Visiting VEMU

March 1, 2023

Travelling has become possible and popular yet again, and so VEMU/ Estonian Museum Canada has already had many great guests at the beginning of 2023.

On January 17, the President of the Alberta Estonian Heritage Society, Kelly Schuler, met with VEMU as well as other Estonian organisations at Tartu College. She shared how her family arrived in Canada at the Bibliography Club’s luncheon. Kelly is the descendant of Crimean Estonians Jakob & Mari Erdman, who, as young children, left their Paide area homes with their parents and other family members in a larger group, trekking 2000 km on foot to Crimea in 1861. When Mari and Jakob grew up, they married and had nine children while farming in the mild warm climate near the Black Sea. By 1901, there were rumours of forthcoming war in Russia; Kelly´s family uprooted their lives once again to get away and re-establish a farming and ranching life in South Dakota. However, the climate there was too harsh after 40 years in semi-tropical Crimea, and the group looked for new homesteading land, finding it in southern Alberta, near the town now known as Barons. There are dozens of multi-generational descendants of Jakob and Mari spread throughout Alberta, elsewhere in Canada and the USA. Kelly, her mother and her two children are among them.

Estonian musician and contemporary music expert Tarmo Johannes visited on February 2nd. Tarmo performed an innovative program titled “Bog” that included virtual reality at the 2019 Estonian Music Week in Toronto with U-Ensemble. His focus during this visit was to research the legacy of EstonianCanadian progressivist composer Udo Kasemets for an upcoming U-Ensemble concert program. Tarmo familiarised himself with VEMU’s collections and discussed future collaboration plans with the EMW team.

At the beginning of February, the Ukrainian-Estonian band Svjata Vatra toured Ontario and Québec. Band leader and vocalist Ruslan Trochynskyi, along with his wife Terje and daughter Rute were also able to fit a tour of VEMU into their schedule.

Kadri Linnas from the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Liis Kolle, an educator at The Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre and opera stage director living in Berlin, visited and familiarised themselves with VEMU’s collections and activities at the end of February. Kadri is known amongst Estonians living abroad as the advisor of the Ambassador at Large for the Diaspora Marin Mõttus, the organiser of virtual forums focused towards Estonians living abroad, and the newsletter’s editor. Liis was especially interested in VEMU’s collections since they include the personal archive of the first Estonian opera stage director Hanno Kompus. Since Liis is planning on writing a monography of Kompus, she will be back in Toronto in the near future.