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60th Reunion

December 6th, 2008

Saturday, December 6th, 2008, saw the Walnut family gather for their 60th reunion.  The middle hall at the Toronto Estonian House was sufficient this time, since there was a remarkable decline in the number attending.  Many had reached their 80th and 90th years, and poor health combined with the snowy weather kept many from attending.  

Pastor Hannes Aasa, who's father came aboard the Walnut, asked of the participants:   "Have you seen a miracle?"  There was no answer.  He continued, "You all here are a miracle.  Arriving over a stormy sea from Sweden, is a miracle."

Below:  All passengers attending the reunion.

Walnut passenger reunion 2008

In attendance this year were approximately 60 individuals, many passengers bringing along their friends and family members.

The youngest and the oldest attending - From the left:
Peter Gustavson (66), Juta Cowan-Ristmägi (66), 
Nelly Lind (89) and Guri Raag (91).

More English was used at this reunion, since the younger generation and many guests were not fluent in Estonian. Event organizers were Nelly Hubel, Vivi Kivi and Tiiu Roiser.

The event began with guests being greeted by Tiiu Roiser who also gave some background concerning the voyage. Since many passengers were seasick, many have stated that they were not aware of all that occurred on the ship.

Walnut passengers 2008

When some passengers were interviewed about their recollections, many stated that they had no idea about the pumps breaking down, their course, etc.  Most people were confined to their small sleeping cubicles and only spoke and saw those immediately around them. Although the voyage story has been told many times, there are still tidbits of information that came as a surprise to some.

The guest speaker for the evening was Lynda Männik, daughter of a passenger.  Lynda had chosen to do her York University PhD thesis about the voyage of the Walnut.  She was familiar to everyone having just completed her interviews with the passengers as she collected information.   Lynda presented a slide show and spoke of the Walnut exhibit at the Pier 21 Museum. 

Enn Saumets was a young boy during the voyage.  His mother kept a daily journal of events on board. It was fascinating to hear Enn translate excerpts from his mother's text.

Nelly Lind presented a poem she had written outlining memories both good and bad of her voyage.

One idea brought up by the passengers in attendance was a desire to collect in one place all Walnut memorabilia.  Although Pier 21 has a large collection of material, it is not always quickly accessible.  "Young people use the internet, wouldn't it would be nice if my grandchildren could read all these stories," was the sentiment of one passenger.  A volunteer was asked to build a website where passengers could share their recollections and donate memorabilia and photographs.   This web page is a result of their request.

Tiiu Roiser-Chorowiec

Read Paul Rabisson's article in Estonian about the 60th reunion and Nelly Lind's poem. 

Some Walnut passengers were unable to attend the reunion and got together to share memories several days earlier.

From the left:  Nelly Hubel (Gustavson), Milvi Silm (Jeeger), Vivi Kivi (Laaneorg), Raja Himmist-Vincich, Asta Piil (nee Pink), and Hilja Kuutma. 

Walnut passenger reunion.

The following photographs were donated by Walnut passengers and/or their families.   All images on this page are used with permission and are Copyrighted by the image providers.  All rights reserved.    

Thank you to all the individuals who have graciously allowed us to post their images.   A list of contributors appears on the resources page.   If you are a passenger, please help with the captions.   Names will only be posted with the permission of the subject depicted or if the name has already appeared in a published article.  Passenger names are identified in bold.

Do you have any photographs of the 60th reunion?  
Please contact us to donate them to our site.