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Ivar and Allan Ruus

Harry Ruus, born December 15, 1900 in Tartu, Estonia, graduated with a law degree from Tartu University and had a successful practice in Tallinn, Estonia. In 1926, he married Irma Mamers. Their son Allan was born in 1928, followed by Ivar in 1931. The family led a content life filled with social activities. Happy summers were spent on Estonia's pine clad sandy beaches at Klooga. Winter Sundays were spent cross-country skiing at Rahumäe with their two sons.

All of this came to an end in 1940 when the Soviet Army occupied Estonia. In early 1941 the government in Moscow ordered the deportation or execution of prominent, leading and well-educated Estonians. Harry Ruus escaped by hiding in the boggy woods of Estonia. In September 1944 the Ruus family escaped to Germany to avoid Russian forces. While in Germany, Allan briefly attended Bonn University. Ivar continued his education at a temporary Estonian language high school in what was then the British zone of northern Germany.

The Ruus family arrived in Quebec, Canada on June 7, 1949 as immigrants and immediately headed by train to Barons, Alberta where their distant relative Walter Silverton had guaranteed them work on his farm.

At that time, Walter Silverton was finishing the construction of his large two-story house in Barons for his family and parent-in-laws. Allan and Ivar Ruus mostly slept in the bunkhouse in the field but joined the large clan for meals and family fun. All summer and fall, Allan and Ivar worked long, dusty days in the fields. During the winter they moved to the nearby town of Taber working for the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA) as assistant surveyors, often working outside in -30º C and -40º C weather. They continued this job until September 1950 when they both enrolled at the University of Alberta majoring in engineering.

Meanwhile, Harry and Irma Ruus worked for various farmers in the Barons area with Irma working mostly as a cook. When Harry tragically passed away in 1951 Irma decided to move to Edmonton to be with her two sons. There she held a job as clothing alterations specialist for a dry cleaning company and participated in the social life of the local Estonian community. In 1957, Irma Ruus followed her son to Calgary. After a year of intense training at three different hospitals, Irma was awarded a nursing aid diploma and worked at the Colonel Belcher Veterans Hospital until her retirement.

The two sons supported themselves through university by their summer job earnings, surviving on tight budgets. Time permitting, they participated in local Estonian activities, including Estonian folkdance.

Allan Ruus, who had attained a degree in civil engineering, started his career with Gulf Oil. He worked at the Stettler production office, also spending a year at the Calgary office. In Stettler, Allan met the love of his life, Rosemarie, whom he married in 1962. Their daughter Kirsten was born in 1963 (she graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Calgary in 1985). In 1967, Allan was posted to Turner Valley with the firm Western Decalta which transferred the family to Calgary in 1974. Allan and Rosemarie were active participants in the Calgary Estonian parties where they especially loved to dance.

Ivar's career with Texaco Exploration took him to remote locations, including the Dawson Creek - Ft. St. John area. Working in such remote locations was dangerous work. He frequently encountered wildlife, fires, and treacherous driving conditions. Ivar eventually found related work in Calgary. In 1956, he drove to Toronto to marry his longtime girlfriend, Lea Ernesaks. The two had met years earlier in Germany.

Oil was discovered in the Pembina-Drayton Valley area in 1953. By 1957, Ivar was transferred to the Texaco field office in the village of Cynthia, which consisted of ten houses, a trailer court, a service station with a Chinese restaurant and office space.

In 1960, Ivar started working for Skelly Oil Company and the family moved to Edmonton. A small but active group of Estonians met frequently and celebrated special anniversaries. Every Christmas veri vorstid (blood sausage) and rye bread arrived from Estonian shops in Toronto. Estonian clergy came from other provinces to conduct church service. That same year, Irma's mother, Alberta Mamers, joined the Ruus family from Estonia.

Declining a move to the United States, Ivar accepted employment with the National Energy Board in Ottawa in 1967. The family quickly became part of the Estonian club in Ottawa. They met the Prime Minister of Canada, John Diefenbaker, at the Estonian Independence Day commemoration event.

By 1968, Ivar decided to return to private industry, accepting the position of Chief Engineer with Great Plains Development Company, later absorbed into Norcen Energy Resources in 1975. Ivar's last appointment was manager of heavy oil operations at Norcen Energy. Ivar also obtained a Management Diploma from the University of Calgary and is a member of APEGGA (Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists, and Geophysicists of Alberta).

Members of the Calgary Estonian community frequently gathered for special occasions. Ivar particularly loved the Estonian cuisine: rosolje (beet salad), herring, jellied meat (sült) and other cold cuts and fish were always present. An annual community fund-raiser sold vastla kukleid (sweet puffy buns filled with whipped cream) baked by Irma Ruus, a popular cranberry drink (years before this juice became available in Canadian grocery stores) and many other food items provided by Estonian members.

In 1986, Ivar Ruus took early retirement following a heart attack. He continued to do some consulting for a few more years. Around this time, Ivar and Lea's oldest son Allan, born 1958, began working on his MBA degree. Mark, born 1960 was a chartered accountant and the youngest son, Alexander who was born 1964, was an engineer working for Chevron. Alexander obtained his MBA in 1992 and works in investment

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