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FOCUS: Construction begins on Estonian Centre (May 2022)

May 17th, 2022 · No Comments

Ceremony launches ambitious building schedule

Not at all dissuaded by the rain, approximately 100 gathered for the groundbreaking. BRIAN BURCHELL/GLEANER NEWS

By Joshua Snow

KESKUS International Estonian Centre, located at 9 and 11 Madison Ave., held their official construction launch on April 8. The expected opening date is October 2023. 

KESKUS replaces Toronto Estonian House, and it will be a vibrant community hub dedicated to celebrating Estonian heritage and innovation. 

A gathering place for Estonians and the public, the venue will include classrooms, a grand hall, and a café. 

It will also house the Estonian Credit Union, the Estonian Choir, and Estonian schools.  

Construction began in early March, and the groundbreaking marked a milestone for the Estonian community. 

“This is finally the historical moment with this monumental project,” said Ellen Valter, a project leader at KESKUS. 

At the ceremony, many people flew Estonian and Canadian flags, and former Governor General, Adrienne Clarkson, spoke about the valuable contributions immigrants make to Canada: 

View, looking East from Madison Avenue, of the soon to be constructed Estonian Cultural Centre. The proposal has widespread support from the residents’ association and the city alike. COURTESY ALAR KONGATS

“This is the beauty of Canada … We bring our culture and contribute to the fabric of Canada. Don’t ever forget where you come from. We must be united in our stand for freedom, and support countries around the world in their pursuit of independence,” said Clarkson.

The five-day opening ceremonies will celebrate the facility and Estonian culture. 

“Estonia is seen as a tiny nation capable of running big ideas. KESKUS brings the vision of a stunning contemporary Estonian cultural centre to life,” said Valter.

“For five days we will make Toronto rock in all harmonies Estonian,” Valter continued. 

Estonia’s ambassador to Canada, Toomas Lukk, attended the construction launch and received the first invitation to the opening ceremonies. 

“This landmark international centre, to go from dream to reality is a great source of pride for Estonia and for Estonians everywhere,” said Lukk.

KESKUS provided updates about the project through a virtual community engagement webinar on March 24. 

“We expect to be done by October 2023, but on time and under budget is seldom the case,” Valter said. 

The total project budget is approximately $41 million.  

“Leadership donors doubled and tripled their donations to ensure the construction of KESKUS could responsibly begin,” said Liisa Käärid, board chair of the Estonian Arts Centre. 

Built by the Estonian community, KESKUS International Estonian Centre is the first of its kind in over half a century.


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