Alberta Estonian Settlements

The first Estonian settlers arrived on the southeastern shore of Sylvan Lake (then known as Snake Lake) in spring of 1899. By 1903 a total of 62 Estonian settlers had arrived here. At the same time, increased competition from homesteaders from Finland, Sweden and French-Canada prevented Estonian settlers from acquiring contiguous quarter-sections of land. Thus newly-arrived settlers journeyed westward and eastward in search of suitable land for settlements.

A group of settlers from the Võru area in southeastern part of Estonia (Livonia) found suitable land in the Medicine Valley area some 20 km west and north of Sylvan Lake and settled there starting in fall of 1902. Another group reconnoitered east and south of Sylvan Lake and eventually decided to settle in the Stettler/Big Valley area over 100 km to the east in 1904. In the same year, Estonian settlers from Crimea via South Dakota arrived in the Barons area in southern Alberta. Smaller Estonian settlements were established in Foremost, Walsh and Peace River.

Alberta Estonian Settlement

Medicine Valley:
1899: First Estonian settlers arrive at Sylvan Lake
1902: Estonians settle at Medicine Valley
1916: 160 Estonian settlers farm 10,000 acres of land
1920s and 30s: 46 new Estonian settlers arrive in Medicine Valley
1948-1954: 58 Estonian immigrants arrive
1965: 74 Estonians living in Medicine Valley area
1990s: Approximately 10 Estonian families living in Medicine Valley

Other Estonian settlements in Alberta:
1899 - Sylvan Lake: 61 Estonians settled by 1903
1904 - Stettler: 171 Estonians settled by 1910
1904 - Big Valley: 15 Estonian families living here in 1905
1904 - Barons: 77 Estonians settled by 1908
1904 - Walsh: 12 Estonian families living here in 1907
1907 - Foremost: 9 Estonian homesteads started by 1912
1924 - Peace River: 30 Estonians living here by the 1920s

Alberta's Estonian Heritage