Finlands Klondike

 

 

 

 

Browse the photo gallery here

 


The Rovaniemi Market was the renowned cultural meeting place for Peräpohjola and the Sami. People arrived from far and wide to engage in buying and selling. Descriptions of the market are vibrant and positive, with the lumberjack of the North enjoying a central role in them. As late as the 1930s, the market proceedings were compared with Canada’s Klondike during the times of the gold rush, since money and goods flowed there and abundant crowds attended.

The official market in Rovaniemi was established in 1881. From the very start, it was a stupendous event and an exotic tourist destination. Business and official matters were dealt with, but it was just as important to meet old friends and make new ones. The Midsummer Market was indeed known as the “wedding engagement market”. And one had to party otherwise – ”painting the town red” during the market was a must!

The market was arranged in the autumn on St Michael’s Day as well as during Easter and Midsummer. Just as important as the commerce were the dances, music, motion pictures, circus, theatre and clubs. Card-playing and visits to the photo tent were, of course, also a part of the market.

1951The Finnish comedy film, Rovaniemen markkinoilla [At the Rovaniemi Market] (1951), fostered the image of a wild and free city of the North. Toil, worries and heavy wartime experiences were forgotten in the lively songs of the postwar revue. The market had real drawing power. It was comparable to a big festive event.

The Rovaniemi Market was Finland’s last significant market happening. Ounasvaara and the Ounasvaara Ski Club represent success stories in the tourism of Lapland and Rovaniemi. Competitive sporting events continue on Ounasvaara Hill, and it is also an outdoor recreation area popular amongst the townspeople themselves as well as a site for picking mushrooms and berries, not to mention a favourite tourist destination.



Nätti-Jussi related that he had once experienced a little better luck than usual at a large logging site in the upper regions: ”I won such a big heap of money that no fewer than ten motor lorries were needed to take all the cash to the bank in Rovaniemi!

“At the bank, though, they got mixed up in counting the money. So they wrote “Nätti-Jussi got most of the money” in my deposit book.”

Whenever Nätti-Jussi dropped by now and then to pick up a big load of money, the following note was entered into his deposit book: “Nätti-Jussi took a little.”

(Pentti Harjumaa: Nätti-Jussin tarinoita I [Nätti-Jussi’s tales I], p. 44)


A bunch of lumberjacks who had drunk their way to destitution at the Rovaniemi Market met Nätti-Jussi and told him about their desperate straits. There was no stuff left to sell anymore, because all their timepieces as well as some of their clothes had already been traded for hard liquor. Nätti-Jussi gave the matter some thought and said: ”Now you boys have got to sell some common sense and nothing more!”

Then, aided by one of the lumberjacks, Nätti-Jussi arranged to get a big empty wooden crate. He put it onto its side and made a hole in it. He wrote on the box: COME SEE A MIRACLE! 20 FINNISH MARKS PER ROUND!

Soon curiosity led to a queue at the hole and the money flowed. Nothing more could be seen from the hole than a small piece of Finnish land and some market booths, but those who were deceived failed to tell the next one what he had seen—letting the damage spread from one person to the next instead.


(Pentti Harjumaa: Nätti-Jussin tarinoita II [Nätti-Jussi’s tales II], p. 41)

 

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Land of the Arctic Circle
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Mountain of the
Midnight Sun

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Finland’s Klondike
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From sleigh rides to the
age of the Concorde

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The nearest real hotel
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Santa Claus Land
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A city called by many
name
s - and the heroes
take the spoils

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Lumberjacks

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The movie:
At the Rovaniemi Market


 

 

G. A. Andersson:
At the Rovaniemi Market

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 


Travellers in Lapland - Info - 2007 University of Lapland