hide You are viewing an archived web page, collected at the request of University of Alberta using Archive-It. This page was captured on 16:47:15 Dec 08, 2010, and is part of the HCF Alberta Online Encyclopedia collection. The information on this web page may be out of date. See All versions of this archived page.

Heritage Community Foundation Presents
Alberta Online Encyclopedia

Arne Matiisen

Laas Leivat, Helgi Leesment and Arne Matiisen socializing during Barons\' Centennial festivities,  2004. Arne Matiisen was born in Tallinn to Voldemar (Volli) and Rita Matiisen. In 1944 the family fled Estonia to Sweden to escape the Soviet invasion. Both parents re-established themselves professionally; Volli as a forestry expert and Rita as a dentist.

In 1948 the family immigrated to Canada. Volli's brothers, Arnold and Alfred, were established farmers in the Eckville area, which was the site of the Medicine Valley Estonian Society and featured a large population of Estonians. Arne's family bought a farm in this area and started a whole new way of life.

Arne attended the Estonian School. On the first day, Rita drove the boys there in the family's 1939 Ford pickup and managed to crash the truck into the corner of the teacher's residence. Hendo and Arne, both dressed in their Swedish school uniforms (shirt and tie, jackets, short pants and knee socks) were an oddity to the denim over-alls and gingham dress-clad schoolmates.

Arne completed Grade 12 in 1957 and attended the University of Alberta on a Wheat Pool Scholarship. Upon graduation he started a 40-year career in the oil industry, working in both Canada and abroad. Arne met his future wife Carolyn Ray Wilfley at University of Alberta. They married in 1962 and have two daughters, Janet Ray and Melanie Gail and a granddaughter named Arabelle Ray.

In 1989 Arne, Carolyn and his sister Eda, accompanied his mother Rita to celebrate her 80th birthday in Estonia. It was an emotional return to Tallinn after 45 years of absence. When Estonia regained its independence in 1991, Arne was able to travel to Estonia several times to assist with Rita's claims to the family's pre-war property. They toured Estonia, visiting the family's "root" sites in Joegeva, Harjanurmme and Viljandi. They also met relatives in Tartu, Parnu and Tallinn.

In retirement Arne and Carolyn split the summer season between their home in Calgary and their cabin at Hidden Valley. Winters are enjoyed in their RV touring the southern United States.

Alberta's Estonian Heritage
Albertasource.ca | Contact Us | Partnerships
            For more on Estonian Alberta, visit Peel’s Prairie Provinces.

Copyright © Heritage Community Foundation All Rights Reserved