Amelia Herrmann, Mark Spokowski & Liisbet Valter-Kalm sorting through the Eesti Maja art collection.
70 Years of Eesti Maja
Friday, 10 December 2021 19:00
Estonian Life No. 49 2021
January 2022 marks the 70th anniversary of Estonian House in Toronto Ltd. as an organization. The entity was founded January 9, 1952 when Enn Salurand (Journalist), Georg Orav (Realtor), Arnold Ketta (Bookkeeper), Otto Roos (Bookkeeper), Nikolai Bockfeldt (Radio Serviceman), Mart Tarum (Barrister) and Hugo Männik (Clerk) got together to be the initial subscribers to the charter that established this corporation.
A total of 310 individuals and organizations joined in this ambitious initiative during its first year of operations, by purchasing shares. While most of these individuals have now passed away, it is with gratitude that we remember their contributions that serve our Estonian community still today. Eesti Maja is open and where revenues go
Eesti Maja has been following a phased reopening approach from pandemic-related closures, in line with provincial directives and guidance. Several events have been held at Eesti Maja, including Korp! Vironia recently hosting Perekonnaõhtu
(Family Evening). A few holiday parties are planned for the grand hall over the next couple of weeks and it is wonderful to be able to again rent space for these happy gatherings, especially when these are Estonian organizations.
Eesti Maja’s lease with the new owner officially lasts until the end of May, 2022 and though the leaseback will continue onward, negotiations for what the blocks of extension will be are underway. The goal remains to facilitate a single move for tenants, events and activities from Eesti Maja to KESKUS – updates will be shared as soon as they are available.
All Eesti Maja rental revenues accrue to Eesti Maja and are necessary so that Eesti Maja can pay the operating expenses of the house. Please continue to use Eesti Maja for your activities and events!
Cost of your spring term activities
Given the uncertainty around new COVID variants, Eesti Maja will provide maximum flexibility to the community groups that use Eesti Maja to ensure the space is available to be used as much as requested. Specifically, for the forthcoming spring term Eesti Maja will only charge Estonian community groups a usage charge based on actual use, rather than requiring commitments to block off a full semester of space in advance as has been the norm. The feedback for this arrangement thus far is encouraging, helping community groups have the flexibility to return to holding in-person activities in the house at the pace with which they are comfortable.
We thank the community groups for their efforts and work over the last year, as we know it has required quite a lot of preparation and planning. Summer students sorted, toted, then sorted some more
Amelia Herrmann and Kairi Taul-Hemingway with boxes ... and more boxes.
Eesti Maja qualified for the Canada Summer Jobs Program subsidy, which enabled employment of three students, Amelia Herrmann, Victoria Hutchings and Mark Spokowski, for an eight-week period as archivists to help with over half a century of accumulation of documents, books, objects and ephemera. These three were instrumental in helping with a number of projects in this vein.
One of the biggest was to move the EKN archives, also known as Eesti Keskarhiiv
(Estonian Central Archive), from the basement of the house and over to Tartu College which has environmental controls in place to ensure the long-term preservation of our community’s documented history. Piret Noorhani, VEMU’s Chief Archivist and her team organized logistics and oversaw the three students. Kairi Taul-Hemingway delivered 475 boxes, which the students then assembled, filled and moved out of Eesti Maja to VEMU during this eight-week period. This put a good dent in the effort although the work is not finished yet.
The three students were also involved with helping the Gaid ja Skaut Malevad
(Guide and Scout groups) organize and move items that needed to go to Kotkajärve
or to VEMU, down from the 4th floor Noorteruum
(Youth Room). They were also involved with helping Estonian School with its sorting and discarding.
An additional project was sorting out the reality of the TEMKK (Estonian House Art Committee) artwork collection, which work is now completed. Although a large majority of the work had been documented in the past, the students were involved with updating and cataloguing the current works so that the next step, the right-sizing of the collection can be undertaken. Thank you to Rahvusarhiiv
(Estonian National Archives) for supporting this work, with Rein Kuris and Ellen Valter overseeing this project and Liisbet Valter-Kalm for managing parts of the project as well.
A big thank you to the three wonderful summer interns: Amelia, Victoria and Mark, for their creativity and hard work during the summer months. All 3 are actively involved in the Estonian community, and we are so happy that they signed up to help Eesti Maja at this time of transition!
The summer students also brought some of their own ingenuity and imagination to the job. A creative project that the students developed was a full replica of Eesti Maja in an online Minecraft setting. This Eesti Maja Minecraft will help serve as a memory of Eesti Maja for the younger crowd. This was released in September and is still available on Eesti Maja’s facebook page here!A very warm thank you to the Temiseväs
Leena ja Matti Temisevä retire after 15 years of caring for Eesti Maja.
Eesti Maja would like to extend our sincere gratitude to Leena and Matti Temisevä, who decided to retire and will be moving to Suomi Koti. Matti has been a familiar face around the Estonian House for over fifteen years, and has been responsible for a lot of behind-the-scenes work in set-up and take-down for events, as well as closing the house in the evenings. Leena has also been a big help in opening the house in the mornings and filling in with office work.
A retirement party was held for the Temiseväs in early November, attended by Eesti Maja staff, board and tenants. Matti and Leena have lived next door to the Estonian House since 2007, and have supported the community with their dedication, friendly manner and steady dependability. Their tireless work over the years has been commendable and will be missed.
With the Temiseväs’ departure, it is terrific that one of our summer interns, Mark Spokowski, has agreed to help out with some of the closing duties at the Estonian House.Some more thank-yous
A big thank you to Eesti Maja’s Maintenance Manager, Roul Martjak, for designing and overseeing the effort to ensure reliable heat in the old Chester Schoolhouse portion of Eesti Maja. The steam boiler functioned only intermittently last winter and the board wished to mitigate the risks of breakdown this winter. The vintage Old Schoolhouse steam boiler has now been replaced with an electrical baseboard heating system.
A big thank you as well to Eesti Maja volunteers Maret Kapp and Ester Kivi. Maret is often in the house helping straighten and organize various spaces. She recently came to help with setting up Christmas decor. Ester Kivi helped out with landscaping by cleaning up the front of the house. Drop by Eesti Maja this holiday season!
If you are looking for some Christmas gifts and are a last-minute shopper, Maarja Toomla and her team will be at the Estonian House to help. Maarja is the owner of eestishop.ca and will be selling Kalev chocolate and other Estonian items. Her team will be at the Estonian House on December 21, 2021 between 11:00am and 3:00pm in the front lobby entrance.
Wishing you and yours good health, a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year – soovides kõigile häid pühi ja head uut aastat!