History of Haapavesi

Rural municipalities in Finland faced a new problem in the 1960s. Traditional occupations, such as agriculture and forestry, no longer provided jobs as much as earlier, so younger generations started moving away to the cities and Sweden. In Haapavesi the solution to the job shortage was industrialization. 

Since the 1960s Haapavesi industry grew over decades into a rarely occurring diverse one. Dairy, sawmill, textile and manufacture of automobile filters were the first industries to start in the 1960s. The production of prefabricated houses and wooden furniture began in the 1970s, manufacture of concrete products and medical electronics and mechanics started in the 1980s, and log house production in the 1990s. The largest single industrial investment is a peat power plant completed in 1989 and became the largest in its class in the world. Right now the peat power plant is being transformed into a biorefinery.

Haapavesi was founded in 1866 and declared a city in 1996.

We are a pioneer in education. The first folk school in Northern Finland was founded in the congregation in 1870. In 1892 provost Nora Pöyhönen established Haapavesi School of Housekeeping, the first household school for girls in Finland. Haapavesi College dates back 120 years educating people. Medical counsellor Konrad ReijoWaara (ealier Relander), who lived in Haapavesi and was a district doctor, has influenced the formation of Haapavesi College. 

Welcome to visit the sites and learn about industrial and educational history of Haapavesi.

The history of Haapavesi – up to this day – includes a strong skiing tradition.

There are many great skiers and other successful skiers from the area. To name a few, Aappo Luomajoki, Tapani Niku, Matti Ritola, Jussi Ritola, Matti Koskenkorva, Matti Mäkikangas and  Antti Ahola.

The skiing sizes of the place are appreciated here and will not go unnoticed by anyone who comes here. One of the landmarks is a statue of a skier built by Kalervo Kallio in 19.4.1964 with Erkki Rytky as a model.

Notable people of Haapavesi

Different artists and musicians make the history of Haapavesi. One of them is Pasi (Basilius) Jääskeläinen (1869-1920), singer, actor, maker and player of kantele. He was the first couplet singer in Finland. He participated in the first recording event in Helsinki in 1904 and recorded dozens of records between 1904 and 1911. One of the biggest hits of 1905 was Pasi’s “Remma ja Remma”.

Jääskeläinen performed mainly Finnish folk songs, but also Oskar Merikanto’s songs and songs by Hj.Nortamo, written for Rauma dialect. Jääskeläinen also performed for Finnish Americans in the United States in 1902.

Jääskeläinen also acted and founded a theater group called Suomalainen Operetti.    

While on tour in Haapavesi, Pasi Jääskeläinen was the singing teacher at school. Many kanteles weremade during carving classes at school. The most common model was a kantele designed by Pasi Jääskeläinen and based mainly on the traditional Haapavesi kantele model. The popularity of Pasi’s kanteles was influenced by its reputation as an excellent instrument and also a short distance from Pasi’s own kantele shop.

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Heikki Viranko (1902-1970), a municipal doctor was born in Helsinki, but worked in Haapavesi, on his own treated all the illnesses of all 8 000 inhabitants, even in remote villages and at any given time. He was a tireless, brave and skilled doctor, but above all he was he was an exceptionally gifted surgeon. He performed a lot of difficult surgeries in very basic conditions: he performed both appendicitis, abscesses and also caesarean section. He also performed medical examinations and consulted at school and maternity clinic.

Viranko also became known for his unique personality and his side-splitting and racy jokes. He was an a forward man who never spoke ill of anyone behind their back, but did not hold back in the face of anybody who deserved it. He did not try to soften his words when telling the patients about the disease or life expectancy, but told the cold facts using black humor. According to a story, an old woman had complained to the doctor about dizziness and hissing in her ears, which Viranko had diagnosed directly as: “The grave humming, the grave humming.” 

Heikki Viranko did not like to show off and was happy to put an arrogant fellow back in his place. He may have been rough on the outside, but deep down he was a sympathetic and understanding person. He apparently didn’t get along with the clergy at all because he couldn’t stand the hypocrisy. After hard work Viranko liked to relax by throwing a wild crayfish feast or go fishing on his days off. He often fished, undressed, from his boat all day long with his terrier Philip yapping by his side.  

Alexandra Eleonora (Nora) Pöyhönen, earlier Europaeus, the legend – provost Pöyhönen – founded in 1893 a school for domestic and horticultural education in Haapavesi. Later the name was changed to the school of housekeeping. It was the first household school for girls. The school was headed by Nora Pöyhönen’s children and grandchildren until 1990.  Teaching in the horticultural sector continues in Haapavesi Mustikkamäki as the part of Jokilaakso Education Municipal Association.  

Haapavesi residential school and the associated Mustikkamäki agricultural landscape are classified as nationally significant constructed cultural environments in Finland. The main villa-style building from 1911 along with the furniture, was designed by architect Wivi Lönn. It is surrounded by about 300 hectares of teaching space and household buildings. The new main building dates back to the 1960s.

Provost Nora Pöyhönen founded the cooking school’s horticultural garden in 1893 originally for her family in the Haapavesi parsonage. In 1906, she bought a nearby Alamaa farm and the school moved to its current place.

Juho Luomajoki (1843-1914) was born in Haapavesi and lived in the neighboring area of Leskelä in Piippola. He already showed sage abilities when he was little, but when he got blind, his reputation as a healer and sage grew popular and he received patients from all social classes, both from Finland and abroad. Sometimes he hosted dozens of patients in his house at the same time while they were receiving treatment.

Hätämaa sage helped people both in treatment of illnesses and, for example, in theft investigation, and he focused particularly in treating of the mentally ill. He used folk medicine, homemade medicine from natural plants and various poultices and saunas as medication. The sage also used spells and magic tricks to boost his medication.

The famous skier Aappo Luomajoki was his brother. Many believed at the time that the skier could have achieved his victory with the help of the magic ski wax made by his sage brother.

Matti Viinamaa (1859-1936) was a folk poet. During his lifetime Finland underwent many changes. The effects of the events were felt in the countryside, but only a few people understood the true significance of the events. Viina-Matti followed events, pondered and wrote. He became the village freak, despised and even feared, because he cleverly produced the libelous poems of people who offended him, his sense of justice, or his moral views.

Matti earned his living as a street artist by wandering around and performing his poems at people’s gatherings.   Different markets and singing festivals were good “earning trips” for Matti. Matti could get dressed in woman’s clothes and wear a kettle cozy as a costume. He viewed making libelous poems as work and a good means of getting money, but serious poetry was his heart’s desire. He was a sensitive lyricist who had trouble dealing with people who didn’t understand beauty.

Matti’s creativity was not limited to poetry, but he was also interested in various inventions. He designed various means of transport, instruments and even skis. Matti Viinamaa had an idea of a youth club; on his proposal, the youth club in Haapavesi was named Ahjola and the club’s magazine was named Virittäjä. Matti Viinamaa also won Folk poets competition organized by Suomen Kuvalehti.