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Estonian Chapel

The Estonian Chapel was built near Linda Hall in the Stettler area in 1906. Numerous upgrades and improvements were completed over the years. Reverend John Sillak, an Estonian living in the Medicine Hat area, made frequent trips to the Stettler-Big Valley area, presiding over baptisms, weddings, and funerals. On one particular trip, he explained that the government would donate 10 acres of land, tax free, if the Estonian community living in the area would build a chapel. The government’s arrangement was an appealing prospect to many, granting them a fortuitous opportunity to build a house of worship.

Stettler-Big Valley’s Estonian community built its quaint sanctuary in 1906. The modest structure, built from lumber, is situated one mile east of Linda Hall and rests on a knoll overlooking the landscape. Estonians living throughout the area made frequent trips to the picturesque and conveniently located Estonian Chapel. A cross stood on the top of the building, a structure with spacious windows on both sides and whose main entrance was located on the south side. The interior, a reflection of Estonian modesty, provided a functional and respectful place setting and featured plain wooden pews and an altar painted gold. Members of the Tipman, Hennel, and Kerbes families helped finance and build the church. During the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, the Chapel gradually settled into a state of disrepair. The government demanded a thorough upkeeping; otherwise, burials would be located to another cemetery. The Estonian community immediately reunited to preserve its heritage. New windows, doors, and a fresh coat of paint were promptly applied. A new fence and new gates and signs were erected, complemented by new trees and a hedge of lilacs. In 1997, a new roof and siding were added to preserve the original structure. The interior remains unchanged from its original appearance.

Alberta's Estonian Heritage
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