Thursday, May 7, 2009

Finlandia Beach Club

Time for a bit of Finnish Americana. The Finlanders were big on cooperation. Finlandia Beach is a remnant of the glory days when Finlander cooperative stores were a major player in retail business in the Old Northwest.

The Finn Co-ops are long gone, the victims of an improved highway system which facilitated easy travel to larger towns with larger stores. Although its founding Co-op folded years ago, the Finlandia Beach Club is still very much alive.

I'm not too sure on its actual history, its rules of operation or just how open its membership is, I just know its still there. My aunt has been a member for as long as I can remember. I'm guessing that in exchange for a nominal annual fee plus a bit of volunteer labor, the members receive the right to use the facilities.

It's nothing fancy. A few cabins, a main building, an excellent sauna, and access to the lake. The Finnish dream, fulfilled in the U.S.A, decades before the average Finnish worker even dreamed of a having cabin by a lake. The principal of cooperation at work.

A view of the main building, which houses a kitchen and dining hall.

Front door of the main building.

Another view of the main building, with the lake in the background.

The cabins.

The sauna building. Two separate saunas with 2 dressing rooms each to facilitate efficient use by four families at a time.

The stoves of the two saunas are fired from this room.

This photo needs no caption.

A mountain ash (pihlaja) in the yard. Traditionally, the pihlaja was planted in Finnish yards to bring good fortune. This tradition crossed the water and is noticeable yet today on old Finlander farmsteads in the U.S. and Canada.

Finlander pride surfaces in a variety of ways.


  1. That shows lots of sense of humour.

    As to the mountain ash, Poles also believe that it brings good fortune and you can see it planted at every corner. In addition to this, it looks very pretty in autumn.

  2. I believe the membership requirements are: you must live in Carlton County and pay the fee.

    Looks like Good ol' Finlandia has been spruced up a bit since I was there last!