The history of Kierinki village

On these pages you will find the abridged history and old photographs of the village and of past village events.

Stories of Kierinki

Kaarina Kumpula gathered information and published a book about the stories of Kierinki at her own expense in 2000. She researched the historical settlement, family trees and the historical way of life.

The links give an abridged history of Kierinki, based on Kaarina Kumpula’s research.

History 1850 -

There is very little historical data about Kierinki. Only a few archaeological artefacts have been found. In 1887 an iron axe head was discovered, similar axe heads from 900 A.D. have been known to exist in Northern Norway. A stone tool presumed to have been used as a chopping instrument and in addition a reindeer antler tool used for removing the inner layer of tree bark for making flour for bread, especially in years when the grain harvest was poor, have been found.

In 1976 a copper coin from 1763, with the text Stora Kopparberg: SL:Pol was found. The historical Stora Kopparberg province was situated next to the Norwegian border on the same latitude as Stockholm.

 In 1680 in Kemi the courts handled a case where a man called Jouni Hannunpoika, a forest Sami, was prosecuted for doing harm to the fishermen of Kemi by fishing the waters in the Kierinki area. The first inhabitant registered in Kierinki in 1695 was Jöns Hansson (assumed to be Jouni Hannunpoika).

The first official inhabitants of Kierinki

In 1673 the Swedish king Karl XI declared Lapland to be settled. Anyone moving to Lapland was not applicable for conscription and also exempt from taxation for 15 years. His majesties second declaration emphasized the importance of cultivating the land and animal husbandry. The village’s first registered settler and farmer lived in Kierinki from 1718-1798. By the end of the 18th century there were already 4 registered farmhouses.

So, Kierinki’s first inhabitants, the forest Sami, had lived, unregistered, for many generations before the registered farming settlers arrived from other areas. In 1815 there were 21 registered inhabitants and from 1850 to the end of the century the number increased to about 200.


The first dwellings were only one-room chimneyless huts, about 3 x 3 metres, and the entrance was tepee-shaped. One of these structures was still inhabited in the 1920’s by the village’s midwife, healer and witch (1849-1928).

These chimneyless huts were generally not used after the 1850’s. In the surveyor’s report from 1845, there was mention of one house with windows and a woodstove. After that time, construction of the main building and the outbuildings generally formed a square along the properties’ perimeter, forming a type of courtyard in the middle. All buildings used logs that had been hand chopped to form straight walls, and the floor plans were often similar. Today we find several buildings with this original floor plan and courtyard in Kierinki.

The 20th century

At the beginning of the 20th century there was a general parcelling of the land and the farmers finally received proprietorship of the forests, and village life began to develop. Kierinki’s first and largest joint venture was a flourmill company and construction began in the spring of 1910. By December 1910 the construction was completed. The building was 20 metres in length with a sawmill on the upriver end and the flourmill on the downriver side, in addition, a shingle machine was also installed. A planning machine was purchased 1926-27 to help with the construction of the Kierinki school building.

The mill was a successful village industry until 1955, when the cooperative made the decision to abandon the industry. The mill burnt down on 30.06.1963.

In the background we see the Kierinki flourmill and sawmill industrial establishment. The construction period for all components took place between 1910-12. This industrial establishment was noteworthy and exceeds the comprehension of today’s generation, when taking into consideration the construction period and circumstances. The building supplies were transported all the way from Kemi, by horse. The road to Kierinki was built in the 1930’s. The village farmers constructed the building and the only external worker was the foreman. After the Second World War the mill provided services for a very large area, as it was the only mill in Lapland to have survived the scorched earth policy.                                                      

Picture and text by Kosti Vierelä, Lapin Kansa

After the mill burnt down, the planning machine continued to operate under a new company until they stopped operations in 1965.

The number of inhabitants in the village began to grow at the beginning of the 20th century and in 1945 there were 702 registered inhabitants. In 1967 there were approximately 500 people. During the 1960’s, large families moved to Lehmilehto in Kittilä municipality, due to a new settlement policy on government land. People also immigrated to Sweden in search of work. In 1982 there were 213 registered inhabitants in Kierinki and 2008 only 95, however, this number is not based on official documentation. In 2012 we estimate that there are 120 permanent inhabitants.

The Kierinki school

The farmer’s made a unanimous decision to establish a village school in 1914 and on 13.02.1914 a private primary school was established. In the constitutive meeting it was decided to hire a female grade school teacher and for the boys a woodwork teacher. It was decided that the school would open in October 1914. In the beginning the school worked from the Niemelä farmhouse and the students had to bring their own chairs. In the classroom, the teacher had a pedestal, blackboard, map rack and on the wall was a picture of the Grand Duke of Finland, Nicholas II of Russia.

A government decision, which granted support for the school, was received on October 18, 1914.

The local inhabitants, special subsidies and government support financed the school until 1926. And finally, in September 1927, a two-storey log school was completed. At that time there were 56 pupils, plus students continuing with further education.

The school kitchen was in operation from 1919. Each family volunteered for a one-week kitchen duty and also brought the firewood, to support the school’s operation. In 1934 the municipality finally took over the school kitchen operation and then only the children from poor families received free food.          

After the war in 1945 the number of students increased to 83. This was due to the destruction of other village schools. The school was too small to accommodate so many students and from 1951-1959 the Hietala farmhouse was also taken into use. In 1957 a new school building was constructed with 3 classrooms, a gymnasium, apartments for three teachers and a janitor, library, kitchen, central heating, running water and toilets. When the new school was opened there were 104 students. The school operated until 1994 and burnt to the ground in 2006.                      


Construction of the road to Kierinki

The Vaalajärvi-Meltaus road was constructed between 1920-30. Unfortunately the Kierinki village was 8 kilometres from that road.

In 1932 the people of the village decided to build the road with their own means. However, on 23.9.1932 the government granted 225 000 FIM, for the construction of a wilderness road to Kierinki with the condition that, any moneys exceeding the grant, must be paid by the local road users. The road was completed under budget by 3 203.80 FIM, in 1935. The excess money was kept for road maintenance.

The road was privately owned and maintained until 1964. In the same year the Jänisniva bridge was completed. This bridge connected the Kittilä municipal villages with Kierinki via a road network.

Jänisniva bridge 1964 (picture: Lapin Kansa)

The purchase of a radio and the history of the Kierinki sports club

The village formed a sports club and during their second meeting on 16.11.1931 they decided to buy a radio.  It was decided to place the radio in the village grocery store. Five designated users were chosen and the radio could not be turned on without one of them present. The radio was used Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays until 10 P.M. The listening time could be extended until midnight on Sundays, if there were people present.  

The sports club also concentrated on sports activities and the first track and field event was held in October 1935. The events included: 100 m sprint, triple jump, shot put, discus, long jump, javelin and high jump. The sports club was very active and the members competed in several track and field and skiing events in the neighbouring villages with good results.

For the youth of the village it was decided to build a clubhouse where they could arrange evening entertainment and dances. The decision was made on 17.11.1947 and funding was collected from the villagers. The clubhouse was built with voluntary labour and the wood was supplied from government land and cut at the local sawmill in 1948.

Around that time, the Lapland Regional Theatre toured and performed at the clubhouse and also movies were shown. The clubhouse got electricity in the 1950’s. The Kierinki sports club stopped operating in 1996 and the clubhouse was donated to the Kierinki village association.

Lapland’s first agricultural trade fair

The Kierinki farmer’s association was formed in 1914 and during the first years it concentrated on a wood working school for men. The women also attended cottage industry school in 1918. The following year the men attended blacksmith training. Three of the students became blacksmiths and Janne Martin later founded the world-renowned Marttiini knife factory in Rovaniemi.

In addition to the training courses the association started a retail cooperative, telephone network and an electrics cooperative.

In 1934 they founded a unit to further develop the women’s education. In the first year they arranged the farmer’s wives happening and in 1936, the men and women’s segments, in cooperation, arranged the first agricultural trade fair in Lapland.

With the profit from this event, the women’s segment purchased a mangle and the men purchased a grain-sorting machine.

In the beginning the association concentrated mostly on course activities and trying to improve the living standards of the village.

In 1950 the association held a bricklayer’s course and after that several barns were constructed in brick and cement. Due to the amount of equipment purchased, they were forced to build a storage warehouse.

In 1984 the men’s farmers association celebrated their 70th anniversary and the women’s segment their 50th and these were to be the last celebrations. The farmer’s association began to falter due to the lack of farming in the region in the 1980’s, but the women’s segment continued actively with courses, traditional food events and excursions until the association was dissolved.

On 17.1.1992 the association, in its entirety, was dissolved and all assets were given to the Kierinki village association.

This association played a large role in the development of the living standard of the people of Kierinki village for almost 80 years. The Kierinki village association has successfully continued honouring those traditions.

Teija Holopainen abridged the Finnish text on Kierinki history. The abridged text was re-abridged and translated by Lars and Airi Dohlen.

SOURCE: Kertomuksia Kieringistä, Kaarina Kumpula, Tornion Kirjapaino Ky, 2000


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