Welcome to the Home Page of the




The ELECTRONIC ESTONIA IN CANADA / EL-ESTO project was originally established as a joint undertaking between the Estonian Arts Centre -- a registered cultural organization of Toronto, Canada and Estonian Institute (of Tallinn, Estonia); as well, it was intended to work in close liaison with the Consul General of the Republic of Estonia in Canada, and with the Tourism Board of Estonia. The project, as originally visualized, had a three-prong purpose:

Furthermore, it was expected that the three-prong facility would serve as base for an eventual affiliate of Estonian Institute in Canada. 



As a background of the project, the following might be of interest to the reader. Basically, EL-ESTO is the brainchild of John and Stella Pahapill (of Estonian Arts Centre (see Links, below). The idea was born in 1995 during visits to Estonia, their beloved country of birth. After some in-depth (and time-taking!) discussions regarding the idea with various government officials and others in Estonia and Canada, a Working Agreement was signed in July 1997 between Estonian Arts Centre and Estonian Institute. The agreement sets out a framework for joint projects in furthering common goals of the two cultural organizations; as well, it outlines a basis for the two organizations to represent each other in their respective countries. Later in the same year a similar agreement was signed with "Eesti Kontsert" – the state-operated concert management organization in Estonia; as well, in September 2001 a verbal agreement was reached with the Director of Estonian Tourism Board, for the EL-ESTO Centre to represent the Board in Canada. In early planning phases of the project, Estonian Arts Centre held consultation meetings with the Estonian ministries of Culture, Economic Affairs and External Affairs, to obtain their support of and future participation in the project. To date, most of the help from Estonia has been in the form of moral support, with one exception – a monetary contribution was received from Estonian Institute in 1999, for digitization of some of the Estonian Arts Centre artwork. 

Project Status:                                                                 

Due to lack of funding at the time, physical start of the EL-ESTO project was delayed for some years (except for a trial digitization of a few pieces artwork, as is noted above). During the November 21, 2000 meeting of the Board of Directors of Estonian Arts Centre, it was decided to sell its "Esto Valley" property – a piece of (approximately 100 acres (45 hectares) prime recreational land in Hockley Valley, near Toronto, which had been purchased in the early 1980-s with the intention of establishing an Estonian Heritage Arts Museum there at some future date. As the political situation in Estonia began changing significantly shortly thereafter, and the country soon regained its independence (in August, 1991), it was decided not to proceed with the heritage museum project, and suitable alternative use of the land had been under consideration for some time. In parallel with the decision to sell the land, it was decided to fund the EL-ESTO project from proceeds of the sale of the Esto Valley property.

The Esto Valley land was sold -- its sale closed in February 2001. Proceeds from the sale became available in mid-2001, and planning for implementation of the EL-ESTO project began shortly thereafter. It was felt that the funds available from the Esto Valley sale are sufficient to develop -- and operate for some years – the electronic- or virtual museum. Additional funding for long-term operation would be sought after the new “e-museum” is in operation. It is expected that the Estonian-Canadian community at large and various departments or agencies of the government of Estonia will play a significant role in supporting its operations in future.

At the May 28, 2001 Annual Meeting of Estonian Arts Centre, membership reconfirmed the Board’s plan to proceed with the electronic museum project; and set August 31, 2002 – the end of its next fiscal year – as tentative date for completing the project.  However, soon new and serious obstacles were encountered. For example, the choice floor space at the Estonian House, where the e-museum base was to be established (which had been promised by the management of the Estonian House to be available for the project) suddenly became unavailable. An alternative, less desirable floor space had to be constructed at the Estonian House by Estonian Arts Centre, and its project team encountered other unexpected situations, which all had to be dealt with. These problems aside, an in-house Video-studio was set up - with some of its early productions listed on website http://estarts.ca/Videolist.htm - and a large selection - some 200 pieces of artwork - were digitized in the late 2002 / early 2003. In the autumn of 2004, technical aspects of the e-museum website were developed and the basic framework of the Estonian Arts Centre virtual- or electronic museum was placed on the Internet, where it can be found at http://www.estarts.ca

Changes in the project’s scope / Ongoing activities on its published Website:

As is noted above, the EL-ESTO project actual start was delayed for quite some time; and in the process – due to various reasons, too numerous to list here – the scope of the project changed from the originally visualized multi-purpose Estonian Cultural Info-Centre to the present Virtual- or Electronic museum. Its purpose is to:

·        Exhibit, online, selected works of the Estonian Arts Centre art collection and of artwork by Estonian artists owned by others, who are interested in exhibiting selected pieces of their collections on the arts centre’s site;

·        Provide an on-line “home” for the Estonian Arts Centre history - to open the section, just “click” on: ajalugu (in Estonian); as well, to provide a “calender” of upcoming events: events / sündmused; for notes and comments on selected past events: past events / toimunud üritused

 As is noted, the Estonian Arts Centre e-museum Website was placed on the Internet in the autumn of 2004. Recently (winter 2005/2006), the site received background information – in English and in Estonian - on the various artists and re: their works included in the e-museum. The coming and past activities of Estonian Arts Centre are updated on an ongoing basis on the site. Additional works of art will be exhibited from both the Estonian Arts Centre’s own art collection and from private collections of interested families / individuals, as such works become available. 


Estonian Arts Centre can be reached by electronic mail via: info@estarts.ca




Prepared by: John Pahapill, Project Director


Last updated:  August 28, 2006