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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

A Historical Geography of the Finns in the Sudbury Area

By Oiva W. Saarinen
Subjects History, Canadian History, Geography
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Paperback : 9780889203532, 343 pages, November 1999
Ebook (PDF) : 9780889206229, 343 pages, January 2006

Table of contents

Table of Contents for Between a Rock and a Hard Place: A Historical Geography of the Finns in the Sudbury Area by Oiva W. Saarinen
List of Tables, Figures, Maps, Aerial Photograph and Biographies
I. Finnish Settlement in Canada
Demographic Characteristics
II. Geographical Pattern of Finnish Settlement in the Sudbury Area
Migration to the Sudbury Area
Copper Cliff
Temporary Mining Camps
Company Towns of Garson and Creighton
Sudbury and Environs
Rural Enclaves
Waters Township
Lorne Township (Beaver Lake)
Louise Township (Whitefish)
Broder Township (Long Lake)
Dill, Cleland, Secord and Burwash Townships (Wanup)
Post-World War II Trends
Lake Panache Recreational Zone
Florida as a Winter Destination
III. The Great Divide
The Legacy of Finland
The Influence of Russia/Soviet Union
The United States Factor
Domestic Factors
Early Factionalism in Copper Cliff
Shift of Radicalism to Sudbury
Socialism and the Labour Movement
Vapaus, the FOC and Communism
The Comintern and the Bolshevization Controversy
The Finnish Crisis
Split with the Co-operative Movement
Communist Trials and Deportation
Sale of Liberty Hall
Government Surveillance
Conservative Countermovement
Finnish State
Finnish National Society of Sudbury and the Central Organization of Loyal Finns in Canada
The Fighting Church
Vapaa Sana
World War II and Its Aftermath
Finnish-Canadian War Effort
Left-Wing Suppression
Canada-Finland Assistance
Finnish Canadian Historical Society
Growth and Consolidation of the Church
Centennial Year and Finland Week
Decline of FOC, COLFC and Vapaus
Finnish Canadian Cultural Federation
Finnish Institutions and the Canadianization Process
IV. Finns in the Workplace
Labour Force (1883–1945)
Mining and Construction
Workers’ Rights and the Labour Movement
Gender Equality in the Labour Force
White-Collar Pursuits
Post-World War II Employment
V. Finnish Cultural Contributions to the Sudbury Area
Athletic Clubs
Cross-Country Skiing
Track and Field
The Summer Festival Tradition
Performing Arts
The Sauna
Knights and Ladies of Kaleva Organizations
Sudbury Finnish Rest Home Society
Sudbury Suomi Lions Club
Finnish War Veterans (Sudbury)
Finnish Language Schools
Symbolic Ethnicity
VI. Conclusions and Retrospect


Where else can that well-known phrase be better applied than to a study of the Finns in Sudbury? “Rock” defines the physical reality of the Sudbury setting: rugged hills, mines, farms and forests set in the Precambrian Shield. “Hard” defines the human setting: Finnish immigrants having to contend with the problems and stresses of relocating to a new culture, with livelihoods that required great endurance as well as a tolerance for hazardous conditions.
Since 1883 Finnish immigrants in Sudbury, men and women alike, have striven to improve their lot through the options available to them. Despite great obstacles, the Finns never flagged in their unwavering fight for workers’ rights and the union movement. And as agricultural settlers, labour reformers, builders of churches, halls, saunas and athletic fields, Finns left an indelible imprint on the physical and human landscape. In the process they have played an integral part in the transformation of Sudbury from a small struggling rail town to its present role as regional capital of northwestern Ontario.
This penetrating study of the cultural geography of the Finns in the Sudbury region provides an international, national and local framework for analysis — a model for future studies of other cultural groups.


  • Commended, Outstanding Academic Title, Choice 2000


Devoted to the `historical geography' of the many Finns who settled in the Sudbury mining area of northwestern Ontario, Saarinen's monograph is a model of impeccable scholarship and a thorough examination of the `Finnish factor' in the social, economic, cultural, and political development of this hardscrabble region of mid-Canada....Although Canadian in its historical context, this work contributes especially to the understanding of Finnish immigration, the unique texture of Finnish cultural adaptation to blue-collar lives in North American mining centers, and the nature of ethnic retention among them, whether they settled north or south of the US-Canadian border.

- K. Smemo, Choice

Reading Between a Rock and Hard Place was a moving experience for me, as names and faces of people who were part of my childhood are not only placed in the historical context, but given respect and honour. The challenges facing the early immigrants are almost impossible to imagine, yet Oiva Saarinen has made them come alive -- a remarkable achievement in a historical text.

- Judy Erola, former minister of State for Mines (1980),minister responsible for the Status of Women (1982) and ministerof Corporate and Consumer Affairs (1983).