View Full Version : A tenant family's Christmas gift eviction

June Pelo
10-11-05, 23:16
My grandfather told me that when our people first arrived in Finland they could walk to whatever area they wished and lay out the boundaries of whatever land they chose. Later, after execution of a universal land division, when everything was put in order, land which peasant-farmers had not claimed became crown lands. After that, owners of private farm property began to allocate portions of their land to tenant farmers and to hill cottagers who were obligated to work for the landowner in return for their use of their land. They had to fell forests and burn weeds, brush and slash in order to create fields and pastures.

However, after the landowners' opened up lands began to show profit, the owners began to evict their tenants and cottagers from their allocated lands. That part of history I have experienced, for my ten-child family was evicted from our allotted land at a time when we sorely needed our home, and it took place on Christmas Eve. It was a wealthy man's Christmas gift to a large impoverished family. Thereafter, we went onto crown lands in a roadless wilderness. Our nearest neighbor was two kilometers away. In the summer we traveled along cattle paths. We couldn't get there by wagon. What we were unable to carry on our backs we had to load onto the back of our horse.

We children had to leave that impoverished home as soon as our wings could carry us. I was 16 years old when I left and went to Canada. Since then, I have constantly tried to aid father and mother and all others left behind and still alive in that poor home. My home was far from the only one from which a family was evicted. I have bitter memories of how the gentry or lords of the land treated their own people. This strang foreign land (Canada) has treated us far, far better. I have not felt much love or patriotism in respect to my native country.

True, a worker's life here hasn't been easy. Our home has not been elaborate but, once we've built it, there have been no arbitrary evictions. Christmas does not bring great gifts here either, but small though it may be, we have a secure home. As children we didn't understand concepts such as inequality. However, as we've aged we have learned to understand and demand human rights and equality. My formative years were such that I have had and still have no desire to return to the land of my birth.

I. Seppälä, Thunder Bay, Ont.
FAR November 2005

There are countless accounts of children leaving home as early as six or seven to take jobs as shepherds or caretakers of children. Isn't that ironic? Children as caretakers of others' children...The lessons of history are not all pretty and pleasing, but knowing them helps explain past actions of our forebears.

Belva Todd
11-11-05, 15:35
Wow! What a wondrful article, may we all think more of how our ancestors lived, and be ever so thankful what they went through to make our lives so rich today... God Bless
More of these stories would be great as so many left it all behind and didn't share those memories with those of us who were born in their new world.
Thank you very much and keep up the great work.

11-11-05, 16:11
My great grandfather lived with his family in a small cottage with a leaking roof in Sandsund village in Pederöre. He emigrated in 1889 to the USA and promised he would send money to mend the roof and finally tickets to America for the whole family. No money ever came and he vanished.

His children were auctioned out to richer families. Finally my great grandmother gathered her children and her belongings and they walked the few miles into Jakobtad to look for work. They had their possessions on a wheel barrow. Half way into town they paused at a small cottage to ask for a drink of water, which they got.

Among the things they had was a table clock made by Waterbury Clock Company, Conn. Ggm wanted to ease her burden and asked the people in the cottage if she could leave the clock there and said that she would fetch it later. They had nothing against it and she left the clock there and never came back for it.

Many years later my uncle Erik, who was an ornithologist came to the same cottage on one of his field trips and knocked on the door asking for a glass of water, which he got. When he was leaving, the people in the cottage asked if he would take his clock with him. Then heard the story of how it got there. The cottage hade changed owners many times over the years, but every time the old owner told the new one that the clock is not a part of the sale "It's Portin's, and they will fetch it"

So uncle Erik took the clock with him. A few years after he had died my father bought it and now it's standing on a side table in my living room.

How the cloxk had come into my great grandmother's possession no one knows, but a few years ago when I had it repaired we found the year 1889 engraved in the clockwork frame.


June Pelo
11-11-05, 21:12
Here are some pictures of Waterbury clocks and a history of the company.






12-11-05, 13:04
And here is a picture of the clock I wrote about: