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Estonian-Canadian Centennial Celebration

Linda Hall district, located 14 kilometres south of town in the County of Stettler, will be the site of the Estonian-Canadian Centennial Celebration June 25, 26 and 27, 1999.

This celebration will be a large gathering of Estonian pioneer families from throughout the province, with guests from all over Canada. How fitting that the community of Linda Hall be honored as host of such a celebration. The first Estonians to settle in Alberta were the Kinsep brothers in 1898, who home-steaded north of Red Deer. From 1903 to 1910 Linda Hall district became the site of one the largest settlements of Estonians in Alberta. In 1978 the Alberta Government saw fit to erect a historic-site-sign on Highway 56 south of Stettler to commemorate the settlement of Estonians at Linda Hall. The local descendants today include the Klaus, Saar, Raho, Raadik, Hennel, Tipman, Oro, Nicklom, Kerbes, and Shursen families.

The only other Alberta settlement was Eckville in the Medicine River Valley.

During the early 1900s there was no immersion into Canadian culture and traditions and, indeed, there couldn't be, as communications and transportation were limited and difficult. These new settlers in our district could speak only the one language of Estonian - the language that they had safeguarded for more than 700 years of suppression by Germans, Danes, Poles, Swedes and Russians. In the short period of time that they had been in this country under an atmosphere of free democracy, they have freely assimilated with other ethnic groups and became intimate members of the Stettler community.

The strong character of the local Estonians - their positive outlook and strong code of moral values - was developed as a result of the ceaseless and heartbreaking struggle of their settlers, their own dedication to hard work, their traditional spirit of independence and, finally, the traditions and culture they brought with them.

There is no doubt in our mind that these energetic descendants of the Estonian community of Linda Hall will do a first class job of staging the centennial celebration. However, we of the larger community should support this undertaking and volunteer to assist, in whatever way we can.

Ever since the Linda people settled their district, they have been important supporters and contributors to the development and maturing of the town and County of Stettler. Their community members have travelled to Stettler and throughout the district to cater many. many comm~nity functions. They played active roles in Stettler's 50th, 60th and 75th anniversary celebrations, hosted activities during the 1991 Alberta Summer Games, to mention only a few examples of local service. And let's not overlook the personal contributions that individuals of Linda district have made. These people have held top positions in most service clubs in Stettler and at the national level, have been county councillors, Reeves, and volunteers. They have made a remarkable contribution to the cultural life of the community.

We as a newspaper will keep the community informed of the celebration plans as they develop. We encourage this community to volunteer and assist the Linda Hall planning committee, as we can be assured that they will suitably showcase their community and their town and county, "The Heart of Alberta".

Red Deer LIFE

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