Alberta’s Estonians, 1899 – present

June 7, 2014

During the last two centuries, hundreds of thousands of Estonians have emigrated (voluntarily or forcibly) to the other parts of the world – from metropolises like New York to the steppes of Siberia and jungles of Brazil. One colourful page in Estonian migration history is Alberta’s Estonian settlement, which dates back to the year 1899, when the first Estonian pioneers arrived in the province of Alberta.

It is wonderful to see how Alberta’s relatively small Estonian community is vibrant, even after a century from the founding of the community. In 2005, the Alberta Estonian Heritage Society (AEHS) was established with the aim of preserving Estonian culture and traditions. AEHS have been very active in this field: they have captured a 30-minute documentary Alberta’s Estonians (2007), published a richly illustrated and valuable book Freedom, Land, & Legacy: Alberta’s Estonians 1899-2009 and prepared a great exhibit Alberta’s Estonian 1899 – present, which is now on display to the Estonian public at the Academic Library of Tallinn University (Rävala pst 10, Tallinn) from Thursday, May 15.

The exhibit highlights Estonian pioneers who arrived in Alberta beginning in 1899. It discusses the reasons for Estonian immigration to Alberta, the establishment of several Estonian communities, personal stories, their social, political, cultural and economic activities and so on.

The exhibition arrived in Tallinn with the help of AEHS and the Estonian Expatriate Literature Centre, and will be on display until the end of June. I would like to thank the members of AEHS and specially Mr. Ain Dave Kiil for the support in bringing the exhibition to Tallinn.

Sander Jürisson, Head of Estonian Expatriate Literature Centre