Jaanipäev at Lättemäe 2014
Lättemäe, which is situated a few dozen kilometres west of Montreal, has been a summer gathering place for Montreal Estonians for more than 60 years now. Over the years it has been the site of children’s camps and various other social activities. This year on June 21st the annual Jaanipäev gathering was held there with participants coming from, not only Montreal, but also the Ottawa-Gatineau region. It’s worth mentioning here that in Quebec, just like Estonia, Jaanipäev (La Fête de Saint-Jean) is a major holiday with the organization of concerts and bonfires.
The woods and land at Lättemäe have been cleaned and structures built over the years as Montreal Estonians applied body and soul to the task. The efforts of humans together with nature’s own work have undoubtedly created a unique spirit that floats in the woods of Lättemäe. It must be that spirit which entices to it the children and grandchildren of those who first established Lättemäe, as well as others from Estonia and elsewhere in Canada. That spirit is surely kept alive by those descendants and newcomers as they clean up the woods ahead of every Jaanipäev.
This year’s celebration was attended by young people, the young at heart and of course mosquitos that always join forest events. Karl J. Raudsepp, the President of the Montreal Estonian Society welcomed all the guests and later gave an interesting overview of Lättemäe’s history. Although there are an increasing number of men able to cook, it seems that no one is able to surpass the women cooks of Lättemäe. Under the talented leadership of Kersti Leetmaa, they again had prepared a delicious lunch for everyone. In addition, Astrid Dando had baked a very tasty “kringel” and Estonian rye bread.
The woods and fields at Lättemäe have always provided kids with particular fun and enjoyment not found in the city. Naturally, the delighted shouts of children could be heard throughout the day. Just like every year, the experienced bonfire builder, Mart Leetma, carried out his duties admirably. There was enough Jaanipäev good cheer for everyone to share and by the end of the day all were good and tired, whether from running around in the woods, from conversation, from mosquito bites or just from being in the fresh air.