Updated March 24, 2017
(Text and images on this site are copyrighted and not to be used without permission.)
All events take place at 6520 Oak Street, Vancouver, B.C. V6P 3Z2 unless otherwise indicated. (Estonian Church Foundation (Community Centre) Tel. 604-263-4783 -Olev Rumm, Chair)
May 13 10:00 a.m. Clean up day at Mäeotsa
May 20 2:00 p.m. May Party hosted by Kilplased Folk Dancers
(Maipidu) - Mission
May 27 Submission deadline for the Summer Postipoiss
Postipoisi suve numbri kaastöö tähtpäev
June 9 7:30 p.m. Vancouver Estonian Choir Spring Concert
Segakoori Läänetuul kevad kontsert
June 24 1:00 p.m. St. John's Day Celebration
Jaanipäev - Mission
to Sept. 4 33rd West Coast Estonian Days Festival in
Los Angeles, California
XXXIII Lääneranniku Eesti Päevad
Please visit: www.vesbc.com - www.facebook.com/vesbc for the latest news
Instagram - @vesbc and Twitter - @vaneestiselts
Estonian Society Chair: Thomas Pajur
Watercolour painting by artist Enda Bardell. http://endabardell.com/works
August 5 - 9, 2015 - XXXII LEP 2015 - 32nd West Coast Estonian Days XXXII
Lääneranniku Eesti Päevad http://lep2015.com/about-the-festival/
Kuldne Klubi Pensioners' Club meets Meie Kodu every
second Wednesday at noon from September to end of May.
Membership annual fee is $5.00.
Photo: Thomas Pajur - July 2014 taken in Estonian Song Festival
Jaanipäev 2014 - Photo: Thomas Pajur in Mission, B.C.
Photos of Sweden by Bo Borgmark - Gränna Harbour
Estonian Orthodox Church
West Coast Estonians Days' Photos held in San Francisco June 28 to July 1, 2013
Photo: Kiino Villand
Photo taken by Rev. Heldur Kajaste at Estonian United Baptist Church Vancouver on February 24, 2013
Eesti Kultuuri Ühing Kanadas - EKÜK, Society for the Advancement of Estonian Studies - SAESC, Juta Kitching, Chair
Kilplased at European Festival May 2011
Martin Kuuskmann, bassoonist
Kuldse Klubi Pensioners' Picnic photos - June 2, 2010 at Kembi talu in Surrey, B.C.
Jaak & Kärtu
Keerutajad - Rahvatantsiad
Preparations for memorial service in Tallinn March 25, 2010
Over 20,000 candles were lit to commemorate the innocent people who were deported to Siberia by the Communist Soviet Union in 1949. More than 20,000 people were deported on March 25, mostly women and children. The youngest person taken away was 3 days old and the oldest was 96 years old. Earlier in 1941 not less than 25,000 people were deported to Siberia, in 1944 approximately 60,000 were taken and in 1949 another 21,000 sent to forced-labour camps in Siberia. Some 70,000 Estonians managed to escape to primarily Sweden and Germany. During the second world war Estonia lost approximately 200,000 people. On August 23, 1989, the 50th anniversary of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, 2 million people (Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians) formed a human chain from Tallinn to Vilnius protesting Soviet rule. Freedom was won in August 1991.
Habitation in Estonia goes back to 9,000 BC in the southern part of the country and 7,500 BC in the northern part so the country has a very old history and Estonians have much to reflect on.
Recommend Si-Si Restaurant in Pärnu, Estonia at 21 Supeluse - delicious Italian cusine at affordable prices.
Also recommend: Karluti Hostel, Pärna 23, 93814 Kuressaare, Saaremaa, Estonia - email@example.com
July 5, 2009
Laulupidu Photos in Tallinn, Estonia - over 20,000 singers in the choral choir on stage
XVIII Tantsupidu fotos - July 3, 2009, Tallinn Folkdance
Folk-dance Festival in Tallinn 2009
Paltry words cannot capture the magnificence of over 7,000 folk-dancers’ enthusiastic performance and superlatives fail to express the full impact of richness levied on spectators. The success of this event held July 3, 4 and 5 was due equally to 45 dance leaders/choreographers who wove together a show of epic proportion.
The central theme was naval, waves, wind, boats and all else that consummates the relationship of Estonians and the sea . The eye was not able to capture all before it, scanned back and forth attempting to seize as much as possible of the grand spectacle. It was a landscape of visual art created by moving armies of elegance. Astounding in its enormity, intricacy and attention to colour co-ordination it was nationalism in motion as waves of radiance undulated before our eyes...make that emotionally teary eyes. Intellect has difficulty comprehending the immense effort that went into such a production. To choreographers, dancers and all who contributed, thank you for infusing our hearts and souls with such resplendence.
Esto 2009 - Parade in Münster, Germany June 28, 2009
June 20th - St. John's Day in Mission 2009
Sitting in front row: Elmar Magnus and Ants Raidma. Second row left to right: Osvald Kuutan, Theodore Wesik, Captain Jakob Suksdorf, Jakob Kembi, Ardaljon Mäekivi and Aleksander Linnamäe. Back row left: Arkadi Mirk and Eduard Jaani. (1949)
Pier 21 and the Pärnu Ship
11 Jun 2009 ©Eva Vabasalu
Halifax has an old salt and ale history dating from 1749, one of the oldest cities on the eastern Canadian shore to welcome seafarers and colonists to its natural deep ice-free harbour. It's history is intriguing.
Take December 6, 1917 during World War I when two ships were in Halifax’s inner harbour. The Imo, a Norwegian ship, was behind schedule and in a hurry to leave. The Mont-Blanc, a French munitions ship, had arrived from New York the day before but was held back having arrived too late to pass through the submarine nets. Allowed through the next morning, the Mont Blanc was not flying the mandated red flag to identify it was carrying highly combustible materials: 200 tons of TNT, and 2,300 tons of Picric Acid.
In those days ships in the inner harbour were known to sometimes pass each other on the wrong side. Of course had the Imo known what deadly cargo the Mont Blanc was carrying it is unlikely it would have pressed to pass the Mont Blanc on the wrong side even though the Mont Blanc had signalled back that it was not changing course. There was a collision and an uncontainable fire broke out on the Mont Blanc. Panicked, the Mont Blanc captain and crew abandoned ship in a rowboat to a nearby island leaving the vessel to drift. As the burning ship slowly crept toward the downtown area a crowd gathered at the harbourfront enjoying the unusual spectacle.
Just after 9:00 a.m. a volcanic explosion sent more than a kilometre-high blast of firebombs skyward. The black rain of carbon and jetsam fell heavily on the city setting it afire, killing 2,000 people and wounding thousands in a city of 50,000. The explosion was heard 100 kilometres away and fragments of the ship landed 5 kilometres away. The old terminal Pier 2 was damaged by the explosion and was subsequently rebuilt. A second fire destroyed it. Rebuilt in 1928 and renamed Pier 21 the terminal’s busiest volume of sea traffic took place right after World War II. Since 1939 the Department of National Defence had managed Pier 21.
After Sweden had accepted 22,000 Baltic refugees from 1944 to 1946 it was being coerced to return them to their occupied countries. Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians sought escape on small ships such as the Walnut, Sarabande, Pärnu, Amanda, Gladstone and Samaria arriving in Halifax without proper entry papers. 500,000 immigrants and 1000,000 refugees passed through Pier 21 in the years immediately following the war.
The Walnut and Sarabande were reconverted trawlers turned into immigrant ships. The minesweeper Pärnu, built in 1942, 115 ft. in length and 23 ft. in breadth was constructed of wood, also refurbished.
My personal interest lies with the Pärnu as it was one of the ‘little boats’ my uncle Captain Jakob Suksdorf navigated from Malmö to Pier 21, arriving with the Estonian flag flying on August 2, 1949. On board were 154 people, including Capt. Suksdorf's wife Laine and two daughters as well as many Estonian Vancouverites including the Kembi family. Jakob Kembi was a part owner of the Pärnu ship. (If anyone has any journals, photos or memorabilia relating to the journey please send it to: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Canadian Immigration closed down Pier 21 in 1971. In 1988 the Pier 21 Society was born and on Canada Day 1999, Pier 21 became a National Historic Site Museum. ©Eva Vabasalu
Photos from European Festival held on Saturday, May 30th, 2009.
Marje Suurkask, Juta Kitching, Alar Suurkask and Edda Davis
Vancouveri Eesti Pensionäride Ühing "KULDNE KLUBI" Emadepäeval - May 13, 2009
Vasakult esimene rida: Helmi Lepnurm, Artur Proos, Laine Loo, Edda Davis, Juta Sark, Erika Tampere, Vilma Weiman, Niina Peterson, Elmar Tallermo, Erli Lepik
Vasakult teine rida: Tarmo Viitre, Kalev Lillak, Olev Matiesen (Rootsist), Laine Viitre, Leida Nurmsoo, Hedy Wister, Inge Lauga, Meeta Wesik, Rein Vasara, Aleks Aavik, Anne Lausmaa
Vasakult kolmas rida: Laida Telder, Maie Remmelg, Asta Sprogis, Ilmar Rumberg, Sirje Rumberg, Leida Rei, Viivi Vink, Villi Vink, Meida Kütt, Endel Kütt, Helmi Selde, Krista Tanner
Vasakult neljas rida: Teas Tanner, Hans Rand, Hans Selde, Sigrid Zilberts, Helle Sepp, Juta Kitching, Viivi Alexander, Aino Uus, Väino Jõemets, Eva Vabasalu, Raul Vabasalu, Aare Vabasalu, Vello Püss, Harri Talve, Viktor Remmelg
Estonian Folk-dancers: a rare breed
On Saturday, April 25th Keerutajad put on its annual performance of song and folk-dance. There are 20 in the group, average age 65, who faithfully practise every Monday night through spring fall and winter accompanied by pianist Tarmo Viitre. Our folk-dance instructor, Enno Paat, pointed out we were the largest such group in Canada. The second largest being the younger Vancouver folk-dance group, the Kilplased....who by the way dance like heavenly spirits.
Not only are the Keerutajad and Kilplased the biggest folk-dance group in Canada, astonishingly they appear to be the only two active dance groups left! Few folk-dance groups seem to have survived in North America aside from the Pillerkaar in the Greater Washington DC metro area and those in Seattle, Portland and Los Angeles. It’s possible that Lääneranniku Eesti Päevad, the biannual West Coast Estonian Days' cultural programme has kept the traditional folk-dancing on its feet so to speak. The next such Days will be held in Seattle, Washington from August 26 to 30, 2009 where skirts will twirl and rustle. In 2011 the Days will take place in Portland a pulsating Estonian cultural hive renown for its choral choir and superb folk-dancing troupe. One year they danced in our old barn-like structure built next to the woodland giant firs of Mission, B.C. leaving us with the most exquisite memory of folk-dance perfection.
Raul, Eva, Vello & Malle 2003
Estonian swing - without the wooden bar at the top it could do a 360 revolution.
ESTONIAN INDEPENDENCE DAY - February 24, 2009
Helmi Lepnurm & Laine Viitre
ESTONIAN INDEPENDENCE DAY - Eesti Selts aktus photos
"And what is wrong if an Estonian learns the German language and becomes a learned man, as long as he remains true to his people in his heart....I have been fortunate because it has been so with me and I am really proud that I can call myself an Estonian." Friedrich Reinhold Kreuzwald.
Meie Kodu doors
Making Black Sausages
A traditional Estonian dish eaten Christmas Eve is Black Sausage also known as Blood Sausage, a dish no stranger to other parts of northern Europe.
Each year a huge batch of sausages are made at the Kembi Talu in Surrey, B.C. beginning with Jaak Selde doing the bulk of the purchasing. Kärtu begins with 30 lb. of uncooked barley, 30 lb. of chopped pork fat, one lb. of marjoram, 1 1/2 cup of salt, 1 1/2 cup of pepper, 36 large onions chopped and 2 gallons of certified blood. She cooks the barley in a very large pot, later transferring the barley to a larger vat in order to add and mix the ingredients together. No small feat. The mixing is done in two stages as the ingredient load is large.
The sausage mixture is then fed into a commercial sausage-making machine and the casings are put onto the machine nozzle. Three bundles of casings are rinsed, a two hour job in itself. Six people flatten out the sausages and tie them into links - which reminds me, it takes a good half hour to cut enough string into 3" lengths. After tying, the sausages are pricked (to prevent bursting) and simmered over the stove in hot water. The sausages are removed from the water and cooled on racks. After cooling they are ready for baking, about half an hour to 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Serves 500. (Don't forget to copy out the recipe.)
Marje, Aino, Kärtu, Laida, Helmi, Raul, Edda, (half-hidden, Siina)
Kärtu simmering sausages
Raul, Edda and Siina (and famed sausage machine)
Poika eyeing the sausages.
Photo above taken in Los Angeles, Calif. 2008
Alar & Marje Suurkask in Florida May 2008
Rediscovering My Baltic Roots - ©Marje Suurkask
My husband Alar and I arrived in Estonia in the middle of the crises in Georgia, a former Russian Republic. The first thing I noticed after a four year hiatus was the airport had almost doubled in size and there was no passport control. Driving off in our rented Skoda we noticed the lack of potholes, once a common sight, and that the driving habits of the locals had changed in that motorists actually stopped for pedestrians. My overall impressions and memories remained in tact; there was still the familiar drabness of the former Soviet republic’s occupation and many homes appeared in need of renovation.
At the same time there were some fabulous homes, numerous WiFi outlets and there were many luxury cars on the roads. Shopping centers flaunted marble floors and designer-label boutiques. The department stores were full of luxury European items and laptops were seen everywhere. I was especially impressed with the small luxury hotels in Tallinn such as the Hotell Schlössle (photo below) a home away from home for the Queen and the Emperor of Japan, and the spot where our daughter Liisa treated us to a pricey lunch.
The town hall square in medieval Tallinn was filled with tourists due to the Scandinavian-Baltic cruise ships that stop in Tallinn en route to St. Petersburg. Watching tourists order Estonian food like head-cheese and sauerkraut was amusing. Popular souvenirs sold were wooden beer steins, amber jewellery and linen goods. The Estonian chocolate factory Kalev did a brisk trade as did Saaremaa vodka. Apparently our Finnish neighbours still appreciate our lower liquor prices.
The new art gallery KUMU was very impressive having won many awards for its architectureal design. It had an extensive art collection dating from the 18th Centtury to the present, in particular I enjoyed the paintings of Eerik Haamer whose focus was on the expatriates especially those who fled to Sweden.
There was also a showing of modern artists namely Paul Kondas and his impressive Strawberry Eaters.
Many of our friends were anxious about the Georgian crisis concerned that the Russians would invade Estonia under the pretext that its Russian citizens needed protection. Wouldn’t it be ironic they said if Estonia was invaded while you were visiting. The mood was lightened when the Estonian athletes, Gerd Kanter brought home Olympic gold for discuss throwing and the silver medal rowers returned home were lavished with praise and monetary awards.
A highlight was the wedding we attended near my hometown of Pärnu. During our time there we stayed at the Tervise Paradiis, a spa hotel, on the beach which we found very comfortable and reasonably priced. Another high point was attending the night Concert celebrating the 20th year of the singing revolution and the thrill of hearing 30,000 people sing while the breeze waved the blue, black and white flags. Without doubt we’ll be attending next year’s song festival on the outskirts of Tallinn.
Alar in Kadriorg Park, Tallinn his old stomping grounds.
Below - Alar at Valge Rand near Pärnu
Above - Marje and relative on Kihnu Island travelling by motor scooter, a common method of transportation.
Sandstone cliff on Ahja River (Taevaskoja)
Taevaskoda - Devonian sandstone escarpment - about 360 million years old
from way back
Baltic Northern Klint and other Escarpments
Many theories abound as to the origins of the formation of the Baltic Northern Klint, the how and why of it, but largely undisputed is that it is an erosional escarpment which begins in the Baltic Sea south of Õland Island, travels northward then curves eastward through Northern Estonia submerging underground south of Lake Ladoga in Russia. The Klint's bedrock is Cambrian sedimentary sandstone and clay created 540 million years ago and is overlain with gradients of Ordovician limestone over an approximate 90 million year period. The Baltic Klint is 1200 kilometres long, its width 3-5 km. at the narrow western end expanding to 40 km. in places eastward. It's highest point is 55.6 metres at Ontika in East Viru County. There are 4 main sections of the escarpment not all visible to the human eye as it snakes in and out of sea and terrain: Õland Klint, Baltic Sea Klint, North Estonian Klint and the Ingermanland Klint.
The oldest forests in Estonia are Klint forests. Alvars (organic growth in thin soil on limestone plains), as well as gorges (palaeoincisions) and 33 water descents abound on the North Estonian Klint. Valaste is the highest waterfall at approx. 28 m. and its canyon showcases the variegated hues of the rock's veneer. Early records of watermills erected on rapids and cascades date back to 1241, and in the 1920's a rush of small hydro-power stations appeared on waterfalls. In 1955 the enormous flow of the Narva Waterfall was redirected to the turbines of the Narva Hydropower Station. About 2 or 3 days a year they open the barricades and allow it to run au natural.
In the last two decades large tracts of Landscape Reserves have been established to protect the North Estonian Klint a stretch of 300 km. from east of Osmussaar Island to Narva. Not only is the Klint majestically beautiful, but its stalwart ridge plunges down 100 m. below the water table to the sea floor making it responsible for the fine harbours on its northern shores including Tallin's harbour. At Pakri Cape the Klint stands 24 m. above sea level exhibiting its polychromatic layers of grey limestone, green sandstone, dark brown shale and clays of blue and beige.....a most resplendent work of nature. Other points of grandeur can be admired at Harju plateau Väike-Pakri Island (13m.), Türisalu (30m.) and Rannamõisa (35m.), also the eastern cliffs at Voka (44m.) and Päite (41m.) to mention just a few.
There are numerous escarpments worldwide most notably in Europe and the United States. In Ontario, Devil's Rock, a granite escarpment east of Sudbury and north of Algonquin Park is 2,200 million years old. Another contender for attention is the capped limestone Niagara Escarpment winds westward from Rochester, N.Y. around Lake Ontario forming a deep gorge at Niagara and continues through Hamilton (nicknamed "the Mountain") and up through Milton, the Bruce Peninsula, Manitoulin Island and Michigan before it turns southward into Wisconsin finishing near the Illinois border not far from Chicago. It is l,609 km. long and at its peak l89m. The gorge and falls at the Niagara escarpment is a famous honeymoon and tourist destination renown worldwide as Niagara Falls.
Pasture of Old Articles
Link contains all the following articles:
A Miracle for Leah
Amazing Grace and Beyond the Sunset
Darkness Before Dawn
Downside of Advantage & Rembembering Brian
Estonian Folk-dancers: A Rare Breed
Ernst Julius Öpik - the man
Estonia Ferry (1 of 2)
Fathoms down in the Baltic Sea
Gutenberg's Genius Paved the Way for Luther & Estonian Literacy
Hemingway and Two Estonians
Independence Day in Vancouver - Behind the Scenes
Letters of Emilie & Jaan 1914 - 1920
Lutheran Issues: a timely discourse
Moon not to blame for Titanic sinking
Moon not to blame for Titanic sinking - Part II
Mother's Day in Vancouver
Our Country Within
Portrait of a 20th Century Estonian
Remembering the Estonian Ferry (2 of 2)
Tango - Argentine and Finnish
Toronto Churches and Roads
Tribute to Valdeko Weemees
Viru Bard & Vändra Nightingale
Waltergate - A Brief History of Lutheran Church Troubles
Pasture of Old Articles
Lyrics to 97 Estonian Songs
guide to the Estonians
by Hilary Bird, Lembit Öpik and Ulvi Mustmaa
United Kingdom - the book is available directly through:
The international standard book number for an English copy is ISBN: 978-1-1906042-30-1 and may be ordered through your local book store.
Hilary Bird, writer extraordinaire, lives in Tartu, Estonia. For an interview of Hilary in Estonian please click on the following link.
The following is the English interview by Mati Soomre of Hilary:
MS: Are you English, British or Estonian?
HB: My birth mother was Estonian, my birth father was Lithuanian. I was adopted and grew up with by a Welsh mother and an English father. I am a citizen of the world.
MS: When and how did you find out that you might have Estonian family?
HB: I was born in the UK in 1948 as Anneliise Meikar but became Hilary Bird soon after. After my British parents died in 1983 I searched for my birth parents. In 1993 a geneologist found that my mother was Estonian and my father Lithuanian. Alice Meikar, my mother, had died in 1991. With information from Rahvusarkiiv I found my Estonian family in 1998. I do not know the name of my father.
MS: Some Estonians want to emigrate, among other places, to the UK, but you have come the other way. Why?
HB: I enjoy the peace and quiet of Tartu. I was stressed in a frantic, overcrowded UK. I did not enjoy my work although I had good friends and these are a joy anywhere! Some young Estonians see no hope of improving their quality of life here. This is a political issue. Others believe "the west" is simply more exciting. This is a personal issue. "All that glisters is not gold" (says Shakespeare) but I never listened to old folks when I was young so why should they?
MS: What sort of Maaleht reader do you write for?
HB: I write for readers who like serendipity - finding something good or useful while not looking for it.
MS: This year Maaleht published your translation of Lydia Koidula's "A mother's heart" for Mother's Day. What else have you translated?
HB: I have translated over 75 writers.
MS: Where does your amazing knowledge of Estonian literature come from?
HB: I am financially independent and have time to research. My reading skills are good and I am a mole who finds much information about Estonia in English histories of our colonial rulers. My friend had the idea to write an anthology of Estonian literature in English in 2003 but she has moved on and I like Siurulind (the Blue Bird), I fly on alone. I was once afraid of this project (Estonians critics can be fire breathing dragons). Then I adopted the approach of Edward FitzGerald who translated the Persian poet Omar Khayyam - "above all, a thing must live. Better a live sparrow than a stuffed eagle." It worked.
MS: What stage is the anthology of Estonian literature at?
HB: About 90% is written - a history, biographies and works from the oral tradition to 1990. Someone else can do post modernism! I am looking for a publisher – is anyone interested?
Maaleht is a weekly newspaper with the largest circulation (44, 000) in Estonia. More than 122 000 Estonians read Maaleht every week. It is the only national newspaper whose circulation has risen for the past three years and, in addition, the number of subscribers (27 500) has grown steadily for the last three years. Weekly newspapers are mostly read at home and more than 50% of the readers pick Maaleht up more than once.
Maaleht is read all over Estonia and is characterised by a calm, mature style and user- friendly wording. The paper follows in a long tradition of an Estonian weekly aimed at country folks - The Tartu Peasants Weekly Paper (Tarto maa rahwa Näddali-Leht) was first published in 1806. Major issues addressed include central government, municipal and rural economics, social problems and education.
Eesti Selts Vancouver -
Eeesti Selts BYLAWS -
Estonian Archives Vancouver -
Estonian Life/Eeesti Elu -
Estonian Church Foundation Bylaws -
Estonian Evangelical Lutheran
Church (Toronto) BYLAWS -
Estonian Orthodox Church Vancouver -
Map of Estonia -
Articles of Eva Vabasalu -
(Olson Avenue in Mission)
General inquiries: email@example.com
Estonians will never be great in number, but we can be great through our spirit. - Jakob Hurt (1839 - 1907) Estonian folklorist.