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Leisure and Post-World War II Developments

Dozens of students with Estonian ancestry graduated from the Barons Consolidated School. Leisure activities were paramount in developing Barons’ social environment as well as in emphasizing the value of community spirit. Barons’ dedicated labourers and farmers enjoyed billiards, bowling, baseball, and curling. On Sundays, after weekly church services, locals enjoyed playing pool. However, in the first few decades of the 20th century, doing so was illegal. To circumvent this irritating setback, volunteers perfunctorily stood on the rooftop of the building and scouted the terrain for approaching RCMP officers. If an officer was spotted, the lookout would issue a warning, and participating billiard players would scatter nonchalantly.

Bowling was another popular activity. Estonian settler Jack Kulpas represented Barons when he travelled to Spokane, Washington in a bowling tournament. Showcasing his impressive skills, he bowled a perfect game.

Organized baseball games with rival towns competing against each other drew tremendous crowds. To improve the quality of its squad, Barons would often recruit talented players, including many of Estonian descent, from the surrounding area.

Over the course of its history, Barons has witnessed agricultural booms and busts. The town has also been susceptible to centralization and urbanization, particularly in the post-World War II era. Many examples of relocation demonstrate this trend. For instance, the RCMP moved their offices to Picture Butte in order to cover a broader area. Municipal offices once located in Barons were shifted to Lethbridge when Barons amalgamated with the County of Lethbridge. Schools in Barons closed when students could use buses as a means of reliable transportation to access Lethbridge’s school system. Paved highways allowed for a simple commute into Lethbridge where citizens of Barons could shop and conduct business. Despite this trend toward gradual urbanization, Barons still prospers as an agricultural community—one that cherishes its rural history and cultural heritage. Several Estonians continue to farm in the area.

Alberta's Estonian Heritage
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