Finnish Canadians

Finnish Canadians are Canadian citizens of Finnish ancestry or Finns who emigrated to and reside in Canada. According to the 2001 census number over 131,040 Canadians claim Finnish ancestry. Finns started coming to Canada in the early 1880s, and in much larger numbers in the early 20th century and well into the mid-20th century. Finnish immigration to Canada was often a direct result of economic depressions and wars, or in the aftermath of major conflicts like the Finnish Civil War.[2][3] Canada was often chosen as a final destination because of the similarity in climate and natural conditions, while employment in logging or homesteading attracted landless farmers in the early 20th century.[4] Migratory movements of Finns between Canada and the United States was very common as well.[5]

In the early 20th century, newly arrived Finnish immigrants to Canada quickly became involved in political organizations, churches, athletic clubs and other forms of associational life.[6][7] Halls and co-operatives were often erected in communities with sizable Finnish populations. "Finnish Canadians" pioneered efforts to establish co-operatives in several Canadian cities. Canada's largest co-operative, the Consumers' Co-operative Society, was started by Finns.

The 2011 Census recorded 136,215 Canadians who claimed Finnish ancestry,[1] an increase compared to the 2006 Census.[8]

Finnish Canadians
Kanadansuomalaiset, Kanadafinländare
Total population
(by ancestry, 2011 Census)[1]
0.4% of the Canadian population
Regions with significant populations
 British Columbia31,610[1]
Related ethnic groups
Finnish Americans, Estonian Canadians


The earliest Finnish immigrants to Canada came from the US, possibly as early as 1820's for the construction of the Welland Canal. The Canadian Pacific Railway recruited immigrants directly from Finland in the late 1800s.[9]

Canadians of Finnish ancestry often formed a large percentage of left-wing organizations during the early 1900s, as Finland had, by 1906 as a part of the Russian empire, already become one of the first nations to adopt universal suffrage. Up until the early 1940s, the so-called "Red Finns," who held deep socialist convictions, far outnumbered "White Finns," the more religious and conservative Finns. This was partially due to the number of political refugees escaping persecution after the Finnish Civil War, but also attributable to the response of several, formerly apolitical Finns from rural Ostrobothnia, to harsh economic conditions. Finnish Canadians with Marxist political views aligned themselves with the Social Democratic Party of Canada and later, with the Communist Party of Canada, centered around the newspaper Vapaus (Freedom). Many Finns, however, were distrustful of politicians as a result of the perceived failure and reformism of the Finnish Social Democratic Party during the general strike in November 1917 and the reformist policy the party adopted after the Civil War. Finns arriving in Canada who had already faced severe class conflict and repression would line-up with the radical union, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) emphasizing anti-authoritarianism and anti-statism. The IWW would hold considerable influence in the mines and logging camps of Northern Ontario.

A decline in the Finnish-Canadian population began with the exodus 2000-3000[10] skilled workers and loggers to Soviet Karelia in the 1920s and 30s, and the large number of Finnish-Canadian volunteers in the Spanish Civil War. Finnish-Canadians, along with Ukrainians, formed the largest section of volunteers in the Canadian contingent of the International Brigades, Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion. Finns formed the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalions "Ilkka" machine-gun company. The period after the 1930s marks a decline in Finnish co-operative activity in Canada.

Canada started seeing a drastic increase in immigration from Finland during the late 1920s and forward, as the United States Immigration Act of 1924 did not consider Finland to be among the Western European favourable countries to have immigration from, resulting in a strong restriction of 500 Finnish immigrants per year to the US.[11] Despite conservative "White" Finnish support for Nazi Germany during World War II, Canadian immigration policy in the 1940s favoured admitting "White Finns" to Canada. This, combined with a fiercely anti-socialist view in the post-World War II era, led to a shift in the political balance of the Finnish-Canadian community.

Demographic concentrations

Thunder Bay skyline
Thunder Bay, Ontario is home to 14,510 people of Finnish descent, the highest concentration of Finnish Canadians per capita in the country,[12] and the second largest Finnish population in Canada after Toronto which has 14,750 persons of Finnish origin.

Central Canada (mainly Ontario) has generally been the largest destination for Finns, followed by British Columbia, recording 72,990 (ON) and 29,875 (BC) Finns in 2006. Several small rural Finnish communities were established in Alberta and Saskatchewan.[13]

Today, the communities of Thunder Bay, Sudbury and New Finland form the main centres of Finnish-Canadian activity. Thunder Bay boasts the largest Finnish population outside of Fennoscandia, and the only Finnish cultural centre in Canada, housed in the Finnish Labour Temple along with the Hoito Restaurant. The Finnish-Canadian weeklies Canadan Sanomat and Vapaa Sana publish out of Thunder Bay and Toronto respectively. Another significant Finnish-Canadian newspaper, Vapaus, was published in Sudbury from 1917 to 1974. Other prominent communities are Sault Ste. Marie, Kirkland Lake and Timmins, in Ontario.

Finnish Canadians by province or territory

Finnish Canadian population by province and territory in Canada in 2011:

Province or territory Finnish Canadians Percentage
 Canada 136,215 0.4%
 Ontario 74,505
 British Columbia 31,610
 Alberta 16,285
 Saskatchewan 4,470
 Manitoba 3,850
 Quebec 2,725
 Nova Scotia 1,115
 New Brunswick 710
 Yukon 435
 Newfoundland and Labrador 225
 Prince Edward Island 160
 Northwest Territories 100
 Nunavut 25

Notable Finnish Canadians

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Statistics Canada. "2011 National Household Survey: Data tables". Retrieved 11 February 2014.
  2. ^ Adamson, Julia (14 Mar 2010). "- SGW - Finnish Saskatchewan Genealogy Roots". Saskatchewan History and Ethnic Roots. Saskatchewan Gen Web Project. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  3. ^ Johnson, Gilbert (1962), "Prairie People "The New Finland Colony".", Saskatchewan History (digitised online 30-Nov-2010 with permission from Saskatchewan Archivist by the New Finland Historical and Heritage Society, Julia Adamson), XV Spring 1962 Number 2, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: Saskatchewan Archives Board, p. 69
  4. ^ Cleef, Eugene Van (1952), Finnish Settlement in Canada (republished online genealogia, The Genealogical Society of Finland), The Geographical Review 1952, p. 253-266., pp. 253–266, retrieved 2010-10-07
  5. ^ Wishart, David J (2004), Encyclopedia of the Great Plains (illustrated, annotated ed.), U of Nebraska Press, p. 230, ISBN 978-0-8032-4787-1, ISBN 0-8032-4787-7
  6. ^ Gallop, Ralph (1972). "History of New Finland Colony covers 72 years of progress" (digitised online October 25, 2009 by the New Finland Historical and Heritage Society, Red Lauttamus and Julia Adamson). Wapella Post, now The World-Spectator. Retrieved 2010-12-08.
  7. ^ Anderson, Alan (2006). "Finnish settlements". Canadian Plains Research Center, University of Regina. Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ Lindström-Best, Varpu (Fall 1981). "Geographical perspectives on Finnish Canadian immigration and settlement". Polyphony. 3 (2): 16. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  10. ^ Karni, Michael G (1981). Finnish diaspora I : Canada, South America, Africa, Australia and Sweden. Toronto: Multicultural History Society of Ontario. p. 203. ISBN 0-919045-08-1.
  11. ^ John Powell, "Encyclopedia of North American immigration", p. 99 | When passage of the restrictive Johnson-Reed act in 1924 drastically cut the Finnish quota, Finns increasingly turned their attention to Canada.
  12. ^ Profile of Ethnic Origin and Visible Minorities for Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2006 Census. Statistics Canada. Retrieved 13 March 2009.
  13. ^ The Canadian Encyclopedia. "Finns". Retrieved 14 February 2014.

External links

Canada–Finland relations

Canadian-Finnish relations are foreign relations between Canada and Finland. Diplomatic relations between them were established on November 21, 1947. Canada is represented in Finland through its embassy in Helsinki. Finland has an embassy in Ottawa and 13 honorary consulates (in Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Quebec City, Regina, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Timmins, Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg).

Estonian Canadians

Estonian Canadians (Estonian: Kanada eestlased) are Canadian citizens or residents of Estonian descent or Estonian-born people who reside in Canada. Currently 24,530 people of Estonian descent live in Canada.(according to some sources up to 50,000 people).

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, about 17,000 arrived in Canada. The city with the largest population of Estonians outside Estonia is Toronto. The first Estonian World Festival was held in Toronto in 1972.

Some notable Estonian Canadians include Kalle Lasn, Endel Tulving, Elmar Tampõld and Uno Prii.

Finnish Americans

Finnish Americans (Finnish: Amerikansuomalaiset) comprise Americans with ancestral roots from Finland or Finnish people who emigrated to and reside in the United States. The Finnish American population numbers about 700,000.

Finns proper

Finns proper (from Swedish Finnar or egentliga Finnar, Finnish: Varsinaissuomalaiset) are a historic people and a modern subgroup (heimo) of the Finnish people. They live in areas of the historical province of Finland Proper (Varsinais-Suomi) and speak Southwestern dialects of Finnish. Finns proper had very early strong connections to Scandinavia.Originally, the exonym "Finland" and the endonym "Suomi" referred only to the Southwestern region inhabited by Finns proper. Later, the meaning of these names expanded to refer to the whole area of modern Finland. Earlier, the name "Finn" meant Sami people, especially in older Norse sagas.The Russian name Сумь, 'Sum', which appears in Novgorodian chronicles, is believed to refer to Finns proper. "Sums" are mentioned as allies of Swedes at the Battle of Neva at 1240.

Ingrian Finns

The Ingrians (Finnish: inkeriläiset / inkerinsuomalaiset; Russian: Ингерманландцы, romanized: Ingermanlandts'i), sometimes called Ingrian Finns, are the Finnish population of Ingria (now the central part of Leningrad Oblast in Russia), descending from Lutheran Finnish immigrants introduced into the area in the 17th century, when Finland and Ingria were both parts of the Swedish Empire. In the forced deportations before and after World War II most of them were relocated to other parts of the Soviet Union. Today the Ingrian Finns constitute the largest part of the Finnish population of the Russian Federation. According to some records, some 25,000 Ingrian Finns have returned or still reside in the Saint Petersburg region.

Kven people

Kvens (Kven/Finnish: kveeni, Norwegian: kvener, Swedish: kväner, Northern Sami: kveanat) are a Finnic ethnic minority in Norway. They descended from Finnish peasants and fishermen who emigrated from the northern parts of Finland and Sweden to Northern Norway in the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1996, the Kvens were granted minority status in Norway, and in 2005 the Kven language was recognized as a minority language in Norway.


Lutefisk (Norwegian, pronounced [²lʉːtfɛsk] in Northern and parts of Central Norway, [²lʉːtəˌfɪsk] in Southern Norway) or lutfisk (Swedish, pronounced [²lʉːtfɪsk] in Sweden and Finland; Finnish: lipeäkala [ˈlipeæˌkɑlɑ]) is a traditional dish of some Nordic countries. It is traditionally part of the Norwegian julebord and Swedish julbord, as well as the similar Finnish joulupöytä.

It is made from aged stockfish (air-dried whitefish) or dried/salted whitefish (klippfisk) and lye (lut). It is gelatinous in texture. Its name literally means "lye fish".

Mackenzie–Papineau Battalion

The Mackenzie–Papineau Battalion or Mac-Paps were a battalion of Canadians who fought as part of the XV International Brigade on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War. Except for France, no other country gave a greater proportion of its population as volunteers in Spain than Canada. The first Canadians in the conflict were dispatched mainly with the U.S. Abraham Lincoln Battalion and later the North American George Washington Battalion, with about forty Canadians serving in each group. The XV International Brigade was involved in the Battle of Jarama in which nine Canadians are known to have been killed.


March is the third month of the year and named after Mars in both the Julian and Gregorian calendars. It is the second of seven months to have a length of 31 days. In the Northern Hemisphere, the meteorological beginning of spring occurs on the first day of March. The March equinox on the 20 or 21 marks the astronomical beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and the beginning of autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, where September is the seasonal equivalent of the Northern Hemisphere's March. Birthday Number the letter "M".

New Finland

New Finland or Uusi Suomi is a district in the Qu'Appelle valley, the south eastern part of the province of Saskatchewan, Canada.

Uusi Suomi is Finnish for "New Finland", the name adopted by this Finnish block settlement. The homesteaders found an area in Saskatchewan near Qu'Appelle River which resembled the homeland of Finland both in geography and climate. The earliest settler arrived in 1888, and was followed by Finnish immigrants from Finland as well as from the iron ore mines of Minnesota and Dakota regions in the United States. The centre of the New Finland district consisted of a church, hall, and schoolhouse. Finland was undergoing profound changes following Tsar Nicholas II's February manifesto which was a main factor initiating the Great Exodus from Finland. The Canadian Pacific Railway along with Canadian immigration minister Clifford Sifton were advertising both abroad and in the United States encouraging settlement to Canada's "Last Best West". The community which arose had strong religious beliefs and celebrated Finnish cultural traditions.

Rosvall and Voutilainen

Viljo Rosvall and Janne Voutilainen were two Finnish-Canadian unionists from Thunder Bay, Ontario and members of the Lumber Workers Industrial Union of Canada who mysteriously disappeared on November 18, 1929. The two were on their way to a bushcamp near Onion Lake to recruit sympathetic bushworkers for a large strike which was gaining momentum west of Thunder Bay in Shabaqua and Shebandowan.


Savakot (plural; singular: Savakko) is one of the two main ethnic groups of Ingrian Finns, the other being Äyrämöiset. Savakot are the descendants of the Savonian people migrated to Swedish Ingria (which now part of Russia) from Savonia.According to Peter Köppen, in the middle of the 19th century there were 43,000 Savakot on the Karelian Isthmus. In 1929 in Leningrad Oblast there were about 115,000 "Leningrad Finns", which counted both Savakot and Äyrämöiset and excluded "Finland Finns" (which numbers were 13,000). At that time (1929) their urban population was insignificant. At the same time, their literacy level was among the highest (72%), which was given as a reason for the higher level of their agriculture. Agriculture was their major occupation, with shoreside population engaged in fishing, and small part engaged in logging. Later the self-identification of Savakot disappeared.

Savonian people

Savonians (Finnish: Savolaiset, Savonian: Savolaaset, Savolaeset) are a subgroup of the Finnish people descending from the inhabitants of historical province of Savonia. Savonians differ from other Finnish clans by their dialect (see Savonian dialects) and cultural tradition. Originally they are descendants of the historical Finnish Karelians and the Tavastians. Nowadays the historical homeland of the Savonians is divided between the provinces of Northern Savonia and Southern Savonia. The regional identity of Savonians, like that of the other traditional Finnish clans, is declining. Savonians and Karelians were the first people in Finland who started to use surnames during the Middle Ages. These surnames are recognisable for containing the "nen" diminutive.

Savonians traditionally practiced slash-and-burn agriculture.

During 16th and 17th centuries many Savonians emigrated to Eastern Norway and Central Sweden and became known as the Forest Finns there. In the 17th century there was also migration to Swedish Ingria (now part of Russia), where they are known as Savakot and are collectively known as the Ingrian Finns with the other migrant group, Äyrämöiset (Finnish Karelians).

The stereotypical Savonian is talkative, easy-going, jolly and humorous, occasionally even to an offensive excess. Traditionally, the Savonian people have often been considered as "sneaky" and "mendacious." However, recent research has shown that this infamy is largely due to misunderstandings caused by the traditional Savonian social indirectness.

Scandinavian Canadians

Scandinavian Canadians are Canadian citizens with ancestral roots in Scandinavia. They generally include:

Danish Canadians

Faroese Canadians

Greenlandic Canadians

Finnish Canadians

Icelandic Canadians

Norwegian Canadians

Sami Canadians

Swedish CanadiansThe highest concentration of Scandinavian Canadians is in Western Canada, especially British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

There are nearly 1.2 million Canadians of Scandinavian descent, or 4% of the total population of the country.


Tavastians (Finnish: Hämäläiset, Swedish: tavaster, Russian: Емь, Yem, Yam) are a historic people and a modern subgroup (heimo) of the Finnish people. They live in areas of the historical province of Tavastia (Häme) and speak Tavastian dialects.


The Tornedalians are descendants of Finns who, at some point, settled to the areas of today's Northern Sweden near the Torne Valley district and west from there.


Wanup is a community in the Ontario city of Greater Sudbury. Formerly an unincorporated community in the geographic township of Dill, Wanup was annexed into Greater Sudbury on January 1, 2001 when that city was created by amalgamating the former Regional Municipality of Sudbury.

The community is located along Highway 537, near the interchange with Highway 69. The smaller neighbourhood of St. Cloud, which is treated as part of Wanup for postal delivery and telephone exchange purposes, is located a few kilometres north of Wanup in the former geographic township of Cleland.

War in popular culture

The following is a list of pop culture references to war.


The Äyrämöiset or, as the Russians call them, Evrimeiset, are a Finnish language-speaking people who lived in the Saint Petersburg Oblast and earlier also on the Finnish part of the Karelian Isthmus. Äyrämöiset are one of the two main Finnish groups in St. Petersburg Oblast, the other being the Savakot. Most of the Äyrämöiset are Lutherans. The name äyrämöiset (äkrämöiset) comes from the ancient county of Äyräpää (Äkräpää) in the Western part of the Karelian Isthmus - which was a part of the kingdom of Sweden after 1323 AD. In earlier times existed as well an agricultural deity called Äkräs (Ägräs), the god of beans, peas and hemp and the mythological forefather of the äyrämöiset.

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