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Nikolai Rõuk

Nikolai Rouk, later founder and first president of the Calgary Estonian Society, 1940s Nikolai Rõuk was a co-founder, president and vice-president of the Lõuna Alberta Eesti Selts, or Southern Alberta Estonian Society, which had a brief existence in the late 1940s. The Calgary Estonian Society was established on June 17, 1950 with Nikolai Rõuk at the helm as co-founder and president until January 31, 1953. He continued on the executive in the position of Vice-President for many additional years.

Mr. Rõuk's term of office as president may have been a short 2 ½ years, but he continued to function in a leadership role in the Calgary Estonian community for several decades. He had solid experience in this regard from Estonia where he was a lawyer, a director on the Estonian Egg Export Board and a leader within the Sakala fraternity which he had joined during his years at Tartu University. He was also legal consultant to various businesses and organizations. The Second World War caused his family to escape from Estonia, winding up temporarily at a large Estonian refugee camp in Germany where he became one of the directors.

Nikolai Rõuk's European credentials as a lawyer were not accepted once he settled in Canada in 1948. He and his wife Gerda both worked as bookkeepers. Their daughter Kadri became a high school teacher.

Nikolai Rõuk was an excellent speaker, being invited occasionally to deliver key speeches at other Estonian communities across Canada. Upon his arrival in Calgary he was unable to speak English, thus at gatherings involving non-Estonians, Enzio Mägi frequently shared the podium, providing instant translation. At other times Inge Zach provided the translation until Mr. Rõuk acquired English, adding it to the several languages he already spoke. Among his many functions, Mr. Rõuk was the Estonian representative on the Canadian Citizenship Council.

Nikolai Rõuk had the bearing of an elder statesman, exuding a quiet yet firm confidence. As a result he developed good relations with the media, raising awareness about Estonia and the local Estonian community in the Calgary area. He arranged Calgary Albertan and other media interviews when prominent Estonians visited Calgary. During the early decades of the Calgary Estonian Society, Mr. Rõuk maintained close ties with other Baltic states. He arranged a display of Estonian cultural items at the T. Eaton department store in February 1956. At the time Eaton's was a prestigious store and it was considered a major coup to be permitted an entire window display at its prominent downtown location.

Many people of various ethnic backgrounds paid their respects at the funeral of Nikolai Rõuk who died in 1992 at the age of 90.

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