Riina and Alexander Krisby

Riina and Alexander Krisby wedding in 1911. Riina (Katrina) Peet, born in Estonia in 1891, moved to Russia with her family in 1894 because the feudal property they were farming had been sold to new owners. Riina's father died in Russia and her mother, Anna, later married an Estonian cabinet maker, Anders Negols. The Negols party - Riina, her mother and stepfather and siblings, along with three friends - traveled to Red Deer via Halifax in 1905. The family homesteaded near Linda Hall (the Stettler area).

Riina and Alexander Krisby were married in the Stettler area in 1911.

Alexander, an Estonian born in Russia in 1885, witnessed the shooting of his whole family while still a small child. He was cared for by neighbours and spent some part of his early life in Finland. He immigrated to Colorado in about 1907, later worked on the docks in Galveston, Texas, and then made his way to Alberta, where he met and married Riina.

L-R: John, Alexander, Anna (standing behind), Lilly and Riina in 1921. Riina and Alexander had three children: Anna, born in 1912; John, born in 1914; and Lily, born in 1916. The couple had a hard life, with frequent moves and only limited success at earning a living. When they were first married, they worked on Riina's parents' farm while Alex built a sod house on a homestead near Hanna. But by 1917 or 1918 they were back in Galveston. They did not prosper there (and had two children who died in infancy during that time), so returned to Stettler after about three years. Alex found work laying sewer lines and later worked in coal mines near Big Valley (near Stettler), while Riina did domestic work. In the mid-1920s they bought some land near the Wooded Hills School (also near Stettler), where they lived off the land and worked very hard. They lived there until 1935, when they sold the farm and moved to Creston, BC, with their son John.

After Alex died suddenly in 1937, Riina worked as a housekeeper and in domestic service in Calgary and Vancouver, where she lived with her son John. She died in 1971.

The Krisby family faced a major challenge, both financially and emotionally, when a milk wagon ran over their young daughter Lily's hip. After spending approximately three years in and out of Calgary hospitals, Lily came back home to stay at age 11, and by age 14 she was able to walk without crutches. She married August Kerbes in 1933, a farmer near Big Valley.

Anna became a nurse, training at the Royal Alex Hospital and graduating in 1932. She married Ben Taylor in 1936. John, who was a realtor and machinist, married Ellen Chahley in 1948.

Alberta's Estonian Heritage