Members of Board of Directors have produced a number of films and videos on the Finnish-Canadian experience or on related topics involving Canada and Finland. If you enjoy any of these films, please feel free to contribute to the Friends of the Finnish Labour Temple so that we can support the continued production of audio/visual materials of this nature.

Under the Red Star

Under the Red Star (Director – Kelly Saxberg, 2011) is a feature-length docu-drama about Finnish immigration and settlement in Northwestern Ontario. This film tells the story of the cultural and political ferment centred around Port Arthur’s Finnish Labour Temple. The film chronicles the story of the Finnish immigrants who built Canada’s largest labour hall and used it as a centre for their activities. The courage of these newcomers in the face of government and police crackdowns helped shape Canadian labour history. Under the Red Star melds fictionalized scenes with archival footage and photos to vividly recreate the lives and passions of these early twentieth-century activists.

Pulp Friction

Pulp Friction (Director – Ron Harpelle, 2014) a one-hour documentary funded by an SSHRC Outreach Grant. It looks at the changing fortunes of three communities; Kemijärvi Finland, Terrace Bay, Ontario and Piedras Coloradas, Uruguay. The content is in English, Spanish and Finnish. 

Letters From Karelia

Letters From Karelia (Director – Kelly Saxberg, 2004) is a national Film Board of Canada feature length documentary on the migration of Finnish-Canadians from Thunder Bay and elsewhere to Soviet Karelia in the early 1930s.

Taimi Pitkanen last saw her brother Aate in a Leningrad railway station in 1931. Taimi was returning to Canada from Moscow; Aate was headed for Soviet Karelia, on the border with Finland, where his skills in electricity and languages – both English and Finnish – were badly needed. Aate never came back. Even when the dream went sour, Aate held on, writing home until, in 1941, Hitler attacked the USSR. After that, no one in Canada heard anything more of Aate Pitkanen. Sixty years later, the discovery of his last letters – written but never mailed from a Finnish prisoner-of-war camp – reveals his fate and brings together Taimi and Alfred, the son Aate never met. Visiting Taimi in Canada, Alfred Pitkanen learns the dramatic story of his father’s Canadian family and of “Karelia Fever,” the enthusiasm that gripped so many Finnish Canadians in the 1930s. Almost forgotten now, it lured thousands to a tragic fate in the Soviet Union. Alfred follows his father’s journey from Thunder Bay, Ontario, to Karelia, from young communist pioneer to ski champion of the USSR to Soviet spy. With him we learn Aate’s fate and the story of one of the great dreams of the twentieth century.

Bottoms Up!

Bottoms up! (Director – Kelly Saxberg, 2005) is a video made to raise funds to support the Heritage Building Fund which raised money to refurbish the Finnish Labour Temple. The film stars Thunder Bay’s own Ivanka (Jo- Ann Waytowich) and Marc Metsaranta. Construction began in 2010 and finished in 2014. It screened several times during the 1st Annual Bay Street Film Festival which donated over S2000.00 from silver platter collection.

 The Hoito Project

The Hoito Project (Director – Kelly Saxberg, 2006) was a DVD/CD fundraiser collection to help restore the Finnish Labour Temple on Bay Street in Thunder Bay. This one hour compilation DVD features local musicians who recorded with Finnish guitarist Jukka Tolonen and his band, Cool Train, when they came to Thunder Bay in 2006.

This CD was created as a special fund raising project in aid of the Finnish Labour Temple restoration initiative.
This special fund raising project could not have happened without help from the following: Shebandowan Films, RealTV Realty Inc., Finlandia Club of Port Arthur, Danalog Studios, Akbazar Oy,

Included on the CD are:

Finnish Pancake Jam batter by Ari Lahdekorpi
baked by Jukka Tolonen & Cool Train
The Finnish Labour Temple Rumba Written by Esteban Figueroa
Performed by Esteban Figueroa and Jukka Tolonen
Kesa (Summer) Written By Kim Erickson
Performed by Kim Erickson and Cool Train
Arrangement by Cool Train
The Finnish Labour Temple Song
Written by Rodney Brown
Performed by Rodney Brown and Cool Train
Arrangement by Cool Train
Fortunately Someone
Written by Danny Johnson
Performed by Danny Johnson and Cool Train
Laulu Written by Feodor Pratsu
Arranged and Performed by the Jouhiorkesteri
Soloist: Pekko Kappi
The Hoito Project CD was produced by Ari Lahdekorpi
Recorded by Danny Johnson at Danalog Studios
Mixed by Danny Johnson
Additional instrumentation by Ari Lahdekorpi and Danny Johnson

Who was Sylvia?

Who was Sylvia? (Director – Kelly Saxberg, 2012) is a short film directed by Kelly Saxberg and made by the Flash Frame Film and Video Network as part of International Documentary Challenge. It tells the story of letters and photos found in an abandoned log cabin belonging to Finnish immigrants.

Volunteers Make a Life Better 

Volunteers Make Life Better (Director – Ron Harpelle, 2012) is a short publicity spot to support the volunteers who make the activities of the Friends of the Finnish Labour Temple possible. It stars Jari Sarkka, a friend of the Finnish Labour Temple who passed away in 2013.