Notes from Toronto Eesti Maja board, wrapping up 958 Broadview

Updated: Nov 5

Update #158


Estonian House in Toronto Limited board shares an update about the herculean task of closing out 958 Broadview Avenue


Flags in front of building
Flags lowered for the final time at 958 Broadview

After reverberations from the LÄÄST BLÄÄST celebration died down, the Toronto Estonian House at 958 Broadview Avenue started to bustle with a different kind of activity: the emptying out over 60 years of accumulated treasures and ... 'stuff'.


Community, cultural and practical items


Items of cultural and community importance divided into two, with some going into storage and others sold or given away at a community sale. Items of purely a practical bent were sold to the broader community by way of three online auctions.


Work for the EKN archive transfer to Estonian Museum Canada continued with sorting through duplicates of books and archive materials.


Donations were made to the children's camps of Kotkajärve, Seedrioru and Jõekääru. Additional donations await handing over to Ehatare and Estonian Museum Canada. Raivo Remmel and Tõnu Orav helped sort through office materials and continue to sort archives.


Hall with sale items on ables
Sale and giveaway of items of cultural or community about to open, October 11th and 12th

What of the Estonia piano?


The Estonia grand piano together with the dedication plaque, and the Yamaha grand piano are both now safely in storage. Piano movers removed the two grands and also removed for disposal the two upright pianos that did not find a buyer or willing recipient.



How about all of the art?


The art on the Estonian House walls was but a fraction of what had been stored in the building. All of the artwork had been accessioned in the prior summer and was now assessed. With these works having moved among cubbies and crawl spaces for decades, their frames were outdated and battered, with incompatible materials.


Through a mammoth effort that lasted weeks, volunteers removed many of the works from their frames so they could be safely and more economically stored. The frames were sold in an online auction and the next steps for the collection will be addressed next year. For now these items are in storage. Thanks goes to Rein Kuris, Mark Spokowski, Ellen Valter, Elin Marley, Siiri Valter, Pia Poolsaar, Eerik Valter, Raivo Remmel and Viive Tork-Hiis for their endurance on this project.



What about the other cool stuff?


Likely since 1968 when it was first mounted to the foyer, no one had seen the back of Vello Hubel's tribute to seamen, yet there it was: VH 68. Items like this were safely removed by Roul Martjak, and all packaged and placed into storage: street address numbers, flags, and other memorabilia. Thanks again goes to Rein Kuris, Ellen Valter, Veiko Parming, Mark Spokowski, Talvi Parming, Raivo Remmel, David Kalm, Laas Hess, Azhwan Mando for the horsepower.


Bust on shelf
Konsul Markus keeps a watchful eye on storage unit

And what was left over?


Items from tenants and user groups that did not find a home were first placed on the street for passers-by to help themselves. Late on the night of October 30th 2022, a waste disposal service took away the remainder that got knocked down. Thanks are owed to Martin, Katrin & Oskar Sõmermaa, Jaan Jõgeda, Mark Spokowski, Ingrid Laar, Ülle Veltmann, Veiko Parming, Rein Kuris, and Ellen Valter for not giving up in the face of the unforgiving volume!



"I am grateful to a small group of dedicated volunteers who helped Ingrid Laar, Mark Spokowski and Ellen Valter tackle the final phases of the cleanout with such efficiency," noted EH President Veiko Parming. "What emerged for me from this exercise is that we have a tremendous opportunity to carry forward important parts of our history, but at the same time, also reset and refresh."


KESKUS project lead Ellen Valter commented that "materials, equipment, documents and hundreds of boxes and dusty bags of unwanted and forgotten items, from broken string lights and a birdbath warmer through to a full set of someone's winter tires, emerged from the nooks and crannies. Turns out that the building had become somewhat of a dumping ground."


EH board member Rein Kuris added, "the unwanted, broken and forgotten items clogged the building's energy. It is a great relief to have segregated out the community's treasured items and safely stored them and we will move into our new home at KESKUS much lighter and cleaner."


Woman holding a box
EH General Manager Ingrid Laar holds a time capsule that came to light from behind the 1963 addition's cornerstone, the contents of which will be explored at a later date.

Estonian House Vice-President Raivo Remmel noted "The LÄÄST BLÄÄST was the celebration of the Estonian House we will remember, but lowering the EH flags for the last time on October 29th was a special moment too."

The seedheads of the echinecea in front of the Estonian House were full of seeds. KESKUS landscape architect Alissa (Puhm) North remarked that these are both native and resilient, and are terrific pollinators.


Those gathered to lower the flags for the last time took some seeds with them for their home gardens and the remainder will be germinated for planting on the rooftop terrace of KESKUS International Estonian Centre. We'll take a little bit of Eesti Maja with us to KESKUS in many ways, this is just one.


Thank you, Toronto Eesti Maja, it's a wrap!


KESKUS valued donors make a critical difference


Please join our growing list of capital campaign donors to take KESKUS construction through to opening, everyone's help is needed. The KESKUS International Estonian Centre’s donor categories are Kalevipoja laud for gifts over $100,000 (including naming rights for specific areas), Koidula gild, which is from $50,000-99,999, Viru vanemad for gifts of $10,000-$49,999, and Kungla rahvas for gifts up to $10,000.


To make a donation, please call +1.647.250.7136 or email donations@estoniancentre.ca. Donations may be made as a family gift, or in honour of an individual or family. All Canadian, Estonian and U.S. donations will be issued a tax receipt.KESKUS leadership donors are recognized here.

To follow the construction journey and for KESKUS updates: