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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

Estonians to be marked by unveiling Saturday

Most of the Estonians now in Canada belong to the great stream of refugees who fled the second Russian occupation of the Estonian Republic in 1944 but 46 years earlier the first Estonian settlement was established east of Sylvan Lake.

These early Estonians and These early Estonians and province will be commemorated at 10 a.m. June 24 when an historical sign is unveiled at the junction of Highway 56 and the Linda Hall Road, south of Stettler, where Estonians also settled.

Culture Minister Horst Schmid and Consumer Afairs Minister Graham Harle will unveil the sign, 76 years after the Estonians moved to the Stettler region.

The Kingsep brothers were the first Estonians to homestead in Alberta. They settled on section 2, township 39, range 28, west of the 4th meridian in 1898.

In the next two or three years, several more Estonians came and settled in the same area.

In 1902 a small group of Estonians left the Sylvan Lake environs to move to the Medicine River valley near Eckville. At the same time another group moved to the area south of Stettler, in what is known as the Linda Hall area, having first tried unsuccessfully to settle south of Medicine Hat.

They came mainly from the Crimea and other areas of czarist Russia.

Half a century later Estonians were fleeing from a recurrence of communist terror experienced during the 194Q-41 occupation, when more than 10,000 of their countrymen were arrested in a single night and deported to Siberia. Each year Estonians in Canada commemorate this night of horror by mass meetings and demonstrations.

Since 1948, with the aid of the Canadian government and international refugee organizations, large numbers of Estonians have come to Canada from Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom and other countries.


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