Martin and Maria Oliver

Wedding photo of Maria Peet and Martin (Ebruk) Oliver on March 25, 1902. Martin and Maria (Peet) Oliver left Estonia in 1902 as a young newly married couple with a dream. Their dream was to own land, which would have been impossible in their home country.

Martin (1882-1965) and Maria (1884-1952) emigrated with about 40 other Estonians, arriving first at Montreal and then proceeding to Red Deer by train. In 1904 Martin and Maria were able to travel a further 100 miles by wagon to their farm in the Stettler area. They spent the rest of their lives there, working hard to support their large family (13 children) and prevailing despite numerous disasters such as hailstorms, fires and drought.

L to R: Martin holding Maria, mother Maria, Martha, Salmea, Jaan and Edward in the Stettler, Alberta area in 1915. All of the Oliver children were born at home and raised without outside help. Two of the children, Julia and William, died in infancy. The others were Martha, a teacher; Salmea, a nurse; Jaan, a grain buyer; Edward, a rancher in the Peace River area; Maria, a bookkeeper; Oscar, a mechanic; Alma, a teacher; Elvera, a bookkeeper and accountant; and Eileen, a secretary.

Martin was an active member of the community - a leader and innovator. He was one of the first farmers in the area to own a threshing machine, and sometimes went as far as Hobbema to harvest grain. Martin was president of the Linda Estonian Agricultural Society in the 1910s and 1920s. He served on the school board, the community hall board and municipal councils. He played in the Stettler band, and both Martin and Maria were actively involved in the direction and production of plays that were performed in several nearby communities.

Alberta's Estonian Heritage