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The spirit and determination of Hilda and Nicholas Küttis lives on to support the Estonian community

Updated: May 18, 2021

Update #98

The newest members of the KESKUS International Estonian Centre Capital Campaign’s $100,000 Kalevipoja Laud are no strangers to the dedication and inspiration it takes to build a successful future.

The Küttis family is proud to make this donation to honour the legacy of Hilda and Nicholas Küttis, their parents, grandparents and great grandparents. Estonia was their homeland and Canada their adopted country.

Hilda and Nicholas Küttis




Nicholas, a graduate in Forestry at Tartu University, was employed in the forestry industry in Estonia and was in charge of promoting exports to international markets. He was also a star athlete in track and field, representing Estonia and winning a gold medal in Turin, Italy in 1933. He won the medal at games that were part of what would become the International University Sports Federation, an international athletic competition for university students. The athletic events mirror those of the summer Olympics.

His company sent him to London in 1934 to investigate emerging markets in forest products in the UK and to learn English.

He had a fateful encounter at the Estonian Embassy with Hilda Truumees, who was working as an au pair in London and studying English. A few years later they met again in Tallinn, fell in love and married.

The war interfered just as they were building their life together, and they had to escape their homeland with two small children, Tiina and Juta. They escaped first to Finland, then to Sweden, where they lived for several years before emigrating to Canada in 1948. They settled in Toronto, joining a young Estonian expat community. Their fluency in English and other languages served them well, as did their strong work ethic and commitment to integrate the family into their adopted country.

Canada after the war was a land of opportunity and Nicholas, along with two partners, purchased a small firm called Home Lumber Company. The company expanded rapidly to emerge as Alpa Industries Inc., which he ran successfully with his partners for many years.

At home, Hilda was in charge of the family now grown to four children, with Paul born in Sweden and Linda in Canada. The couple always spoke of their lives and marriage as an equal partnership, supporting and enriching each other and their children in culture, athletics, the arts and education.

Hilda was an avid reader and their beautiful modernist home was filled with books and the walls covered with paintings reflecting her refined aesthetic. They both loved opera and their home was always filled with music.

Hilda and Nicholas instilled in their family the value of education and the importance of the hard work necessary for a successful and happy future life. They were always proud of their family’s varied achievements.

They both enjoyed many hobbies. Nicholas was an enthusiastic tennis and chess player and together they were a formidable competitive bridge team.

Summers were spent at their cottage on Lake Simcoe where saunas were a regular family ritual. In the winter months they retreated to Florida to join a lively community of Estonian snowbirds.

They were proud Estonians. They also embraced fully their new country that gave them sanctuary.

In later life they were happiest surrounded by their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

The Küttis family is delighted to support the new KESKUS International Estonian Centre, a project that would have been close to Hilda and Nicholas’s hearts.

Get involved and help support our future

Please join our growing list of capital campaign donors! KESKUS International Estonian Centre’s donor categories are Kalevipoja Laud for gifts of $100,000 and above (including naming rights for specific areas), Viru Vanemad for gifts of $10,000 and above, and Kungla Rahvas for gifts under $10,000. The launch of the Kungla Rahvas campaign is slated for June 2021.

To make a donation, please contact Donations may be made as a family gift, or in honour of an individual or family. All Canadian and U.S. donations will be issued a tax receipt.

Let’s keep in touch!

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