works were taken primarily from the private collections of Orto owner Andres Laur and Richard Antik, former director of the archives and library of the Estonian Folk Museum in Tartu. The exhibit encompassed 118 works, mafnly from the prewar period, by 32 artists.
By the 1950s Estonian artists had established themselves in several centres across Canada, and many of them have continued their creative work to this day. In Toronto, Estonian artists have formed two groups that have complemented one another. The League of Estonian Artists is oriented largely toward fostering the creative efforts of Estonian artists and exhibiting their works to the Estonian public. The second organization, the Colour and Form Society, organized and directed largely by Estonians, is cosmopolitan in membership, contemporary in artistic orientation and focused primarily toward the wider Canadian public.
The one-man exhibitions mounted by Toronto artists have served two different purposes. Directed chiefly at the Estonian market and often serving merely commercial ends, they have at the same time traced the artists' development A different direction has been taken by exhibits at established private galleries, where the economic motive is supplemented by a desire to gain recognition from the Canadian public and art critics. The Estonian artist and commentator Eric Pehap, who travelled widely and was able to observe Estonian cultural activity in many countries, noted in 1969 that "the group of artists in Toronto is unique and certainly the most active and strongest in the whole world outside our homeland."
Soon after the exhibition organized by Orto, the newspaper Our Life in February 1952 established a permanent sales display of Estonian art, as well as making its premises available for meetings. It was not until 1954 that a more permanent and broader forum for Estonian artists came about in conjunction with the Toronto Estonian Association, whose president Hans Lupp organized a meeting of artists to arrange an art exhibit for the cultural sector of the association. It took place from April 29 to May 2, 1954, at St. Andrew's Church with 73 works by 20 artists and almost 600 visitors. This was the first community organized survey exhibition of works by Estonian artists in Canada. A second, similar exhibition was held the following spring and a third in 1956 at the same location.
With lesser degree of vitality and energy such exhibitions could have continued to be organized by the cultural sector of the association, but in fact there was enough energy to found an independent organization. This came about on April 15, 1956, with the founding of the Estonian Art Club in Toronto (later renamed the League of Estonian Artists in Toronto). Right from the start the organization augmented the existing spring exhibition with its first annual exhibition, which took place in November 1956 in the parish hall of the newly completed St. Peter's Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church.
In addition to the annual general exhibition, the league has organized and helped arrange numerous artistic events in Toronto and elsewhere in Canada and the U.S.A., including exhibitions at the Estonian World Festival in 1972 and exhibits in Montreal, Port Arthur, New York, Buffalo, Detroit, and at the art gallery of the University of Uppsala. The league also mounted a comprehensive commemorative exhibition in spring 1968 in Toronto under the title "Estonian art during 50 years, 1918-1968" which also took place at St. Peter's Church. Also in Toronto, Richard Antik widened his artistic endeavors in early 1967 with the opening of an impressive downtown gallery. At the same time Juhan Käis opened his International Gallery in Toronto with an exhibition of contemporary art and works by Estonian artists. Another gallery owned by Estonians is the Gallery Esthec, founded in 1970 by Urve Karuks and Maret Rasins.
After the first dynamic initiative in 1951, the next Montreal exhibition took place in December 1961 in the parish hall of St. John's Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church. The exhibition became a Christmas tradition that continues to this day. As well, in spring, 1967 the artist Marino Alt opened his studio and gallery in Montreal with a permanent exhibition of works by himself and other Estonian artists.
Estonians in exile have given solid support to the creative endeavors of Estonian artists. The majority of homes are graced by the works of several Estonians artists and some individuals own large collections. And despite the assimilating influence of Canadian society, Estonian art will remain distinctively Estonian for some lime to come thanks to a supportive and active younger generation.
(Chapter 30, pp. 540-560)
Even before World War I the early Estonian pioneers in Alberta devoted part of their limited leisure time to athletic activities. Organized sports began in 1912 when the Stettler Estonian Association formed a soccer team. Basketball and baseball were also popular among its members.
After World War II, the increased flow of Estonian immigrants to Canada allowed for a wider range of athletics. In late 1948 the Estonia volleyball team was formed in Toronto. In the following year a group of avid Estonian athletes joined forces with the Latvian community to establish a volleyball club under the auspices of the Central YMCA. At about the same time Estonian women's gymnastics and women's volleyball groups were formed under the YMCA.
The early 1950s was a period of rapid expansion as athletic groups were formed. May 1951 saw the founding of the Estonian Athletic Association Kalev in Toronto. Before long its members took part in a wide variety of sports and over the years Kalev became the largest and most active Estonian sports club in Canada.
In Montreal, an athletic club and a chess club were established and Estonian communities in Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Kirkland Lake and Port Arthur were also active, especially in volleyball. As well, intensive athletic programs have been part of the daily routine at Estonian boy scout jamborees and summer camps, especially at the Estonian children camp Joekaaru at Udora, Ontario, where the Estonian community built a track and field facility that has hosted major competitions involving Canada's top athletes.
In individual events, Estonian athletes have been very successful in track and field. Since 1951 several Estonians were among the leading track stars in Canada. The most outstanding of them was miler Ergas Leps, who represented Canada at the Rome and Tokyo Olympics, the Commonwealth Games in Kingston, Jamaica, and many national competitions. Both Hans Moks (javelin) and Ain Roost (discus and javelin) were members of the Canadian contingent at several international meets. Among the ranks of Canadian champions and record-holders over the years have been Valdu Lillakas and Adrian Väli.
In swimming, two Estonians in Canada have achieved world-class standing. Toomas Arusoo from Montreal swam for Canada at the Commonwealth Games in Kingston, Jamaica (where he won a bronze medal) and Edinburgh (one gold and one silver), the Pan-American Games in Winnipeg (one silver) and the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. The other outstanding Estonian swimmer, Robert Krull from Winnipeg, held several Canadian records. Swimming is very popular among young Estonians, many of whom have placed first at Ontario championships,school meets and club competitions. Much of this success has been due to the efforts of the Toronto Kalev swim-team trainers.
The most successful team sport among Estonian Canadians has been volleyball. The Toronto Central YMCA team, whose members were mostly Estonians, won the Ontario title 13 times and took first place at eight Canadian national tournaments. Many Estonian athletes have been members of the Canadian volleyball team at international events, including the Pan-American Games. In women's volleyball, the Montreal Estonian Sports Club and the Toronto Kalev teams have repeatedly placed first at national tournaments. Estonian men's teams have also done well in basketball, which during the 1950s and 1960s was very popular among Estonian athletes in Toronto and to a lesser extent in Montreal. The Kalev team, formed in 1953, attained varying degrees of success in Toronto league competition. Basketball players of Estonian background have also been out-standing in high-school leagues in Toronto. In addition, Canadian Estonians have participated in Baltic tournaments and competed against Estonian teams in the United States.
Only the Toronto Estonian community has been active in competitive soccer. The Kalev team joined the city youth league in 1952 and placed first. Later, the Estonian soccer players competed under the name Estonia and won three league titles and other honors.
Another popular sport among Canadian Estonians is tennis. Local Estonian tournaments have been held regularly in Toronto and Montreal, and a few tennis players have placed well at Canadian tournaments. Since 1965, a Baltic tournament has been held in Toronto, where Estonians have ranked high. Perhaps the most outstanding achievement has been the victory in her age class of 12-year-old Karin Lukk from Alberta in the Canadian national tournament.
Several Estonian wrestlers and boxers have achieved distinction as members of Canadian teams. The foremost wrestler has been Arvo Vahtra of the Toronto YMCA, who between 1962 and 1966 won seven Canadian championships in both freestyle and Greco-Roman categories. His teammate Felix Parum won the Canadian title in the heavyweight freestyle event in 1963.
The winter sport with the widest following among Estonians has been cross-country skiing. Competitive skiing is especially popular in Toronto, due to the efforts of the Estonian Ski Club Kalev. The largest ski event organized by the Estonian community was the North American championships held at Horseshoe Valley in 1971. Among the several hundred competitors the most outstanding Estonian was Linda Põldma, who won the 2.5 km event in the girls' 13-15 age class. Several ski resorts, among them Horseshoe Valley and Devil's Elbow, are owned by Estonians.
Marksmanship, at which Estonians excelled during the period of independence, was one of the first athletic activities with which Estonians in Canada became involved. In the early 1950s ten Estonian marksmen in the Hamilton-St. Catharines area began to compete in the ranks of local clubs and later formed an Estonian team. Of these, Jim Hennok, Edgar Tiilen and Evald Gering soon became top marksmen, representing Canada at the Pan-American Games and at the world championships. Gering was also a member of the Canadian squad at the Rome Olympics. All three have placed first at Canadian national championships. E. Tiilen's and J. Hennok's scores at the 1968 event bettered the official world records. Special mention should also be made of the Montreal Estonian boy scout rifle club Estonia, whose members have won more than a dozen Commonwealth Boy Scout championships and many first-place awards at Canadian and provincial youth competitions.
In other sports, Heiti Roman from Toronto rose to world-class standing in sailing. He won the Canadian championships in 1965 and 1966 in the 5.5-metre yacht category and represented Canada at the Mexico City Olympics, North American championships and other events. As well, chess has been an organized activity in both Toronto and Montreal through the efforts and guidance of local Estonian chess clubs. The largest events have been North American Estonian championship matches and Baltic tournaments. Estonian chess players from Montreal and Toronto have played in major Canadian tournaments with good results.
(Chapter 31, pp. 561-571)
In no other field have Estonians in Canada had a more significant impact than in gymnastics, particularly in the development of women's modern gymnastics. The birthplace and centre of this movement has been Toronto. After many decades of determined effort, Estonian women's modern gymnastics has been adopted into the high-school curriculum and the methodology pioneered by Ernst Idla, the world-renowned Estonian gymnastics leader; is now followed across Canada.
Tlie first women's gymnastics group, founded by Helene Tiidus in Toronto in 1949, grew rapidly. By 1950 the Tiidus girls gave their first public performance with 12 gymnasts. As well, a gymnastics and folk-dance section was established as part of the Toronto Estonian Athletic Association Kalev in March 1954. Under the direction of Evelyn Koop since early 1960 and bearing the name Kalev-Estienne, the group has developed a structured program of gymnastics training.
Around 1956 Estonians first began to exert a marked influence on the development of women's gymnastics in Toronto. Physical education experts took note of the achievments of the Tiidus gymnasts. Helene Tiidus was invited to hold summer courses at the Ontario College of Education. The University of Toronto hired Ingrid Saar as instructor in modern rhythmic gymnastics. Both men's and women's Estonian gymnastics groups were first featured prominently in the Toronto press in connection with the 1957 North American Estonian Festival, which brought together 110 women and 36 performers from the Kalev men's group. A much larger crowd witnessed the 1964 Estonian Festival at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, where 250 women gymnasts performed. The Toronto papers featured large photographs of this spectacle, something never before witnessed in Canada.
By the spring of 1965 the ranks of the Kalev women's gymnasts had grown to 200. Elite groups from Tiidus and Kalev gave two performances at the New York World Fair. The Kalev girls also performed at the opening ceremonies for the new City Hall in Toronto, attended by more than 20,000. The Kalev elite group made its first major tour to the West Coast in 1966.
Estonian women's gymnastics played an especially noteworthy part in the 1967 Canadian centennial celebrations. Selected gymnasts from the Tiidus, Kalev and Montreal groups gave numerous performances at Expo 67. In an historic moment on Estonian Day at Expo 67, the Tiidus gymnasts formed a living Estonian flag of blue, black and white. Under the direction of Evelyn Koop, the Kalev gymnasts staged more than 50 performances at Expo 67, drawing much coverage from the Canadian media. They also appeared for Queen Elizabeth II in Ottawa.
Estonians have made an ever-increasing contribution to the development of physical education in Canada. By 1968 there were many Estonian instructors and trainers at universities and large numbers in the high schools and YMCAs. Estonians have organized major physical education seminars and conferences. An elite group of 11 Estonian gymnasts from the Kalev-Estienne group were part of the Canadian contingent at the Mexico City Olympics in October 1968. Among its other international performances, Kalev-Estienne's elite group toured Europe in 1969 and took part in the international gymnastics festival at Basel. Out of a total of 150 groups from 39 countries, the 10 best were chosen to go on to the finals. Kalev-Estienne, was among this selected number. A 13-member elite group from Kalev-Estienne represented Canada at Expo 70 in Osaka, Japan.
Outside of Toronto, Estonian women's gymnastics has been an organized activity in Montreal, Hamilton and Vancouver. The Montreal- Estonian Athletic Club women's gymnasts, formed in 1952, have given many successful performances.
(Chapter 32, pp. 572-577)
Together with distinctive Estonian folk music and colorful national costumes, Estonian folk-dancing has been the most popular and impressive demonstration of our ethnic heritage both at home and abroad. The Medicine Valley Estonian Society, founded in 1910, held at least three to four social gatherings each year where folk-dancing was part of the program. Since 1948 the art of Estonian folk-dancing has been cultivated in Canada on a more organized and broader basis.
The folk-dance troupe of the Vancouver Estonian Society has been active since 1948 and has given from five to eight performances each year for Canadian spectators and two or three performances at Estonian events. The group has been composed of up to 10 pairs. The Toronto Estonian folk-dance group Kungla commenced activities on February 4, 1949. At the first Estonian World Festival in Toronto in 1972 the performers included 150 dancers from Kungla organized into seven sections. The folk-dance and gymnastics section of the Toronto Estonian Athletic Association Kalev was founded in March 1954 and was active until 1959.
The Port Arthur Estonian folk-dance ensemble was formed as a division of the local Estonian society on December 7, 1952. It was especially active between 1952 and 1965, giving a total of 117 performances. The Hamilton Estonian folk-dance ensemble was formed in the fall of 1949. After the first North American Estonian Festival in 1957, it ceased activity. The Hamilton Estonian guide and scout folk-dance troupe began its activities in 1954. The group has performed at Estonian festivals and at exhibitions and open-air festivals throughout southern Ontario. In 1970 it became the Hamilton Estonian folk-dance company Kandali.
The Sault Ste. Marie Estonian folk-dance group was founded in the fall of 1952. The group has worked successfully with adult, youth and children's sections. The Sudbury Estonian Society folk-dance group was active from 1952 to 1956. After a hiatus, the Sudbury Estonian folk-dance ensemble was formed in 1963.
The Montreal Estonian folk-dance ensemble began around 1948-1949 and has since fluctuated between periods of greater and lesser activity. Interest rose after 1960 and it was renamed Kuldkingadi in 1971. The young people's folk arts ensemble Vikerlased of Montreal was active from 1963-1970 and toured Europe in 1970.
The St. Catharines Estonian folk-dance circle was active from 1955-1965, giving 62 performances. The Kitchener Estonian folk-dancers were formed in 1951. Interest ran high until 1963 and was later revived by the Estonian World Festival in Toronto in 1972. Membership has been as high as 40. The London Estonian Society folk-dance troupe was active between 1951- 1959 with many performances. Subsequent activities have been sporadic. Estonian folk-dancing has also been organized for short periods in Kirkland Lake, Calgary and Winnipeg.
The North American Estoniana Festivals have helped to raise the standard of Estonian folk-dancing and to heighten public interest in this art form. Three hundred and twenty dancers, among them six Canadian companies with 198 performers, took part in the third North American Estonian Festival in Torbnto in 1964. The next festival in New York brought together 338
dancers, 174 from Canada. The majority of the almost 500 folk-dancers of the Festival of Light at the Estonian World Festival in Toronto in 1972 was from Canada. Seminars and training trips for leaders have been organized to preserve the heritage of Estonian folk dance. The enthusiasm of the yonger generation ensures its continuation.
(Chapter 33, pp. 578-588)
Estonian architects have made an impressive contribution to Canadian society. For the small group of architects who came to Canada in the late 1940s and early 1950s, insufficient command of English combined with lack of local experience and social connections made their entry into the profession difficult. Nevertheless, most managed to find employment with established architects or in the allied fields of design and drafting. Quite naturally, the first noteworthy achievements were made in building projects serving the local Estonian communities. The cooperative apartment project on Queen Street East and St. Peter's Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church, both in Toronto and both designed by the late Michael Bach, represent outstanding examples of this period.
The younger generation of new Estonian-Canadians demonstrated a great interest in studying architecture, especially in Toronto where as early as the late 1940s the University of Toronto School of Architecture had two Estonian faculty members, Michael Bach and Ants Elken. Such students as Taivo Kapsi, Enn Kajari, Rein Raimet, Henno Sillaste and others established reputations for academic excellence. After graduating, some established their own practices while others found employment with architectural firms. Many of the latter have risen into key positions as partners or associates, making significant contributions to the local architectural scene (Kaljo Voore, Ivar Kalmar, Tõnu Altosaar, Ernst Vähi, Toomas Tamm and others). Among those with their own practices in Toronto, Elmar Tampõld and Uno Prii have become widely known. The former has been the driving force behind the students' cooperative housing developments, of which Tartu College is an outstanding example; the latter has been responsible for many of Toronto's most remarkable high-rise housing projects.
The ever-increasing number of graduates makes it impossible to list all the achievements in the field of architecture. A number of the younger generation architects have pursued graduate studies and academic careers. Enn Kajari and Rein Kuris became professors at the Carleton University School of Architecture, while Peeter Sepp, an artist and architect, became involved with the National Arts Council in Ottawa and is widely known for his paintings and graphics. Although architectural design competitions are relatively rare in Canada, Estonian architects have received a large number of awards, including Massey Medals and National Housing Design Awards.
Because Toronto has become one of the main global centres for Estonians abroad, a number of architects from outside Canada have come here and become quickly involved with major projects, among them Eneri Taul from Ohio and Guido Laikve from Adelaide, Australia. The condominiums of Estonian Home and the addition to the Estonian House are both designed by Laikve.
As with all new Canadians, the first generation of Estonian architects was mostly preoccupied with securing employment, learning the language and finding their way in a new culture. With the second generation, the focus has gradually shifted from survival to a more idealistic,outlook on life. Due to difficulties in communicating with Estonia, the new generation in search of its cultural roots and architectural legacy increasingly turned toward Finland - Estonia's sister country among the Finno-Ugric peoples - for inspiration and support. The awarding of the Toronto City Hall competition to the Finnish architect Viljo Revell, had a great impact on the younger generation. In increasing numbers new graduates spent time in Finland either studying, working or travelling. Today, many Estonian architects in Canada have become, apart from their professional commitments, involved in activities advancing their cultural inheritance and, in so doing, contribute to the multicultural nature of Canadian life.
(Chapter 34A, pp. 598-617)
The landmark events in the late 1950s and early 1960s were the North American Estonian Festivals held alternately in Toronto and New York City. The initiative for such a joint venture came from Toronto and was warmly supported by Estonians across the border.
Preparations for the first North American Estonian Festival in Toronto, held in 1957, began more than a year in advance and included choir rehearsals, folk-dance training and administrative work. The festival's successful program included several exhibitions, theatre performances, concerts, a congress of Estonian organizations, a concert of massed choirs and performances by folk-dancers and gymnasts at the CNE Coliseum. The number of performers exceeded 1,000, and total attendance was estimated at 7,000-8,000. The festival also attracted favorable coverage from the Canadian media and was financially successful with a profit of $7,400, of which $6,000 was allocated to the acquisition of the Estonian House in Toronto.
More than 300 Estonian singers, actors, folk-dancers and gymnasts from Canada took part in the second North American Estonian Festival in New York City in 1960. Still, the total number of visitors from Canada was less than expected, falling considerably short of attendance from the United States at the Toronto festival three years earlier.
For the third North American Estonian Festival in Toronto in 1964, the program was made more diverse, with different events occuring simultaneously. A song festival and a presentation of folk dance and women's rhythmic gymnastics took place at Maple Leaf Gardens with an estimated 4,000-5,000 in attendance. Eighteen choirs and three bands participated, featuring 250 voices and 130 musicians. Twelve folk-dance troups with 330 dancers and 240 women gymnasts were among the performers, who totalled 1,070 from Canada and 675 from the United States. Total attendance was estimated at 9,000, about 4,000 coming from the United States.
By the time of the fourth North American Estonian Festival in New York City in 1968, a world festival had been under consideration although insufficient time for preparations did not permit this. As in 1960, there were about 300 performers from Canada, with attendance from the country remaining comparatively low. After 1968 planning of the world festival resumed.
The following smaller-scale Estonian festivals deserve mention:
• The Song Festival in Toronto in 1969 was held to mark the centenary of the first national song festival in Estonia. Sixteen mixed choirs numbering over 350 singers, four women's choirs totalling 100 singers, six male choirs with 200 singers, and five bands with 100 musicians participated. Their numbers were drawn almost equally from Canada and the United States. In addition to the main concert there were two special features, a youth concert by the supplementary-school choirs and youth organizations and a concert at the University of Toronto's Convocation Hall, featuring the Toronto Estonian Male Choir and the 70-piece University of Rochester Orchestra. The festival was organized by the League of Estonian Choirs in North America.
• The Toronto midsummer festivals became annual events in the late 1940s. Held at first in the Hamilton-St. Catharines area, they later took place at locations north of Toronto. The programs have included song, folk dance, gymnastics, athletic events and open-air drama. Attendance has ranged from 1,000 to 3,500. The midsummer festival has not been held during the years of the North American and world festivals in Toronto.
• The summer festivals at Seedrioru near Elora have been held annually since 1956. Song festivals, open-air theatre productions, musical performances, folk dance and modern gymnastics have made up the program. About one-third of the average 2,000 to 3,000 people who have attended each year have been Estonians from the United States. A peak of 8,000 was reached in 1972. The number of participants has ranged from a few dozen to 150, with more than 400 singers at the song festivals in 1962 and 1966.
• The Estonian Festival at Expo 67 in Montreal featured a program designed to appeal to an international audience. A total of about 700 folk-dancers, gymnasts and singers took part.
• As part of the centennial celebrations in 1967, Estonian choirs, folk-dancers and the Kalev-Estienne women's gymnasts performed in many places across Canada. The latter were particularly successful and gave more than 50 performances, including an appearance at the invitation of the government of Canada in Ottawa, with Queen Elizabeth II in attendance.
• The biennial West Coast Estonian festivals, held in Vancouver and the United States, have attracted large audiences from outside of the Estonian community.
• Estonian scout jamborees are large gatherings of young Estonians at the Kotkajarve campgrounds near Port Sydney, Ontario, The 1972 jamboree then secretary of state for external affairs Mitchell Sharp, addressed a crowd of 8,000.
• A banquet for 1,000 guests was given by the Ontario government at the Seaway Towers. John Yaremko and Robert Welch, both of them members of the provincial cabinet, presided.
• The 350-delegate Estonian National Congress on July 14 took place at the auditorium of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. This was a one-day gathering of elected representatives from Estonian communities throughout the free world. The congress expressed concern over the russification of Estonia and renewed its determination to continue the struggle for Estonia's liberation from Soviet domination.
• A march for freedom on July 15 by about 15,000 people through downtown Toronto ended at Nathan Philips Square, where former prime minister John Diefenbaker addressed the crowd and warned that thoughtless reduction of defences in the free world would be an open invitation to the Soviet Union to carry out its plan for world domination. He called on Canada and other Western nations to take to the United Nations the plight of the captive peoples under Soviet domination and expose the denials of human rights taking place in occupied countries. Next to Mr. Diefenbaker stood 90-year-old Maria Kopperman, who spent 12 years in a Siberian prison camp. Other speakers were Robert Kreem and the honorary consul general of Estonia in Canada, Ilmar Heinsoo.
• The song festival with 1,400 singers and an audience of 10,000 was held in the Coliseum at Exhibition Park on July 15. The crowd was addressed by Ernst Jaakson, consul general of Estonia in the United States.
• At the Festival of Lights at Exhibition Stadium, held that same evening, 1,500 gymnasts and folk-dancers performed for a crowd of 20,000. The minister of labour, Martin O'Connell, brought greetings from Prime Minister Pierre E.Trudeau. A message from U.S .President Richard Nixon was read. The colorful performance continued under spectacular lighting despite a torrential downpour.
• The final event was an ecumenical church service at St. Paul's Cathedral on Sunday, July 16: About 2,000 people attended the service, conducted by Estonian Archbishop Konrad Veem with the assistance of 18 ministers of different denominations.
• A week-long boy scout and girl guide jamboree at Kotkajärve near Port Sydney attracted 1,104 scouts and guides from seven countries.
The organization of a festival of this size and scope took two years of planning at a cost of almost $200,000. The simple matter of informing Estonians scattered around the world presented an enormous challenge. More than 40,000 folders were distributed and an official post office was even installed at the Estonian House. The news media gave the festival unprecedented coverage as television news, radio interviews and special programs informed the people of Canada about ESTO '72. Many newspapers devoted special sections to Estonian activities. At Ontario Place Canadians saw the brightest aspects of Estonian culture and tradition in three separate performances featuring folk-dancing, folk song, choirs, popular music and appearances by several top-ranking Estonian women gymnasts. It was here that the CBC filmed major portions of an hour-long special ES7O '72, which was later broadcast from coast to coast. As well, Estonian traditional folk costumes were displayed in department store windows. Book exhibitions, art displays, handicraft exhibits at the Royal Ontario Museum - nine such exhibits in all - were open to the public. And some 12,000 tickets were sold for 11 performances of six plays, mainly at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Performing Arts. The centre was also the site of two concerts featuring the best singers, musicians and artists.
The true Viking spirit of Estonians was demonstrated by a ferryboat excursion, mainly for the younger generation, around Toronto harbor. At Casa Loma an elegant ball was held by the Estonian Athletic Association, where Silvia Reimann was crowned Miss Estonia. And finally, a festival party at the Moss Park Armories was filled to overflowing with 4,000 celebrants.
Did ESTO '72 achieve its goals? More than 20,000 spectators and 2,000 performers were a sure sign that Estonians all over the free world supported the call for the independence of Estonia. To commemorate this greatest collective achievement of Estonians in Canada, an illustrated album was published by the organizing committee.