-- SWEDISH OUTPOST IN THE NORTH
village in lower Korplax at one time teemed with farmers and fishermen.
Today most of Friis' residents are commuters. Each day they take the
road between work in the city and their home village of Friis, northern
Österbotten's Swedish outpost.
begins at the corner of Margareta Finnilä-Huhta's house and stretches
out along a meandering gravel road down to the sea. But Friis is no
large village. The houses along the road are only 12 in number and
after a few kilometers there is Puotiniemi and Finnish Finland nearby.
Until several years ago the majority of Friis' residents were Swedish
speaking but today Finnish dominates.
is the last Swedish outpost here in northern Österbotten. To
the north about 10 kilometers one comes to an entirely Finnish speaking
area, said Margareta Finnilä-Huhta, and pointed toward the spruce
forest. Most of those who live here now are city residents in exile
who prefer country life before city life. But young families have
also come here. Margareta came to Friis in 1961 and worked as a midwife
and public health care-giver until she retired. It is at her house
where our journey through Friis begins.
village founder and pride is without hesitation Corporal Lars Friis
who served the Swedish Crown in the 1700's and in 1723 settled down
in this place that 100 years later bears his name. And next door to
the Corporal's old house lives a 7th generation Friis, his namesake
Lars Friis. It is to this house we steer our course today.
Friis was born in Sweden April 1696 and died in 1768. Not much is
known about his life and way of living. His origin is unknown but
in the beginning of the 1700's the name Lars Friis appeared in the
Swedish military archives. In November 1717 he was registered as a
volunteer with Wästerbotten's Regiment but by 1718 he had advanced
to Corporal and Grenadier Staff Sergeant. He was registered later
in 1721 as Corporal with the Umeå Company.
village is living proof that he came to Finland, but for what errand
he came here is disputed. In a family book of the Friis family, the
writer Emma Pulkkis asserts that Lars Friis was sent to Finland as
a spy during the Swedish-Russian war's final stage and that in 1722
he left the military for good. Margareta Finnilä-Huhta does not
place much confidence in that theory. She said, "We know for a certainty
that in the beginning of the 1720's, in the time of Anders
Chydenius, Lars Friis lived in this area. He lived in Haukilax
earlier and later he lived in Wisur and Hilli before he ended up at
several dusty kilometers Margareta pointed out a large red wooden
the trees. We are in front of it. There you see the Corporal's house
and in front of the yard in that white brick house lives another Lars
Friis lives in a bit of paradise. He has lived all his life in Friis
and has never visited outside the village for any long period, with
the exception of the years at the front in Svir and Tienhaara. For
30 years he and his wife Elisabeth carried on the family's farming
tradition before they retired. "This is without a doubt the most beautiful
place in Karleby. I can not under any circumstances think of moving
50 meters behind Lasse Friis own white house stands the old farm house
waiting for renovating. To go to this red house we were forced to
plough through a field of waving golden sunflowers. "My daughter's
daughter used to pull up these sunflowers by the roots but she is
now in Chicago in America, so therefore the flowers have grown freely."
Friis farm has stood empty since the middle of the 1970's when Lasse
and Elisabeth moved out. "The place is peaceful and when one daughter
saw that she thought she could move next to us and begin to repair
it. The roof blew away in an autumn storm so I repaired it ten years
ago and now we have a new stone foundation under the place." In front
of the house is a memorial stone or, in fact, a memorial plaque about
Corporal Lars Friis that the Friis Family Society had set in a massive
block at the close of the1940's.
for City Residents
Friis' farm is the last along the road to Friis. After his house comes
Puoti-niemi with its archipelago and summer cottages. Rafael has also
lived in Friis his entire life. On Tuesdays he is found at his fox
farm with his sons Kaj and Tony. They also agree that it is good to
live in Friis. Although the bus does not drive along Friis road, they
have everything they need and more.
is a fine place to live, but we have to see later when the day comes
to vote on EU if it is still the place to live. Everything hangs on
EU and if we go with it or not, look out!" Rafael thinks they shall
move sometime. One son's company will move to Spain this autumn. Son
Tony has been able to see a great part of the world. "I worked for
a time for the travel company Spies in Copenhagen and it is possible
there will be something similar in the future. But this autumn I begin
to study in Vasa to be a teacher."
we drove back to where we started, Margareta suggested that we visit
the summer cottages. City residents have taken a part of Friis and
have built identical small houses along a few roads in the woods.
Quite a nice miniature community in other words.
Sillanpää, who has lived in his cottage the entire summer,
planted trees and bushes around the parking area and said there are
63 small vacant sites in the area. An idyll for city residents who
will be able to drive down green fingers in the dark and moist ground.
by June Pelo