The Kingsep's were the first documented Estonian family to settle in Alberta. In March 1899, Henry Kingsep and his wife Emilie moved to Canada with their two young daughters, Linda, three years old and Selma, 11 months old. Like other Estonians who would soon follow, Henry was interested in developing a homestead in western Canada. The family travelled by train to Red Deer. Henry promptly found a settlement two miles east of Sylvan Lake. His brother, Kristjan, arrived shortly thereafter with his family and settled adjacent to Henry's property. Kristjan, a sailor, had visited Canada previously and was impressed with its seemingly boundless landscape.
In 1902 the Kingsep family moved 20 miles west and settled on the banks of the Medicine River. Their arrival here marked the beginning of the Medicine Valley Estonian community. The area adjacent to the Medicine River provided ideal space and an abundance of fish to newly arrived Estonian immigrants. Life on the farm was challenging and rewarding at the same time. The Kingsep's grew oats, barley, winter wheat and managed a herd of cattle. Henry would travel three days to Red Deer for family provisions. As there were no paved roads at the time, the journey was physically demanding and mentally straining. When the Eckville General Store opened, Henry's daughters Selma and Linda would carry butter and eggs over four miles in exchange for other groceries. The two sisters would also walk over four miles to attend school. However, this was a journey they thoroughly enjoyed as school presented a chance to socialize and interact with other young pupils.
In total Henry and Emilie raised eight children. Linda, the oldest, was one of the first students to attend the Estonian School when it was built in 1910. Years later she married Gust Mottus and they farmed north of Eckville. Eventually they moved to Eckville where Linda assumed the role of cook at the hospital. Emulating her father's industrious work ethic, she never missed a day of work. They raised one son, Rudy, and two twin daughters, Emma and Elsie. Linda passed away in 1967 at the age of 71 years.
Selma finished high school in Red Deer and enrolled in a business course in Edmonton where she later worked as a stenographer. In 1922 Selma married Henry Pallo of Red Deer. They have two children. Selma passed away in 1976 at the age of 78 years.
Agnes Stabel (Kingsep) was a schoolteacher in southern Alberta. Now retired, Agnes and her husband reside in Red Deer. They have five children.
Her brother Henry Jr. remained a bachelor his entire life and farmed near his parents' farm north of Eckville. Aside from farming, Henry Jr. enrolled in agricultural mechanics for a brief period in Calgary. He was an adroit trapper and often caught muskrat and beaver. He passed away in 1969.
Emma Lapp (Kingsep) graduated from high school in Red Deer and worked in Calgary and Vancouver before marrying Herman Lapp, a farmer from just north of Eckville. Here, they raised registered seed grain and purebred cattle. Emma participated in numerous Estonian cultural activities while she resided in the Eckville. They raised two daughters and one son. In 1971, they retired to the warmer climate of Penticton, British Columbia.
Otto gained professional experience as a journeyman electrician, machinist and welder. Eventually, through his experience and education, he became a shop director and department head. For several years he worked in underdeveloped countries, helping to establish technical schools. Otto and his wife Vina are now retired and live in Penticton.
Nick grew up on the farm near Eckville and was actively involved in Estonian cultural affairs. He worked as an electrician in Calgary and later opened a small restaurant in Ponoka. He returned to Calgary where he eventually owned and operated his own manufacturing plant. He and his wife Rita have one son.
Robert married Lila Wester and managed the family farm. He designed and built water well drilling rigs, supplying water for oil drilling companies. He passed away in 1971. They have a son and a daughter.