Arnold Voltre

Arnold Voltre

(14 June 1908 – 28 November 1977)



Arnold Voltre was a significant contributor to the promotion and protection of the Estonian culture in Canada through his efforts at Seedrioru.







In 1965 at Seedrioru’s annual general meeting and 10th anniversary, Voltre was voted the first honorary member of Seedrioru. “Arnold is someone who is a head taller than all the rest of us!” With that short statement, the chair of the meeting gave a rationale for his proposal. The meeting reacted with boisterous applause. Arnod Voltre’s 10 years of working for Seedrioru was known to all and required no further explanation. there are few men who gave given of themselves so selflessly for voluntary community service.

After the 22 of May, 1955, when Voltre was the first to step on what is now Seedrioru. this became his real home and prime undertaking. He became the chair of the interim summercamp board and in the following years he was a member of the board for 21 consecutive years and rotating chair of the board five times. But a title alone does not give the measure of a man.

Simultaneously with the titles, he was from the very beginning until the year of his death:

  • planner and organizer of all the projects, procurer of all materials for them, keeper of the work records, calculator of the debentures;
  • organizer of the summer camp and all the concerns that came with that, such as finding the staff, registering the campers, communicating with the parents and handling their concerns. He was the only person during the camp period who was always present and ready to help;
  • the organizer of all the Song Festivals, the one who invited all the choirs and arranged housing for them;
  • starting in 1958 until 1976 he was the treasurer of the corporation, who bore on his shoulders all the financial worries, especially during the first years;
  • there is little work, if any at all, that has been done at Seedrioru that he did not have a part in, all that was built with cement at Seedrioru was his handiwork;
  • besides all this, he followed with interest the activities of the Estonian central organizations in Toronto, where he represented Seedrioru including at the Toronto Estonian Credit Union;
  • collected and organized material for Seedrioru’s archives without which the publication of the book “SEEDRIORU 1955-1980” would have been problematic.

Voltre’s chief attribute, however, was his power to inspire others with his personal example. You could not say no to him when he needed help. His own vocabulary likewise did not include the word “no”. The closest he got was a “Well….yes…” from which you were to understand that there was something that he was not agreeing with. “Well, of course, of course!” meant he approved. His reward? One summer, a young camper asked his mother who was chatting just then with Voltre: “Mommy, is this the Seedrivana (Seedrioru Spirit”)? That was Voltre’s greatest reward. He was ecstatic with joy after the successful first Song Festival, where in his opening address he recalled the two decisive previous steps of the Estonian people seeking freedom, and concluded with the assertion: “Now we have our own space and our own rule, now we shall sing ourselves free again!” He believed that history could repeat itself. But maybe only history’s errors repeat themselves.

He has been seen with teary eyes in reverence at the summercamp’s lowering of the flag in the evening. He could witness the morning flag raising only on Sundays. He has also been seen with tears of anguish during his final year, when things at Seedrioru were not happening as he would have wished. In recognition of his contribution at Seedrioru, he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth 25th Jubilee medal, which he received three days before his death.


There is a plaque in the main hall at Seedrioru with the words “ARNOLD VOLTRE 1908–1977. IN REMEMBRANCE OF AN ESTONIAN MAN WHOSE CONTRIBUTION TO SEEDRIORU IS UNFORGETTABLE”. It is attached to an oaken base whose preparations he had taken part in himself in 1966 when preparing the plaque for Arnold Pau. Voltre gave 22 years of his life working for Seedrioru.




 Seedrioru 1955–1980,Seedrioru Archives Editorial board: Karl Aun, Harry Pärkma, Vello Hubel, Jüri Juurand, Voldemar Tammemägi. Translation by Rutt Veskimets