Freedom, Land & Legacy Heritage Book

The AEHS Heritage Book: Freedom, Land and Legacy: Alberta's Estonians 1899-2009. Richly illustrated 298-page book about the 110-year history of Alberta's Estonians. Freedom, Land and Legacy: Alberta's Estonians, 1899-2009 (2010) brings together for the first time a variety of source materials describing the stories of Estonians who immigrated to Alberta. Compiled by Dave Kiil and Eda McClung as a celebration of the 110-year history of Alberta's Estonians, this richly illustrated 298-page book is organized into two sections. Part One describes the legacy of the early pioneers. Part Two documents the stories of post-World War II immigrants and extends to present-day activities and achievements. The book also includes articles that had never before been translated into English.

As Tamara Palmer Seiler writes in the introduction, "although they were a small group, [the Estonians] seemed to defy easy categorization." This fascinating community brought with them influences from western, northern and eastern Europe. And, while facing the extreme challenges of carving out a place for themselves in a new land, they maintained their exceptional passion for literature, music and politics.

Palmer also highlights - in addition to the Estonians' success in dealing with the incredible difficulties that all Alberta pioneers faced at the turn of the 20th century - how this group of people had technical ingenuity, how Estonian women made an enormous contribution and how the importance of community is a major theme running through all the stories. Another ongoing theme is memories of the homeland, both bad and good, and how that shaped the way Estonian immigrants lived. They were thrilled to be Canadians and have freedom and land. They were also culturally attached - at least in the early years - to another place.

A major source of the inspiration for this project was Estonian President Lennart Meri, who visited Alberta in 2000 during the celebration of a century of Estonian settlement in this province. Meri was fascinated by the stories about adventurous pioneers who braved hardships to find a new life, yet never forgot their roots. He suggested that the people of Estonia today know little of the history of Estonians abroad, and that the situation should be remedied. Subsequently, The Estonian Ministry of Education and Research, Compatriot Program (Eesti Vabariigi Haridus-ja Teadusministeerium) provided financial support for the project, along with the National Estonian Foundation of Canada (Eesti Sihtkapital Kanadas), and the Canadian and Alberta governments.

For information about how to obtain a copy of the book, go to

Alberta's Estonian Heritage