S.S. Walnut

A Voyage to Freedom - 1948

Melanie Idnurm


Passenger Stories

Melanie Idnurm

Saumets Diary


Into God's Hands

 A stormy sea -
the water 
looms endless -
cold and frigid;

We leave behind 
those we have loved
things we have known;

All my possessions
in one small suitcase -
are easy to pack;

What fate awaits us?

Together we came
with dread -
yet filled  with hope;

Into God's hands -
we placed our dreams
and our lives;

Deliver us all
from evil
Your kingdom come;

We thank You -
for this second chance
our lives anew.

Tiiu Roiser 
Dec. 2008





Visitors to the Walnut Web page often write to ask "What happened to the passengers?"  "What kind of lives did they have?"  "Were they happy in their new homeland?"  I am proud to say that everyone became productive citizens of Canada, working hard to build homes for themselves and families. 

Matti Idnurm has kindly shared what happened to his family after they arrived in Halifax.  In particular, he has shared some photographs of his mother's paintings.  They are very special to him and have never been publicly displayed before.  So strong were Melanie's remembrances of her beloved homeland, that she painted scenes from her childhood by memory.  We thank Mr. Idnurm for sharing his mother's painted recollections with us.  In his own words, he describes his mother and her paintings:

Recollections Through my Mother's Eyes - Paintings by Melanie Idnurm

Rein and Melanie Idnurm arrived in Canada aboard the Walnut. After a short stay  in Halifax and Ajax , the rented a flat in Toronto , Ontario.  After about 18 months  they purchased a house off the Danforth in Toronto.  To help with expenses, Melanie obtained a job with Wintraub and Sons - a company that manufactured an assortment of  other hand painted  items. Melanie worked in the painting department applying hand painted designs, flowers, etc on various items.

With her children growing up, Melanie found time on her hands and began to  experiment with  her love of creating something of  beauty. At her job, she had developed a sense of creativity as well as a feeling for colour and balance. At first she experimented with water colours, doing flower scenes. She quickly moved to flower pastels but now included flowers she recalled from her childhood memories in Estonia.  Pastels did not seem to fit Melanie’s creative needs and, as expensive as they were, she now purchased oil paints. From that point on she worked only in oils using an assortment of techniques.

Melanie’s topics for her art, were always close to her heart. She did a number of paintings of Tallinn , the tower, and the churches and scenes she recalled from her childhood. She would sometimes point to a painting and recall how she would walk past this scene on her way to school.  When painting the rural scenery around Udora, Ontario , she would recall her farming roots in Estonia and include scenes from her childhood farm and farming activities.

Altogether, Melanie painted about 100 or so paintings over a span of about ten years. She never sold or even attempted to sell any of her work. From time to time she would give a painting to a family member or close friend but always asked that it be returned if no longer appreciated. Each of her works had a special meaning to her and she always knew where each piece was. As a consequence, even today, her works are closely held within the family unit and by a few close friends or their families.

Melanie painted through the late 1950s and through the 1960s and then, for some unknown reason, she stopped. Her work was never put on display or evaluated for merit. She did not want recognition or publicity, but rather only wanted the personal pleasure she got from recalling her memories and creating each piece. 

Matt Idnurm - November 2011   


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Tallinn's City Towers

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Medieval Tallinn
(Vana Tallinn)

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A Homeland Farm.

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Tallinn's Town Hall Square
(Raekoja plats)

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Estonian Farm

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Linda Monument in Tallinn

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Estonian Farm

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Estonian Farm

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A Typical Estonian Bouquet

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We thank Matt Idnurm for allowing us to glimpse through her paintings, into his mother's fondest of memories -- especially of those of her homeland.


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This page was last updated 27/12/2018 08:05 PM

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