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FOCUS: It’s Time to Let Loose and Celebrate (Sept. 2022)

September 27th, 2022 · No Comments

Tartu College 50+2 is Here! 

By Kati Kiilaspea

Tartu College (TC) has become a favourite meeting spot for the Toronto Estonian community and other cultural groups in the neighbourhood; it’s a true cultural hub teeming with energy. Preparations began in 2019 to celebrate its 50th anniversary in a fitting and worthy way in September 2020. Then the pandemic caught us all off guard and brought it all to a halt. Celebrations had to move to a digital platform where we could still get together, reminisce about the old days, and dream of the future, albeit from a distance. A group of Tartu College workers got together and even held a small party in the parking lot just so they could celebrate the milestone together. But the consensus and feeling among everyone was that this wonderful landmark that grew out of architect Elmar Tampõld’s vision deserved more: a spectacular celebration. Finally, two years after the initial anniversary, we’ve got a massive party in store for you all: a 5-day celebration with something for everyone; the event of the year! 

But what exactly is Tartu College? Tartu College, located in the heart of the Annex, is a lively cultural hub for Estonians where events are organized by various community groups. This building has been home, not only to international university students, but also to a number of Estonian academic organizations. Tartu College facilitates rich educational and cultural programming all year round. The programs are delivered by the Estonian Museum Canada/VEMU and focus on four pillars: history, culture, language, arts, and science. All Estonian Museum Canada/VEMU programs offered in English are available to Tartu College student residents. Tartu College’s key mandate is to promote, preserve and increase the knowledge of the Estonian experience in Canada. Tartu College, along with the Chair of Estonian Studies Foundation, support Estonian language courses at the University of Toronto’s Department of Slavic Languages and Literature. We are home to the Academy for Lifelong Learning, Toronto program, that facilitates peer-led study and dialogue. Together with the Academy of Lifelong Learning, Toronto student bursaries are offered to Tartu College student residents. Currently, TC offers activities and events that speak to various age groups and people with a range of interests and backgrounds.

The multiday bash kicks off with a proper bang, with Estonia’s premiere funk band Lexsoul Dancemachine taking over downtown Toronto atop a specially set-up bus on Wednesday, Sept. 21. Raw street funk on one side, with sweet soul on the other, Lexsoul Dancemachine is a 6-man groove band known for tearing venues apart with their stage presence. 

The group will perform a series of pop-up concerts around the downtown core, starting out from Tartu College at 7 p.m. and making their way toward Kensington Market and then Queen Street West. When the event organizer, Estonian Music Week’s executive and artistic director Sebastian Buccioni, was asked about the exact locations of the pop-ups, he grinned slyly and told us to keep an eye out for upcoming ads. But we can tell you this much: each of the three performances will be 30 minutes long and there will be space on the bus for 10 lucky winners that will be determined by a draw. More info on that coming soon! 

To get your true funk injection, join us on Friday, Sept. 23 at the Axis Club (722 College Street) in Toronto, starting at 8 p.m. 

Toronto funk legends the Shuffle Demons, known for their hit Spadina Bus, will take the stage along with Lexsoul Dancemachine for a night of absolute groovy chaos. Famed Estonian singer-songwriter Vaiko Eplik will be acting as DJ and host for the night, introducing nostalgic tunes from the Estonian diaspora and keeping the vibe flowing. Tickets are $25/$20 and selling fast. Get yours now at:

This scintillating slew of events will finish off with the premiere of the TC50 documentary film directed by Kaisa Pitsi about the landmark building and its history on Sunday, Sept. 25, at 3 p.m. English subtitles are included and coffee and kringel will follow. The event is free, but donations are warmly welcomed. 

This spectacular celebration would not have been possible without our sponsors and partners: Estonian Foundation of Canada, Northern Birch Credit Union, the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research (International Estonian Action Plan 2022-2025), Cotton Factory, and Koger Valuations. 

Bring your friends from the ‘hood and come join the festivities. All are warmly awaited and welcomed! If you’ve worked at Tartu College in the past, come here for events throughout the years, or taken part in any of the various groups that meet here regularly, come and join the party and help us celebrate the important contributions of this landmark to the longevity of our Estonian culture here in Toronto! 


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