Estonian flags flew and the national hymn was sung nightly last week as the colourful Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo's week-long performances in Halifax drew thousands of people and the largest Estonian contingent in the Tattoo's 27 year history.
The Tattoo is the single largest pageant presented on Canada's east coast each summer and is a showcase for musical groups and performers from around the world. Producer Ian Fraser has been bringing in performers from Estonia for several years.
This year the Tattoo presented the Estonian Defence Forces Band under Major Peeter Saan, Club Piruette from Tallinn and two circus acts, rope performer Terje Bernadt, the Fly Grossing team (bungee performers) and a fire juggler. It was Club Piruette's fifth appearance at the Tattoo.
Mall Kalve, coach, manager and choreographer of the award-winning rhythmic gymnastics club said the Nova Scotia Tattoo brought her club to world prominence.
"The Nova Scotia Tattoo is the world's greatest Tattoo. We like everything about the town; the people, the accommodations, how smoothly it goes."
Tiit Rammo, the producer of Est-Tattoo in Tallinn in November which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, was in Halifax to help with administration. He said the Estonian Tattoo is similar to the one in Halifax and owes its genesis to Ian Fraser, the producer of the Nova Scotia event.
"Ian Fraser is the best mentor for all Tattoo organizations worldwide. From him I learned how to combine a spectacular show with education, with history. A show about Estonian borders through the centuries. We educate children and teach people about their country."
During the week of July 1-8 in Halifax the full 40-member Estonian Defence Forces Band also performed at a seaside resort near Halifax where several hundred people gathered at a post Canada Day Ceilidh, a Scottish festival. The band received several standing ovations from the crowd seated on a hillside overlooking yachts tied up at an anchorage. They played a medley of favourites including Glenn Miller tunes and started the performance with a rousing „Kalevite Kants“, after which Major Saan informed the audience that the band is located in Tallinn and performs at all official functions.
After a week of daily performances in Halifax's Metro Centre and in the city's Public Gardens, Major Saan said he was pleased with the response from audiences in their first appearance in Canada.
Among those attending was Estonia's chargé d'affaires in Canada Argo Küünemäe of Ottawa and his family.
Estonians living in the Halifax area also attended the event as did hundreds of tourists, many of whom target their vacations each year to attend the Tattoo. Estonians came to Nova Scotia from Sweden and German DP camps in the years following the Second World War and although most settled in other parts of Canada, a few families stayed.
With this year marking Queen Elizabeth's 80th birthday, the popular Tattoo earned its Royal designation, an honour that was celebrated with the appearance of the Regimental band of the Governor-General.
This year's Tattoo also featured musicians and performers from Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Oman.
Estonian performers featured at Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo