Enn and Pärja Tiislar
Enn Tiislar was president of the Calgary Estonian Society (CES) from November 1991 to November 1995. The Society became dormant as of November 1995 when the long-serving executive resigned after many unsuccessful attempts to find replacements. However, Enn Tiislar's term came to a formal end in 2003 when a new president and treasurer took over the reins in order to facilitate the formal closing of the organization and formation of the new AEHS.
Enn is a retired chemical engineer. He worked for many years at BA Oil / Gulf Oil and Petro-Canada in the finance, marketing and systems departments.
Enn's family originally came to Canada to the Peace River area near Bonanza, on the north shore of Bear Creek, in 1949. They were sponsored as refugees to Canada by Stanley and Anna (née Lustwerk, born in Tallinn, Estonia on June 16, 1894) Tomkins.
Enn's family moved to Toronto where he grew up and received an education. He married Pärja in 1972. Enn and Pärja have lived in Calgary on and off, having been transferred to Ontario on several occasions, since 1986. They now reside in Canmore.
Enn characterizes his presidency generally as a quiet time. The executive annually organized Independence Day commemorations and Christmas church services combined with short concerts featuring children's choral singing and various musical soloists. Pärja, along with the help of several other CES women, enthusiastically directed the programs and food arrangements. The ladies typically served Christmas sausages, sauerkraut with rye bread and homemade sweets. Under Enn's guidance, Independence Day was celebrated as a Sunday brunch at a hotel, making it a family affair rather than an adults only event.
Members were encouraged to attend Jaanipäev celebrations at historical Linda Hall in Stettler, an event held roughly every other year in June.
Pärja volunteered as the Calgary area coordinator for the Centennial Celebration of Estonians in Alberta, headed by Toomas Pääsuke of Edmonton. She provided considerable support as a board member on several committees: programme, music, songbook, Calgary publicity and registration. Pärja helped compile an extensive mailing list tracking down descendants of pioneer Estonians and former Calgary residents regardless of whether they lived in Alberta or elsewhere in the world. A total of over 500 attended the highly successful July 1999 event, many arriving from outside Alberta.
When Estonia regained its independence in 1991 Estonian athletes, musicians and other individuals travelled to the Calgary area for international competitions, guest appearances and exchange programs. The Calgary Estonian Society always attempted to help with travel arrangements, provided local contacts, and held small gatherings where local Estonian-Canadians could meet with the visitors from Estonia on an informal basis.
The highest profile visitor came while Enn was president of the otherwise dormant Calgary Estonian Society. Fellow Calgarians Helgi Leesment and Helle Kraav, along with Pärja, organized the official visit of Estonian President Lennart Meri's visit to Alberta in July of 2000. Many local members of the Calgary Estonian Society were able to meet the President at an informal barbecue at the Tiislars. It was a thrilling evening for all the participants.