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Centennial Celebrations - 1999

The Planning Group for the 1999 Stettler Estonian-Canadian Centennial met at the original Oro homestead near Stettler. Estonians from across Canada and the United States gather at historical Linda Hall near Stettler, Alberta to celebrate the centenary of Estonian settlement in Alberta. The three-day celebration, lasting from June 25 until June 27, was the largest gathering of Estonians and their descendants in Alberta's history. Over 500 people gathered to honour the brave pioneers who came to Alberta at the turn of the century.

 Over 500 people  attended the Estonian-Canadian Centennial at Linda Hall in 1999. It was the largest gathering of Estonians in Alberta\'s history. The celebrations, occurring in late June of 1999, coincided with traditional Jaanipäev (Midsummer's Eve) festivities. Linda Hall, with its spacious grounds and facilities, was the ideal venue for such an event. On the first day descendants of pioneer families covered the walls of Linda Hall with dozens of large family storyboards depicting their rich family heritage. Family trees were included as well as images of log cabins, family portraits and social gatherings. On Friday, families set up motor homes, tents and campers. They viewed exhibits, toured historical sites, purchased souvenirs, and socialized with friends and family. In the evening, guests were entertained by the Garry Raabis Band.

Bob Tipman and Bob Kingsep, grandsons of Estonian pioneers who settled in central Alberta, were co-chairpersons at the Opening Ceremony of the Centennial Celebration in 1999. Saturday featured the Opening Ceremonies co-hosted by Bob Kingsep and Bob Tipman, grandsons of pioneer settlers. As the national anthems were sung, a Canadian, Estonian and Albertan flag were raised. Copies of Original Homestead Certificates were presented to over 30 pioneer family representatives. Saturday afternoon featured traditional Estonian games such as log-sawing and nail-pounding. In the evening, a bountiful western barbecue dinner was served. The evening continued with a varied musical program. The highlight of the evening was the traditional Jaanipäev bonfire.

A religious service was held Sunday morning at the chapel, originally built in 1906. Archbishop Udo Petersoo of the Estonian Evangelical Church of Canada presided over the ceremony. The memorable weekend wrapped up with a guided bus tour through Eckville and the Medicine Valley. The tour included stops at the Estonian School, Estonian Hall, Gilby Cemetery and various pioneer homes. The Centennial weekend served to commemorate the lives of Alberta's Estonian pioneers and those who attended developed a greater appreciation for their culture and heritage.

"Pioneers have made this land our home"
"Me tuleme tuhandest tuulest..."
Alberta's Estonian Heritage
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