Charlie Raabis came to Canada from Estonia in the early 1900s. He emigrated with his wife, Leena, their infant daughter, Helen and Leena's mother, Maie Poder. They settled on a homestead near the Medicine River. A few years later, tragedy struck the family when a bolt of lightning killed Leena during a torrential thunderstorm. In 1906 Charlie married Olga Kinna, a native of Estonia who had recently immigrated to Canada.
Charlie worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway. When he was able to purchase a team of oxen, he surrendered his position with the CPR and started clearing potential farmland. Soon a modest field of oats and barley was in place. It was accompanied by a vegetable garden. Charlie contributed to the enhancement of the Estonian community and applied his carpentry skills to assist in the construction of the Estonian school and the Estonian Hall. He also helped build the community's first flour mill and donated a small piece of land to be used as a local cemetery. Charlie made use of his musical talents and sang in the Estonian community choir. He served as the secretary-treasurer on the school board and as a member of the Board of Directors for the Eckville Co-operative Association.
Together Charlie and Olga had eight children: Helen, Salme, Hilja, Carl, Mary, Arthur, Waldo and Clara.
Tragically, Helen passed away at the age of ten.
Salme went to the Estonian school and then trekked seven miles to reach Eckville High School. She became a teacher north of Bentley, Alberta and married Art Mottus.
Hilja quit school and was immediately assigned cow milking duties. Typical of many Estonian families settling in Alberta, the parents often re-enforced the value of a strong education and would certainly not tolerate idleness. Hilja married Nick Kalev, a music prodigy. Together, they had two children.
Carl worked at the Moro brothers' flour mill in Eckville. He married Ethel Peterson and farmed north of Bentley. Together, they had five children.
Mary attended the Estonian School and later married local cowboy Fred Bardenhagen in 1933.
Arthur worked as a clerk at the Co-op store in Eckville. He was remembered as a talented musician, particularly proficient at playing the piano and the violin.
Waldo married Myrtle Greenman and raised a musically-oriented family of four. They sold their farm, moved to Fairview, Alberta and purchased the Pinky Coin Wash business.
Clara left for Vancouver as a teenager and pursued a career in hairstyling. She worked as a hairdresser and beautician on a luxury ship. There she met and married the chief steward, Vic Bremner.