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New Finland School District 435

SW 20 Tsp 17 R 33 W of the 1st Meridian


New Finland Post Office

Operational 1896-08-01 to 1921-06-30
Sec.20, Twp.17, R.33, W1

Clayridge Post Office

Operational 1949-03-14 to 1969-11-28
NW 1/4 Sec.10. Twp.17, R.1, W2

History of New Finland Colony covers 72 years of progress


- By Ralph Gallop -


.....The first settler to the New Finland district, twelve miles north of Wapella was David Jeremia Kautonen who arrived from Kauhava, Finland in 1888, and homesteaded on what is now SW 1/4 36-17 W2, where Matt Anderson farms today. His friend John Lautamus, joined him from Kauhava, on the same section in 1900, and Mrs. Lautamus and family arrived later in the year.

.....Although it was covered with black and white poplar, berry and willow bushes, with several ravines, sloughs and creeks, it was good fertile land. Wild life was plentiful, and the Cree Indians there tat the time sold furs and hides, and hauled wood to town with horse-drawn two-wheeled carts. There was also another tribe of transient Indians in the district during these early years. The settlers found that the Indians were friendly and caused no trouble.

.....Mr. and Mr. Mat Mustamas and their young son, Ernest, from Lapua, walked the twenty miles from Whitewood in 1891, carrying a bundle of clothing, and were met at Robert Velinard's in the Forest Farm district by Jeremiah Kautonen. John Kangas arrived in February, 1891, from Coppercliffe, Ont. and built his cabin with only a hand axe. He covered it with mud blocks to help keep out the cold.

.....Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Polvi and their son, Ed, arrived from Michigan, U.S.A. by wagon in 1892. Jacob Myllymaki, came from White Fish, Ont., and Solomon Petays settled in the growing district in 1895.

.....Settlers began to arrived in the colony with axes, saws, bedding, spinning wheels, and a few treasured dishes. The land was cleared and one-room log, brick and sod cabins were erected, which had birch bark on the roofs, with log floors. Many used grocery boxes for furniture.

.....Steam bath houses were also soon erected by these early settlers near their cabins. Some were as large as sixteen feet square. They had large stone fireplaces in one corner, where a fire was built to get the stones red hot. The fire would then be removed and the smoke cleared. A good refreshing steam bath could then be enjoyed by throwing water on the red hot stones.

.....The settlers soon became almost self-sufficient. The woman made most of the clothing which included skin breeches, vests and jackets for the men, and dresses, shawls and head squares for the women. Oxen and wooden implements were used to break the land, and wheat was sown by hand, and cut with scythes.

.....It took nearly twenty-four hours to go to town, where logs were traded for provisions. In later years the mill, school, and the rink in Wapella were heated with cord wood hauled in by sleighs from the colony, and the singing voices of the men would ring through the cold crisp air as they started their long journey home.

.....Entertainment, in the settlement usually consisted of church picnics in the summer. Music was usually supplied by accordions and mouth organs.

.....Isaac Norman opened the first store in his home, in the settlement, during the early 1900's. As the community grew, William Polvi several years later opened a store in his home during the 1930's.

.....The first blacksmith was Gus Hedberg, who lived near the present Len Lautamus farm. Mikhael Myllymaki, owned the fist steam engine, sawmill and shingle making machine in the district. He was the Justice of the Peace for the community, which was visited about once a month by the police to help keep law and order. Jack Tuokko started a tannery in the 1930's.

.....The first school classes were held at Myllymaki's about 1893. A meeting was held at the Myllymaki home on August 15, 1896, with sixteen ratepayers in attendance and the New Finland school district was formed with Samuel Kivela as chairman, Herman Huhtala and Joseph Soini as trustees, and A.E. Gallin as secretary. Two months later Isaac Kallio was named chairman and I.C. Bond became secretary. Mikhael Myllymaki donated one acre of land in the north west corner of Sec. 20-33-17-1, where the foundation for a twenty - five feet by twenty feet log building, eleven feet high, was started on November 3rd, [1895?].

.....The first teacher in 1897, was William Rose, who held six months classes from May. He taught for three years at a salary of $30 per month. Many of the teachers who followed him were university students, and the first teacherage was built a few years later. Hugh McGavin taught there during 1900 and 1901, and was followed by P.D. Miller, who taught the classes until 1905. Jacob Myllymaki was chairman of the board for forty years, and Gus Knuttila was secretary for some thirty five years.

.....The Finnish Synod Evangelical Lutheran Church congregation, consisting of nineteen families, was organized on November 1, 1893, and was legalized in January, 1894. The first board chairman was G. Laine, Pastors from the U.S.A. visited the community for some thirty years, with the first regular pastor being K. Houtart.

.....The building of a church to serve the community began in 1907, by Mikki Luoma, and was completed on the SE 1/4, on Sec. 36, on the 2nd Meridian, in 1910. The building of a two-storey seven-room frame parsonage was started in 1927 under Oscar Salo, with volunteer help from the congregation. The first pastor to move in was W. Tervo.

.....In 1934, the church was moved five miles south to its present location, in the same yard as the parsonage, by Harry Klenman. The building was cut in half and moved in two sections by steam engine tractors and wagons. A church basement was completed in 1945, supervised by John Salo. The steeple was completed in 1948, as a memorial to those from the community who were killed during the two world wars. Some 29 pastors have served New Finland, with Pastor A.W. Koski serving the longest period, from 1940 until 1953. The present congregation consists of some 120 members, which includes a twenty member choir.

.....There is also an active Luther Society. K. Koski is the present pastor.

.....A telephone company was formed in the district in 1919. Some were served from Wapella and the northern section of the district was served from Tantallon. During the 1930's this was one of the many districts in Canada to make good use of the barbed wire telephone lines to keep in contact with one another.

.....On April 4th, 1911, the New Finland Temperance Society was formed, with Charles Kallio as president, John Knuttila as vice president, Arvid Kinta as secretary, Gus Huhtala. as vice secretary, Isaac Polvi as treasurer, John Kangas as chaplain, and Miss [Helfo?] Lautamus as steward. The society erected a large hall in 1914, which served the community for many years, and was transferred to the "Community Hall" in 1951. The hall has not been used for several years, and now stands on a corner on the meridian and is becoming overgrown with trees.

.....Six acres were purchased in December 1931, from Isaac Wilson, following the forming of a community recreation club. Two ball diamonds were made on the land as well as an open air skating and curling rink. A refreshment booth was also erected on the grounds and the annual community picnics have been held there. A hockey team from the colony used to come to Wapella, in sleighs, on Saturday afternoons, for a game against the Wapella team, and curlers from there often came to town for a curling match.

.....The first post office in the district was at the home of Samuel Kivela, which was later moved to Patti Myllmaki's and then to Joseph Soini's, before much of the community was served by a rural mail route from Tantallon to the north. Prior to the post office serving the district, the mail was taken out for neighbours by anyone from the colony who happened to be in town. These settlers often walked to town, or came on snow shoes and skins, on which they made exceptionally good time. A post office was later opened in a store at Clayridge, which was started in the 1930's. The name Clayridge, for postal purposes, was chosen because of a ridge of fertile clay, which ran through the area. When the rural route was discontinued from Tantallon, many of the community erected boxes and have been served by a rural route from Wapella.

.....Many of the boys from the district served in the armed services during the two world wars. A school Victory Club was organized during 1940, and the club and the Luther League ladies made up and sent many hampers to these men serving abroad. A welcome home dance was held in the hall for those who returned. Two of the boys from the district, Arne Knuttila and Ralph Mantysaari, who were killed in action, were missing.

.....A meeting was held at the home of William Polvi, in November, 1925, to form the Convent Creek school district No. 4540 in the growing community. Ed Polvi was named chairman with William Polvi and Matt Hakala as trustees. John Knuttila was sec.-treas. A school was built by Oscar Solo, and opened with teacher J. Elmer Park and twenty-one pupils in attendance on August 18, 1926. During the 1930's, salaries dropped as low as $500 per year for the teachers, who also did the caretaking duties. Teachers who taught at the school here included: Keith T. McLoed, Gordon Evana McLeod, W.D. Thompson, Mrs. M. E. Holma, Phyllis M. Perrin, W.B. Metzler and Martha F. Knuttila. Martin Ivar Dorma and Ruth Wilson also served as study supervisors at the school. The school district became part of the Moosomin school unit in 1953, and the ratepayers recently voted to close the school. Students will be conveyed to Wapella, Rocanville and Whitewood schools. The present school board consists of Ed Knuttila, A. Polvi and Ed Schramm, with Charles Knuttila as secretary.

.....The last teacher was Walter Knuttila, who was born in the colony, and who, like many of the other boys from the district, attended high school in Wapella where they excelled particularly in track and field events.

.....During the years this progressive settlement has grown from a small quarter section of land in 1888 to cover an area of approximately fifteen square miles.

.....(Our thanks are extended to Walter Knuttila for his co-operation and interest in making much of the above information available.)

..... Published circa 1972 by the Wapella Post, and reprinted here with kind permission from the The World-Spectator who subsequently purchased the Wapella Post.

Scans of the primary source document.

(external link for futher information) Saskatchewan Settlement Experience "The New Finland school, north of Wapella."


Note: "History of New Finland Colony covers 72 years of progress" is a newspaper article written by Ralph Gallop in approximately 1972. The term colony is used in the sense that there is an area or district of Saskatchewan where people of mainly Finnish origin settled.

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