Land of the Writer

Haikola is located 40 km east of Kalevala on the island of Luotosaari on Lake Haikola. The village itself was formed at the end of the 18 th century. In 1905, it was included in the Ukhta district of Arkhangelsk Karelia within the Luusalma community and was named Gaikola (Euhkola). The village consisted of 11 houses, and there were 102 inhabitants. Now there are less. But even with so few inhabitants, there are four monuments of history and culture.Besides, the unique scenery of the region in itself is a point of interest. Haikola is an island that has become a peninsula. Currently the island can be reached partly by boat and partly on foot.

The village is also known for its rune singers. During various periods, there lived and sang such people as Euhkon Kalaska, Kalaskan Vaske, Karpan Muarie, Simana Stepanov, Ohvo Stepanov, Miihkali Stepanov, Stepanie Kuzmina, and Tatiana Bogdanova.

But most of all, Haikola is known in Karelia and the whole Finno-Ugric world for its connection with the life and art of the national Karelian writer Ortje (Artem) Stepanov.

Artem Mikhailovich Stepanov was born in the village of Haikola in 1920. Fairy tales and runes were a part of life in the Stepanov family. Kalaskon Vaske (Koloshko Vaske), the great-great-grandfather of Ortje Stepanov, was a famous rune singer. Miikhkali Stepanov, the father of the writer, also wrote down many runes.

Stepanov wrote many books in his native Karelian language, which were later translated not only into Russian, but into many other languages as well. They have been published in many countries around the world. However, the greatest popularity was gained by the Karelian saga, Rodichi, which consisted of 6 novels describing life in White Karelia from the 1920 ’s through the 60 ’s. The writer portrayed the life of Karelians so faithfully that he is considered a classic not only of Karelian, but also of Finnish literature. His works are studied in many universities in the neighbouring country of Finland.

A comprehensive exhibition covering the whole village helps visitors to Haikola delve into the life and traditions of the northern Karelians.

The family homestead of Ortje Stepanov where he was born and raised has been turned into a museum of writers including Ortje Stepanov, Jaakko Rugoev, Nikolai Jakkola, Antti Timonen, Pekka Perttu, and Nikolai Laine. Here their works and academic publications about their work have been gathered. You can also view documentaries about the writers or listen to the writers reading from their works.

Close to the village is Beacon Hill, part of a system of observation points used at the time of Swedish War.From here came the first settler of Haikola.

Not far from the village are defences from the time of WWII made by the guerrillas who were based here. Two famous writers, Pekka Perttu and Jaakko Rugoev, fought in one of the five guerrilla companies.

In the museum of the literary hero old man Ontto, you can see interior items from an old house. Several of these belonged to the owner of the house, Illyan Ortje, who became the prototype for old man Ontto. The exhibitions here offer pictures and illustrated pages from the works of writers.

«Our village is not that old. Not even two hundred years yet.It was founded by the people who settled in Tuhkasenvaara. A tower was built there, and the place was called Tornivaara. But before an old man and his wife lived there. They had a son and three daughters. The elderly man was very religious. And once on a remembrance Sunday, he was on his knees before the icons and prayed, bowing low and crossing himself.Suddenly he looked out the window, and behold, a bear was there… Outside the window there was a heap of large rocks piled there when the field was cleared. So then, the bear had laid its paw on those rocks and was looking at the old man. According to the prayer beads, the prayers were not over yet, and the old man could not stop them. Thus he paid no attention to the bear and kept on bowing and muttering the customary words to entrust to God all the treasures of his soul. When the old man had said everything to the Lord, he stood up from his knees and looked out the window, but the bear was still there! And it keeps on looking so attentively, as if understanding everything. The old man became angry, grabbed his Berdan rifle to shoot the bear! While he prepared his harquebus, the bear took to its heels and made off; only showings its hindquarters to the old man. Thus he said to his wife: «If the dogs did not bark at the bear, it is not a good sign. «Last summer, obviously, the same beast had taken their cow. At least the calf was near the house in the enclosure and was saved… The old couple sat thus and wondered what they were to do, how to go on. «It seems that we will have to move to Luotosaari, „eventually decided the old man. Earlier our village was called Luotosaari. There the old man lived for some time, for as many years as were allotted to him, and then died. His son Eouhko buried his father in the fir grove where the cemetery was earlier. But from this Eouhko whole our family, even the whole village was descended…“

Ortje Stepanov, «Rodichi»