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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

Early Years

This sign was erected along Highway 56 near Stettler in recognition of the pioneer Estonian Settlement in the area. Development was rapid and business brisk in the burgeoning new town of Stettler. Over the course of their first winter, seven lumber yards strained to meet demand. By July 1906, there were 600 residents in Stettler. Buildings appeared roughshod and poorly built, indicating that construction was hurried to meet current commercial needs. In the first decade of the 20th century, Stettler had upwards of 70 businesses, including doctors, druggists, a dentist, a lawyer, a jeweler, a butcher, a furniture store, a real estate office, and several general stores. These services were particularly useful to the expanding Estonian population working the fields in the area south of Stettler.

Some of the first Estonian families settled in the area south of Stettler in 1903. They travelled from Sylvan Lake to Red Deer and then from Red Deer to Stettler. The Tipmans and Kudras are notable examples of pioneer families dedicated to finding quality farmland in the largely unsettled lands of early 20th-century Alberta. Any pioneer family trying to establish a successful farm had to display indomitable resolve and perseverance. Without adequate funds and efficient transportation, the Tipmans and Kudras, like other Estonian settlers, discovered Alberta's unexplored terrain by foot and, over time, they created prosperous farming communities. Other Estonians to arrive shortly after were Alix Saar, Ado Saar, Alex Oro, Martin Oliver, Hennels, and Johannes Kerbes, accompanied by various family members.

Alberta's Estonian Heritage
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