Sunday, 13 July 2014

Trip to Finland PART 2 - South-Western Finland: Evijärvi

Evijärvi is a small town located in the lake district of Southern Ostrobothnia region of Finland. Yes, lake district! Most Finns don't know that there is a lake district in Southern Ostrobothnia, that is supposedly all flat. Evijärvi has 2 600 inhabitants. Language is Savonian dialect of Finnish, which is quite special, since Savonia is in the East of Finland, Evijärvi is in the West. There is a particular reason for Eastern dialect in this region.

This bay of lake Evijärvi is located in the village of Ina It is the North Eastern corner of the lake. The plant in the water is Nymphaea fennica, or pikkulumme in Finnish.

For 500 years Finland was a province of Sweden. In the 15th century the central Finland was mostly uninhabited. Lapps (Sami) from the North, Savonians from the East and Tavastians from the South used this vast area for hunting and fishing until the king of Sweden Gustav I, better known as Gustav Vasa, decided that this area, where Evijärvi belongs to, must be inhabited and brought under the control of the crown (to raise more tax money of course).

Old granaries at the museum Väinöntalo.

Shadoof (vinttikaivo).

The king promised, especially for the Savonians, that they can move to this area and reclaim as much farmland as they want, for free. Savonians inhabited Evijärvi in 1540's. My ancestors were involved in this. They left from Savonranta, which is close to Eastern town of Savonlinna (in Swedish Nyslott, literally Newcastle) with their families and cattle, walked through Finland and settled in Särkikylä village at Evijärvi. This move by the King served a military strategic purpose as well. There was danger that the Russians invade the uninhabited areas of Finland and annex them to Russia. Later on the Russians tried to do exactly that, until Russia beat Sweden in the Finnish War in 1809 and Finland became Grand Duchy of Finland under the Russian Tsar. Nowadays the only Grand Duchy in the world is Luxembourg, my country as well. This is the background for the Savonian dialect spoken in Evijärvi.

The river Ähtävänjoki you have to cross when you want to go from Evijärvi main village to Särkikylä village few kilometers to the East. Yellow flowers close to water are Iris pseudocorus (kurjenmiekka). They are poisonous.

Särkikylä school, built in 1932.

Evijärvi's number one attraction is the lake. The word "järvi" means lake. It is not big or deep, but has lots of small islands (around 100) and lots of fish. In my opinion it could have much more recreational activities year round. But this region is far from growth hubs of Finland, and the young people want to move to cities. Tax revenues fall and services disappear bit by bit. On the other hand, there is still hard working and innovative people who find new ways to cope and make Evijärvi succeed.

I was born in this house. At that time it didn't look so paradisiac. I understand that it is now used for holiday rentals. A good example of innovative economic activity.

In a new place I usually go first to see the local Parish Church. It represent continuity, tradition and history. It is like a beacon that never shut down.

In the first half of 18th century Evijärvi was part of the Parish of Jakobstad. Jakobstad is located in the west coast in the distance of 60 km. It was very inconvenient to travel to Jakobstad for funerals, weddings, etc. In 1750's the farmers of Evijärvi decided to build an own Church, but the king Adolf Frederick of Sweden refused to give permission for the project. In 1758 the farmers started to build the Church without permission. This was very serious crime, comparable to treason, and could lead to death penalty. The Church was finished in 1759. Luckily the king was favourable to the farmers and gave his blessing in 1760.

The bell tower was built early and renovated completely in 1887.

In my earlier article we learned about Poor mans statues in Finnish Churches. This Poor mans statue stands next to Evijärvi parish church. The story tells that it was robbed or stolen several timse during its existence. Once thieves made it sunk into a swamp.

In earlier times the graveyards used to be close to the church. This is where many of my ancestors are resting, here are some of the iron crosses with their names and the dates of their birth and death.

There used to be much more grocery stores, banks and other services in Evijärvi center. The building on the left was a cooperative shop "Laaja" and the building on the right was a bank.

In this place there was a Nuorisoseurantalo, local Youth Association house, center of cultural activities. The building was destroyed in a big fire in 1960's.

This building used to be one of the grocery stores, Selman kauppa, now it lodges combined electronics shop, cloth shop and post office. Selma was known for her flexible opening hours. When other shops were closed, she was always ready to open her shop. She was cousin to my father.

This used to be cooperative dairy. Behind it, where the water tower stands, was a beautiful two story elementary school.

Main road of the village.

This is the most important grocery store at Evijärvi.

Restaurant "Tuu Het" is one of the services that seem to have good business, especially at lunch time. Tuu Het means something like "Come right now!"

The meatballs at Tuu Het are excellent. Highly recommended. Drink is the same we saw in the part one of this travel diary, kalja, soft, almost non alcoholic sweet beer.

The kiosk "Iitin kioski" represent continuity, never changing Evijärvi. This is where kids used to go after school to buy candy, and older men to buy weak beer with 2,8 % of alcohol. "Iiti" or Mrs. Edith Kaski run this kiosk for some 30 years (?).

European union social fund is financing the workshop "Kieppis". I have no idea what they do.

Blue sign lead you to the legendary camping site "Sillankorva".

The location of the camping site is perfect in beauty and gathers many travellers from Finland and also from abroad.

Sillankorva camping is run by this nice couple.

Perfect peace.

For visitors to use.

When leaving the camping site I noticed something interesting on car radio. On the frequency of 96,3 MHz I could hear Sveriges Radio Program 2. The only SR P2 on this frequency is in Göteborg Brudaremossen transmitter! The unusual reception of a local radio station from Sweden was due to rare weather condition in the Troposphere, where FM radio signals can be heard hundreds of kilometers away instead of the normal maximum of 100 km. The distance to Göteborg is remarkable, around 800 km.DSC_1456

Evijärvi is one of the best places for bird watching. The municipality built this tower in a good spot. These bird watchers came from afar.

The shallow lake and the surrounding swamps make an ideal nesting place for dozens of bird species.

This is one of them. The bird watchers told me that it is very rare species in Finland. The great egret (Ardea alba) or jalohaikara in Finnish.

Typical country road in sparsely populated areas.

One of the main attractions in Evijärvi is the Väinöntalo museum.


The main entrance of the prosperous farm house.

The main space of the house, the place where people cook, eat, work and meet.

Cooking "stove". This was occupied by ladies. Opposite side of the room, there is space for men, where they do what men do, wood working.

Alderman staff (oltermanninsauva). It is the sign of authority of the village head. It contains the "housemarks" of each house in the village. Don Esaias playing Alderman.

Early homemade wooden bicycles. See the tyres or the lack of them.

This is a sort of docking station for a pocket watch. When the head of the house come home he puts his watch in this docking station and voilà, it becomes a table watch! Awesomely modern.

Distilling equipment. In 1920's and 1930's home distilling of alcohol was forbidden by law in Finland. Don Esaias is checking if there is any drops left.

Five men of Evijärvi died in the Finnish Civil War of 1918. Here is a photo of four of them.

The same are mentioned on the memorial next to Church. On the other side of the Church there are tombs and memorial for 114 men who lost their lives during the two wars fought between Finland and Soviet Union from 1939 to 1945. I don't say II World War, since the official doctrine is that Finland was fighting separate wars with Soviet Union, not side by side with Germany. 114 men was a huge sacrifice for a small town of no more than 4000 people.

Old radio dial in the Väinöntalo museum. Exciting names of places! This is a German made radio from 1930's. Look at Stettin, Danzig and others. The model name is Hornyphon Lord 39. According to it was made in Wien, but the text on the radio say "Fabriqué en Allemagne, Made in Germany". It means that it was manufactured after the annexation of Austria to Germany.

Last but not least, the most artistic photo of all, taken in Särkikylä, Evijärvi.

The third part of my travel diary to Finland will tell more about typical plants and birds I think are representative of this region.


  1. Great pictures of my grandfather's hometown. I've never been there, so it was very nice to have this look around the area.

    1. Hi Craig! Good to hear that you enjoyed my photos of Evijärvi. This blog doesn't reach many people. From you surname I can see that we are probably, almost for sure, relatives. My grandfather married to a girl called Wisti, although it is written "Visti" on the grave stone. There are not that many people with that name in the area. This is my email: if you want to tell me about your ancestors and about your life. Best regards,
      Esa Peltola

  2. "Trip to Finland" Really awesome post with high quality images.

    Luxurious hotel-in-guwahati :: ROYALE de CASA

  3. Thank you Poonam. I am happy you liked!

  4. My name is Karen, and I just happened on your site while browsing information on Evijärvi. Thank you for the wonderful pictures and explanations. My great-grandmother was from Evijärvi (before she moved to the US at age 18), and we have since traced her lineage there back about 400 years (Karvonen was her maiden name with Hernesaho and many others in prior generations). While I hope to get to see Evijarvi in person some day, in the meantime you have given me some great pictures to help me see it in my mind.

  5. Dear Karen, thank you for visiting my blog and enjoying it! This is the best feedback a blogger can get. Somebody is reading my blog and like it! Indeed, Karvonen and Hernesaho are familiar names for people living in Evijärvi. I am sure my ancestors knew some of yours. Maybe even went to America together. i hope you can visit Evijärvi. Make sure the local newspaper Järviseudun Sanomat hear about you.