Welcome - Tervetuloa - Välkommen !
Torsby Finnkulturcentrum (The Finnculture centre of Torsby or the TFC) is a research and information-centre about the Forest-Finns of northern Värmland. In this area a Finnish minority-culture existed up to our times, a culture that kept it´s language, the Savolax-dialect, myths and folk-tales, the different types of smoke-houses etc. for 350 years.
The last smoke-houses were moved out of in the 1960´s and the dialect has persisted until modern times. The last persons , who spoke this fluently (with ancient traits of 17th century-Finnish) died in the end of the 1970´s. Today a few thousand place-names (mountains, creeks, small lakes etc.) and a few Finnish words are kept in the local Swedish dialect. But as late as in the 1890´s Finnish was used as the everyday-language in many of the villages and homesteads in the northern and western parts of this area, which also include parts of the neighboring districts of Norway.
Today we call this area the Finn-forest (or the Finn-country) and the people , who once lived there, the Forest-Finns. This Finn-forest (there were once many, scattered across Mid-Sweden and eastern Norway) is the last surviving resort of the the migrating Savolax swidden-burning farmers who first migrated to Sweden (Finland and Sweden were at that time one country), or as it was called the western part of the kingdom, in the 16th and 17th century. With them they brought their knowledge and skills of the swidden-culture, i.e. the burning of forests and sowing swidden-rye into the ashes, a technique that opened up the vast, little used evergreen-forests of Mid-Sweden and eastern Norway for settling.
Forest Finns in America. Eventually this colonization continued into the New World. A large percentage of the population of New Sweden in the Delaware valley were Forest Finns from Värmland and Dalarna. See more information here: http://www.genealogia.fi/emi/art/index4e.htm and also on the website of the Swedish Colonial Society http://www.colonialswedes.org/History/History.html
The FinnForest area is rich with cultural remains, there are 30-40 of the famous smoke-houses still intact, 10 of these are still standing in the original places in the forest, a few of them are open for visitors and tourists in summertime, others have been moved to homestead-museums. In many archives and libraries all over Scandinavia there are huge collections of objects, tape-recordings, photos, chronicles and articles of myths, tales and stories of the Forest-Finnish culture and history. Many Finnish and Swedish researchers investigated the area in the late 19th and early 20th century. Carl-Axel Gottlund "the apostle of the Finn-forest" travelled here as early as the 1820´s and wrote long diaries of his journeys, which are published in modern versions, giving wonderful and valuable insights of the early 19th century culture of the Forest-Finns.
The TFC has a large library, archives and documentations and the exhibition "Niittaho-the flowering swidden-meadows" and it is our responsiblity to inform and also document and research this culture, that has been such an important factor of the settling and populating of Northern Värmland.
At the centre you can also study church-records and books in our genealogy-department, listen to lectures, music, investigate our many videos and CD-roms (most in Swedish but a few in Finnish and English) or just grab a snack or a coffee in our summer-café. The TFC is open all year, in the summertime every day, the rest of the year Tuesday to Saturday. Our guides speak English, German and Finnish.
On the map above you can find a few of the Finnish homesteads ("finngård" in Swedish) that are open for visits in the summertime and which have intact smoke-houses and other old buildings of interest. For information about the homesteads in Swedish, English and German click here and download a pdf-file.
Interesting? Like to know more?!
If you want to know more about the history and culture of the Forest-Finns, open or download a pdf-file here (in English).
Play the kantele!
Have you heard about the kantele - the Karelian ancient stringed instrument that used to accompany the songs and runes of the Kalevala? If you would like to try and play it click here . You need to download Shockwave (here) first, then use your numbers on the keyboard (1-5). Good luck! This example is from our CD-Rom "The Finnforest" (so far only in Swedish and Finnish).
The TFC is run and financed by the provincemuseum of Värmland and the municipality of Torsby.
Please phone or mail for broschures, visits or other questions.(see below)
The map above shows the large municipality (almost a county, the Swedish word is "kommun") of Torsby. As you can see the village of Torsby (where the TFC is situated) is in the southern part of the area. The Finn-forest is situated in the western and north-western parts of the map, most of it adjacent to and also crossing over the Norwegian border (the thick red line to the left). Nowadays it is a sparsely inhabitated area with small villages and farms surrounded by vast forests, bogs and high mountains. The economy is mostly based on logging and saw-mills with a few other industries in the larger villages. The tourist-industry is also important with good facilities for cross-country and down-hill skiing in the wintertime and excellent fishing and other wild-life activities all year round. All the larger mammals of northern Sweden are to be found in the forest, such as wolf, bear, lynx and moose.
To download our colour - brochure (only in Swedish but with some beautifuld old photos)) about our permanent exhibition "Niittaho..." click (You need Adobe Acrobat) and print it.
685 80 TORSBY
Telephone: 0560-162 93