“Saulaine” holds a special place not just for congregation members but for the Toronto and international Latvian society as a whole. In 1952, St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Latvian Church and its visionary pastor Arnold Lusis, later Archbishop Lusis, saw the opportunity for the church to purchase rural property to provide recently arrived Latvians, emigrés from war-devastated Europe, a place to meet and relax in a beautiful country setting not unlike that of their lost homeland near Gauja River. Four generations of Latvian Canadian families have gathered in Saulaine to celebrate and embrace their language, culture and traditions originating more than 800 years ago in Latvia. Today, as our Latvian demographic changes, our Saulaine Community Events and our Children's Camp Saulaine continue to engage and grow Latvian cultural and spiritual learning and celebration.
Children's Camp Saulaine
In 1953, our Church established a children's camp that provided Latvian children with an opportunity to spend summers outside the city enjoying the fresh air, becoming acquainted with nature, sports, arts and traditional crafts in a loving, Latvian Christian environment. This tradition has continued for 64 years.
The camp continues to provide a caring environment which recognizes that many children and parents are no longer fluent in Latvian but still share an interest in their root culture and heritage. The Wednesday night candlelight service held for all campers and visitors are experienced in a beautiful place outdoors providing a peaceful setting for spirtual contemplation and connection to God’s creation through His Word.
Camp Saulaine is reknowned for our arts program lead by artist Aina Tilups. Activities can include learning how to spin and dye wool using natural dyes, knitting and crocheting that wool, drawing clouds using pastels, creating small and large sculptures out of natural materials, and building one's own mini, floating boat. Other activities include using homemade bows and arrows to challenge archery skills and fishing with self made hooks and rods. Yes, there is good fishing in the Nottawasaga River! Our camp discourges the use of cellphones and computers, offering a break from modern technology. Our goal is to connect with each other and the environment, away from the urban world.