George and Miina Lustwerk

Anna Lustwerk at Lacombe, Alberta in 1915. George (Juri) and Miina Lustwerk and daughters Anna and Martha left Estonia a year before World War I broke out. There was room for only three passengers on the ship that took the family to Brazil, so Anna went to Barons, Alberta, via New York and Lethbridge, where she worked on the Erdman farm.

Later Anna found employment with a family in Calgary as a nanny, travelling with them to places like Catalina island in 1917. She worked at the Chateau Lake Louise as a pastry chef and soon opened her own hat shop in Lacombe. Anna graduated from the Canadian Junior College in Lacombe in 1922.

In Estonia, George had operated a fur trading company across the Baltic countries and Siberia, where the company had hunting and trading lodges. The furs were sent to Germany by boat and traded for cloth, pots and other things Lustwerk's customers wanted or needed.

The Lustwerk family was reunited in the 1920s when George and Miina moved to Barons, having decided the climate in Brazil was not to their liking. They rented some land there and established a farm.

Milna and George Lustwerk, flanked by granddaughters Evelyn (left) and  Loretta (right) in front of their home in Bonanza, Alberta in 1946. When the Lustwerks learned that homesteads were available in the Peace River area, George and Anna each acquired quarter sections of land at Bonanza, a small community west of the Town of Peace River. They built a house, barn, chicken coop, ice house and even a sauna/workshop. They grew a garden and worked very hard hauling water, chopping wood, preserving food, making thick wool comforters from wool sheared from the sheep, and coping with all the other back-breaking and endless tasks that Alberta pioneers faced.

Anna Lustwerk and Stanley Tompkins in 1952. Anna married Stanley Tompkins in 1931 and they raised three children. She married Stan Tompkins, another homesteader in the Bonanza area, and the couple had two daughters, Loretta and Evelyn. Stan and Anna are buried together in Bonanza.

In 1949 the Lustwerk family sponsored a family from Estonia, Herman and Sigrid Tiislar and their son Enn. The Tiislars helped George and Miina on the farm for a year and then moved to Toronto.

Alberta's Estonian Heritage