St. Peter's

Evangelical Lutheran Church

65 Walnut St. (Corner of Wolseley Ave.), Winnipeg, MB. R3G 1N9


Phone: 204-775-6477                                                  Email: Send us an email


On March 13, 2018, an email was sent to some Manitobans of Latvian Ancestry, from Ves Zarins, of Oakville, ON. It included the following:

"this is Latvia’s 100th anniversary year since independence was proclaimed on November 18, 1918. To commemorate the anniversary, the Embassy of Latvia in Ottawa and the Latvian National Federation in Canada have initiated a project to plant commemorative trees in centres with a Latvian presence across Canada"  and "we would need volunteers on the ground to make this happen. How about it?"

Ves and I have been working together on a couple of Latvian projects over the last 4 years, including his research of Latvian Immigrants and Refugees who came to Manitoba, and my research on my Latvian ancestors. Ves wanted this to happen, and would be there for support and advice.

I volunteered for the tree project, provided some other Manitobans would get involved. Ves put me in contact with 7 others, and within 2 weeks, ideas were flowing.

The Latvian Centennial Tree Project Story


The first major hurdle was cleared, when Ves suggested we ask St. Peter's Lutheran Church to partner with us. From his research, he had learned of the historical connection between this church and the Manitoba Latvian Community. Andy Alksnis and I met with the Church Council on April 16th, and asked it to consider allowing us to plant a tree and place a marker, on church property, to honour the Latvian Centennial. Council members asked for clarification, and offered suggestions, like having the message on the marker in both English and Latvian. They asked for time to consider our request, and would get back to us with their decision. It was with a great deal of relief, that I received this text, on May 28th, from Pastor Meinardt:

" My apologies for the delay. I was waiting for the minutes so that I could be specific. There is support for the tree. We ask though to split the costs for the tree- even halves. We would also need to approve the wording of the plaque. I hope this helps."


Within days, Ves emailed his Latvian contacts with the good news, and he asked for help in creating a strategy, to pay for our share of the tree, and the full cost of the marker.



The second major hurdle was more problematic. The first email request for donations was sent out on July 11th , and resulted in enough funds to pay for the tree, but not the desired marker. Ves sent out a second request for donations, on July 25th. More funds were raised, however it was necessary to create a Plan B for the marker.


Matt From, of Everlasting Memorials, in West St. Paul, was contacted, and was asked if his company could create a suitable marker, for the amount we could afford. Matt and I met on August 8th, and he made an offer we couldn't refuse! A deposit was sent to Matt on August 9th.


It was agreed that the Church Council would take care of selecting a tree, purchasing it, and planting it. The Latvian Community was invited to participate, as it saw fit. At the end of July, Barb Schott, Church Council member, met with Ken Sommerfield and me, from the Latvian Community, at the church, to discuss the type of tree and its location. On August 2nd  , Barb discussed with fellow Council members, Martin Bunge and Ralf Oppitz, the purchase and planting of the tree. On August 14th, the tree, a 10 foot Linden, was purchased from Shelmerdine Garden Centre, near Headingley. The tree was picked up on August 15th, and delivered to  the church. Barb, Martin, and I planted the tree. Photos were taken, and shared with church members and Latvian Community members, including the Latvian Ambassador to Canada.


The marker was picked up on September 6th, and delivered to the church. Jeff Berke, member of the Latvian Community, and I installed the marker. Photos were taken, and shared with church members, the Latvian Community, and the Latvian Ambassador.


SUNDAY, NOV. 18Th, 2018

The Church Council, Pastor Meinhardt, and the Latvian Community continue to collaborate, and together, are planning a very special day. There will be a German service, and an English service that will include the Latvian Community. Between the services, a Blessing of the Tree and Marker will be done, outside. After the English service, a Fellowship is planned, with coffee, tea, and snacks, including the Latvian food, PIRAGS ( a small bun filled with onions and bacon).


Respectfully submitted,

Ken Valainis




Why a tree?


The official celebrations started on May 4, 2017 with the Embrace Latvia initiative when people around the country planted one hundred oaks along Latvia’s outer border, symbolically laying the foundation of strength for the next 100 years.


Not only are we encouraged to plant new trees, we are encouraged to do this:


On the brink of Latvia’s Centenary, everyone is invited to take part in the LV100 Great Trees project (LV100 Dižošanās), organized by the Centenary Bureau and the Nature Conservation Agency. It means going out into the nature, equipped with a measuring tape, to look for the yet undiscovered Great trees.



Why was a  Linden tree selected?


The Church Council is very fond of the Linden. The Linden is a common tree in Latvia.  The Linden grows very well in Winnipeg's soil and climate.


Where did the Latvian Immigrants and Refugees settle, in Manitoba?


Three Latvian Communities have been identified. One was in the city of Winnipeg. Another was located north of Dauphin, MB. It included Sifton, Oak Brae, and Fork River. Another was located around Lac du Bonnet, including Lee River and Bird River.

Until World War 1, Manitoba had the largest number of Latvians outside of Latvia.


Event Photos

© St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Winnipeg