||October 28, 2005
Cameron Finns Remember in Mattawa
Numerous Finnish families had
a major impact on Cameron Township near Mattawa beginning about 90 years ago.
There is little left of their presence except memories. A display on their
history there was unveiled at the Mattawa Museum recently with a large gathering
that became a sort of reunion among these Finns and their former Cameron
The Mattawa Museum operated by
the Mattawa and Area Historical Society spreads its interest beyond Mattawa. A
large display on farming in Cameron is well on the way to completion and is
located next to the new Finn display.
||Suoma Luoma, the first Finn born in Cameron Township 89
The Finn display came about as
a result of the work of several people at some distance physically from each
other. The spark for the initiative came from Toronto from Suoma Luoma, an 88
year old Finnish woman and former Cameron resident who read my article on
Cameron Township a while back and thought that the Finns had not received
appropriate coverage. She sent a translation of the story of the Cameron Finns
from a book Canadian Finnish History. The story was written by Miriam Sandberg,
a former Cameron Finn.
She also directed me to Tapio
“Tup” Saari and I went to see him and his wife Eunice to look at photographs and
plan an article (see Remembering the Cameron Finns, December 2004 on my
website). Tup and I talked about establishing a display at the Mattawa Museum
and contacted René Lamarche there. With the Museum’s support a display was
planned. Tup, a brother, and others helped put together a large panel board
display with text and photographic material and it was located on the upper
level of the museum.
It was a nice feeling to see
that Suoma, the last of 9 Hill children and the many former residents at the
museum as a result of her pride in their past and her persistence in having it
recorded and remembered. After more speeches the group heard Finnish music and
had refreshments and many memories were shared and friendships reestablished.
It was refreshing to see the various supporters of the project including the
Museum board and staff working, usually at some distance from each other, take
the opportunity to remember the Cameron Finns.
||The new display on the history of the Cameron Finns.
On Thanksgiving Saturday,
October 8, Suoma Luoma, some of her family and dozens of other Finns from as far
as Winnipeg converged for the unveiling. Everyone was surprised at the number
who came and the event turned into a reunion of old friends. The Museum kindly
provided refreshments and people stayed on well after the formal opening. As
M.C. for the event I pointed out that the Museum was designed by Cameron Finnish
Architect Jules Paivio, who came to the event from Sudbury. Jules pointed out
that the building was built by Eric Salkeld, another Finlander with Cameron
|Some of the guests at the unveiling.
Suoma spoke to the group and
mentioned that her mother and father Sanna & Herman Hill were the first Finns
to arrive in Cameron in 1915 along with their 5 children. Suoma was born in
April 1915 – the first Finish birth in Cameron. She later married a Finn and
had 3 children. The main attraction in Cameron was the free land available for
a small registration fee and later with a small fee to gain possession when
appropriate land had been cleared. At one point the map showed fifty 100 acre
lots owned by Finns. The other main reason for coming was the availability of
work in the lumber camps and at the Klock Sawmill on the nearby Ottawa River.
They also started many businesses and were very cooperative on various projects
including a couple of Finnish Halls which were the centre of their cultural
life. Cameron/Papineau Councilor Phil Bangs brought greetings from the Council
and gave a brief history of the Finnish contribution including their musical and
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