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Dave Kiil

Ain Dave Kiil was the President of the Edmonton Estonian Society from 1999-2005. He coordinated the production of the 30-minute documentary film \"Alberta\'s Estonians\", 2007. Dave Kiil was born in 1936 on the island of Saaremaa, Estonia - the largest island in the Baltic Sea. As a young child he often enjoyed exploring the countryside surrounding the family farm or dipping his feet in the shallow waters of nearby Pilguse Bay. In 1944 when Soviet forces overtook Estonia, marking the beginning of a 50-year unwelcome occupation, Dave's family made the difficult decision to flee their country.

The boat leaving for Gotland, Sweden was overcrowded and filled with families desperate to escape Stalin's regime. Upon arriving in Sweden, Dave and his mother stayed at a refugee camp while other members of the Kiil family were housed elsewhere. In Sweden, Dave's mother taught him simple arithmetic and how to read. In the summer of 1945, reunited with his family, Dave settled in the town of Björknas, a short distance from Stockholm. Here, he attended school until the family left for Canada in December 1950. The refugee ship General Ballou arrived in Halifax several weeks later.

Dave Kiil speaks to a captive audience celebrating the Estonian-Canadian Centennial in Stettler in 1999. Dave attended high school and university in Toronto. He was able to graduate from the University of Toronto in 1960 with a Bachelor of Science in Forestry. His career in forestry took him to Calgary, Alberta where he initiated a forest fire research program. In 1967 Dave spent one year at the University of Montana in Missoula. Here he earned a Master of Science in Forestry degree. Following graduation, Dave resumed his forestry career at the Northern Forestry Centre in Edmonton. He retired in the fall of 1994.

Dave married his wife Betty Ann in 1962. They are the proud parents of four children. They are Glenn, Monica, Lisa and Diana. Him and his wife are also the proud grandparents of three grandchildren, Ranek, Kalev and Sam. Since his retirement Dave has concentrated his efforts on woodwork and on visiting Estonia. Following several trips to the land of his ancestors, Dave's interests shifted to family history research and involvement in the Edmonton Estonian Society. In 2004 he contributed to the formation of the Alberta Estonian Heritage Society, a province-wide organization dedicated to preserving Estonian heritage.

Dave was President of the EES from 1999-2005. During his tenure, the Society sponsored the usual events like Jaanipäev, Christmas gatherings, Independence Day Celebrations and Saurkraut bees. He hosted Estonian athletes participating in the World Athletics Championships in 2001, the World Masters Games in 2002 and the World University Wrestling Championships in 2002. Members of the Society travelled to Linda Hall in Stettler to welcome Estonian President Lennart Meri in 2000.

Dave coordinated the formation of the Alberta Estonian Heritage Society in 2004-2005. He guided the production of a 30-minute documentary DVD "Alberta's Estonians, and the development of the Alberta Estonian Heritage Society's "Alberta Estonian Heritage" digital archive website. Dave has assembled a collection of hundreds of articles, documents and related literature as well as several thousand photographic images during the AEHS heritage project. Planning is underway to donate the printed and digitized materials for preservation and convenient access in a memory institution(s) in Alberta.

Alberta's Estonian Heritage
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