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Sestrap Family

Mike Sestrap built a store in Gilby, 1910. It had a 20-metre-long hall on the main floor where social events were held. Mike Sestrap along with his two brothers, Mart and Gust, emigrated from Estonia in 1905. Mike started a homestead northwest of Gilby, Alberta. He was sure to transport his sewing machine and iron with him as he was a talented tailor in Estonia. In 1907 Mike and Gust began constructing the Gilby store. Using a team of oxen, Mike would deliver goods to the property from Lacombe, Alberta. The trip typically lasted two or three days.

Mike married Fanny Krintila in 1912. Together they had four children: Elvie, Arvo, George and Ray. Six years later, Mike sold the Gilby store to the Shorrocks family and moved to Eckville. Shortly thereafter Fanny died. In 1922 a young, single Estonian woman arrived in Red Deer, Alberta. It had been arranged that the woman was to marry a friend of Mike's. Wasting no time, Mike travelled to Red Deer, unbeknownst to his friend. In a short time he had charmed Alma, the young lady. They were married that same year.

During this time the Sestrap family contributed to the development of Eckville. Mike helped finance and build Eckville's Memorial Hall. However, tragedy soon struck the Sestrap family when a devastating fire ravaged their General store. Dodging flames and crashing timbers, Mike was able to salvage the cash register. His efforts in contributing to the development of Eckville did not go unnoticed. J.T. Marshall wrote a poem about three integral pioneers of Eckville. Never completed, the poem is as follows:

There is a place called Eckville;
Which is a great town
Because of three gentlemen,
Of established renown.
They were Mike, Mac and Macintosh,
A trio hard to beat.
And these three gentlemen are noted
For holding down the street.
Now if you chance to Eckville come
You'll surely meet this clan,
With a smile upon their countenance
That would jar a healthy man.
They would gladly take you by the hand.
And waltz you all around,
And tell you all the secrets
About our little town.
And if at night you chance to wake
To noise upon the street,
You'll know it's these famous gentlemen
That's holding down the street.

Alma passed away in 1956, and Mike followed her two years later. Mike's first wife, Fanny, had a son named Uno from a previous marriage. Uno stayed in central Alberta, operating a variety of general stores in the area. Elvie completed a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Alberta. She married Cliff Vertine and moved to Victoria. In 1939, Arvo married a woman by the name of Marjorie. He owned a charter operation outside of Kitimat, British Columbia. George married Lydia Kraft in 1941. He worked in the oil field sector for numerous years prior to opening Sestrap's Café with Lydia in 1962. In time, they sold the business and retired to Penhold, British Columbia. Ray helped his brothers manage various general stores. He married Myrel Lewis, and, together, they had two children. They retired to Clearbrook, British Columbia.

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