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  • Alli Amanda Louisa Belton (1905 - d.)
    Birth 1905 Familysearch Marriage 1924 Familysearch
  • Stiina Amanda Juhontytär Kiiskinen (1873 - 1925)
    Pielisjärvi syntyneet 1859-1878 (AP) Sivu 211 ; SSHY / Viitattu 16.05.2022 Amanda Pakarinen Rekisteri Matkustajaluettelo Määräpaikkakunta Fitchburg Kohdemaa USA Kohdeosavaltio MA Lähtöpäivä Suomesta 1...
  • Otto Kiiskinen (1878 - 1972)
    Pielisjärvi, syntyneet, 1859-1878 (AP) kuva 304 sivu 300 vuosi 1878 maaliskuu Kylänlahti 26 (18.3.1878) tässä Otto. Pielisjärvi rippikirja 1900-1909 (AP_I I Aa:29) Sivu 413 Kylänlahti 26 ; SSHY / Vii...
  • Irene Patterson (1910 - 1995)
    Death 1995 Royal BC Museum

Fort William Finns is a sub-group of the Thunder Bay Finns group. It has been created for research purposes. Finnish immigrants began to arrive in the Thunder Bay area in the mid 1870’s. At that time, the destination was either the City of Fort William, Ontario, Canada or the City of Port Arthur, Ontario, Canada until the two cities were amalgamated in 1970 to become the City of Thunder Bay. After amalgamation the active Finnish cultural aspects of the community has shifted to the north side of Thunder Bay formerly the City of Port Arthur. With post-war Finnish immigrants settling primarily on the north side of Thunder Bay coupled with a vanishing Finnish presence on the south side, the history of the Fort William Finns dating back to the 1880’s is a story very few know about.

This project is attempting to identify Finns and Finnish-Canadians who emigrated to Fort William or who were born in Fort William or who lived as a home owner / renter or as a family member in Fort William prior to 1970. The family can have either both parents or only one parent to be of Finnish descent. Fort William Finns might find themselves under one or more categories, namely,

  • Immigrants who came to Fort William and remained
  • Immigrants who came to Fort William until they could find a homestead in the rural Thunder Bay District
  • Immigrants who homesteaded in the rural Thunder Bay District but later moved to the city of Fort William

In the March 2021 edition of The Finnish American Reporter, there was an article by Sharon Franklin-Rahkonen where she was introducing an upcoming online lecture by Dr. Hilary-Joy Virtanen who holds a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Scandinavian Folklore. Her lecture is on the topic “What’s Finnishness and What’s American in Finnish American Traditions?” In the article, Sharon Franklin-Rahkonen writes – “For 150 years, Finnish Americans have created a culture of their own by blending Old Country traditions with practices either adapted from multiethnic neighbours or created in response to a new life in America.” Did Fort William Finns follow a similar path? The Fort William Finns project will attempt to assess the various mixed cultural neighbourhoods that developed in the 1900's in Fort William's historical Finn part of town and how that may have affected the subsequent cultural traditions that evolved.

Some of the history of Fort William Finns has already been documented in publications, such as:

  • Project Bay Street Activities of Finnish-Canadians in Thunder Bay before 1915, published in 1989 by the Thunder Bay Finnish-Canadian Historical Society and edited by Marc Metsaranta
  • History of Finnish Business in the Thunder Bay Area, published in 2006 by the Thunder Bay Finnish-Canadian Historical Society and edited by Martti Kajorinne
  • A century of Sport in the Finnish Community of Thunder Bay, co-published in 2013 by Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame and the Thunder Bay Finnish-Canadian Historical Society
  • From Finland to Nolalu The Making of Me and You, published in 2020 by Eldon J. Oja