Johannes Juhala.

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Photo and information shared below from Siiri Juhala Gallinger’s book, Memories Last a Lifetime: Finland, Ontario

An excerpt from Siiri’s book:

Originally my father, Ville Juhala, and his brother Johannes (Jani) immigrated from Karvia, Finland, Europe in 1910. 



They spent the first 2 years in Thunder Bay, Ontario (known then as Port Arthur) and then came to Finland, Ontario in 1912.

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They had a tough time for they had to learn to speak and write English, and even spell their names.  Uncle John found it easier to go by John Johnson so he changed his name to that as it was a more familiar name.  (*Note from Lainie: John Johnson was my great grandpa.  My last name could have been Juhala.  Instead my family went by Johnson.)

Canada needed immigrants and advertised promises that were great.  A lot of work, make money, land was cheap, get a homestead, build a 16′ x 20′ shack, clear some land and you had your home. 


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John (closest to the horses) in front of their home.


Uncle John Johnson had been able to buy a previously owned property with buildings on it.  It had a house and barn buildings, a big field that had been cleared, he did some more clearing himself, so was able to sow crops and hay for his livestock.  He loved his horses.  He did some farming, and along with his other work he also worked along with my dad logging and building log cabins for many years.  As brothers, they worked along together a lot. 

Uncle John was married to Elizabeth Luoma and they had a family of 3 boys and 9 girls.  [3 boys? I thought it was just grandpa and his 9 sisters.  What happened to the other two boys…].

He wasn’t a big man, and many years of hard work, took its toll on him.  He died in 1954 from bone cancer.

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Obituary provided by the Fort Frances Museum


Aunt Lizzie died 10 years later.  She had sold the property and her and the girls were living in Emo, Ontario at the time.  The older ones were married by then and had their own families. 

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The Johnson sisters.  Helen, Edna, Lila, Ellen, Lily (back row from left).  Irene, Hilda, Aino, Ruth (front row from left)

I remember being told that Grandpa Johnson had 9 sisters.  I only remember Aunt Aino (we called her Aunt Inie).  She lived in a little pink house in Emo.  I also remember Ruth.  She and her husband Joe, liked to go to the A&W in Fort Frances (it was the only place I ever saw them).



Siiri Juhala Gallinger’s book, Memories Last a Lifetime: Finland, Ontario


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Siiri Juhala Gallinger would be my Dad’s second cousin.  A few years ago, my parents heard about her book through family and were able to get a copy.  When I went home this summer, it was on my list of things to do (to read it and bring the copy home).

I loved seeing the old photos.  I’m a sucker for old black and whites.  I also learned a lot of new things that I’ll share with you over the next few posts.

To start, I didn’t know that my great grandpa Johnson died from cancer (and that our family even had any history of cancer at all).  This is important for us to know.

And the statement that John and Lizzie had 3 boys was really surprising.  After a few questions were asked, we learned a few family stories that had been kept quiet.  More on that soon.

I would also like to learn more about Great Grandpa Johnson’s brothers.  There were four brothers still living in Finland.  I wonder if his family still lives there.

It’s interesting how someone writes down a few stories, and years later, it’s helpful to someone they’ve never met.  That’s what I love about books.  You never know how they will impact someone’s life.

We think that our everyday stories aren’t interesting or important, but they are.  We need to write them.  For our families and for others who might be trying to piece together their own stories.


Note from Lainie:

Minutes after posting this, I decided to Google Siiri Gallinger’s name.  Maybe I could contact her to ask further questions or to find original copies of her photos.  This is what I learned…

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Siiri Sylvia Gallinger, 95, passed away peacefully with her granddaughter by her side on September 15, 2014 at the Rainy Crest Long Term Care, Fort Frances, Ont.

Siiri was born on May 10, 1919 in Finland, Ont to Willie and Annie Juhula. She grew up with her siblings in different logging camps that her father owned and operated. She spent her time helping with daily chores and taking care of her siblings.

Siiri was united in marriage to Percy Gallinger on Dec 2, 1939. She was a loving daughter, wife, sister, mother, grandmother and great grandmother.

Along with raising her family and working on the farm she took part in numerous activities, such as volunteering for the Canadian Cancer Society, numeration, 4H homemaker leader and many other organizations.

After retirement Siiri became an author and also travelled back to the birth place of her parents in Finland. One of her greatest memories she often talked about was when she went to Finland with her granddaughter Sandra.

Siiri was predeceased by her parents Willie and Annie Juhala, husband Percy, her daughter Leona Gallinger and her sisters, Esther, Aili (Aileen), brother Hugo, brothers in law Dave Brown, Garnet (Rachel) Gallinger and son in law Roy DeLaronde and daughter in law Edith Gallinger.

Siiri will be missed by her children Elaine, George( Sylvia), Donelda and Murray (Christine), her grandchildren Robert (Connie), Kevin (Leanne), Sandra (Robert), Troy (Sandra), Murray (Sonny), Mason (Carly), Mathew, Mitchell( Brady), great grandchildren Jeremy, Alex, Dani, Kalyn, Jeremy, Jason, Jordan, Geneva, Clare, Brady.

She is also survived by her sister in law Jean and numerous nieces and nephews.

A graveside service will be held on Friday September 19, 2014 at 1 p.m. at the Finland Cemetery. A reception will follow at 2 p.m. at the Northridge Funeral Home, Emo, Ont. Mr. Sonny Ferris officiating.

If desired memorial donations may be made to the Tamarack House or the Canadian Cancer Northwestern Region (Daffodil Society), c/o Northridge Funeral Home, box 89, Emo, Ontario, P0W 1E0.

I’m so glad that she wrote her book.

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