Mai and Otto Reinglas

Mai Reinglas with her youngest grandson, Roy, in Australia in 1925. Mai and her husband Otto settled in Stettler, Alberta in 1903 and left for Australia in 1913. Mary (Mai) Kungas and Otto Reinglas were married in Finland in 1884 and moved to Russia in 1894. In 1903 they and their three children, William, Mick and Mai, immigrated to Red Deer via Liverpool and Montreal. They traveled in a covered wagon on the last leg of their journey to a homestead south of Stettler.

Mai and Otto could not afford to buy livestock when they first arrived, so Mai contributed to the family's income by growing cabbages and selling them to the butcher in Stettler, who made sauerkraut. The cabbage business earned her about $100 a year. She also had a loom that she used to make all the family's clothing. The men in the family often went away to work. Otto tried his hand at harness-making, but reportedly with not much success.

Otto's two brothers, Jakob and Anton Reinglas, immigrated with Mai and Otto and their children, and took out homesteads next to Mai and Otto's farm. Jakob died in 1910 and is buried in the Linda Hall cemetery near Stettler. Anton lived in mental institutions in Alberta for about fifty years, until his death in Edmonton in 1963.

Mary Reinglas, daughter of Otto and Mai Reinglas and Andrew Hill's wedding in Stettler, Alberta in 1912. In 1912 Mai and Otto's daughter Mary (Mai) married Andrew Hill, a Finn. The couple were married in Stettler but immigrated to Australia immediately afterwards. They took up a land grant at Sandy Creek in Queensland. The subtropical climate was a dramatic change from the freezing cold winters in Alberta, where frostbite was not uncommon.

Otto Reinglas headstone in Goomboorian, Australia. He died in 1915. Otto and Mai followed their daughter and son-in-law to Australia a year later, bringing with them Mai's brothers, William and Mick. Otto and William took out land grants near Mai and Andrew's farm but Otto died only nine months after arriving in Australia. His wife continued to operate the farm for a number of years. When she decided to retire, she sold the farm and moved in with her son William, who had never married. William and Mai both died in Australia in 1939.

Mick worked for a photographer in Gympie, a nearby town. He married Iris Cathcart. In 1922 Mary and Andrew moved to another nearby piece of land at Mother Mountain.

Farming in Australia was as hard as in Alberta - the days were filled with tasks such as building your own house, clearing forest off the land, washing by hand, milking cows and other endless chores.

Donna Farry is an descendant of the Reinglas family and lives in Australia. She visited the Stettler area in Alberta in fall 2010 in search of family members who were pioneer settlers in the area. Among Mai and Otto's descendants are many lawyers, doctors, nurses, teachers, artists, mechanics, engineers and farmers.

Alberta's Estonian Heritage