This article focuses both on the lumberjacks of Finnish Lapland and
on the last hundred years of log floating in the Kemi River area. In 1950,
more than half of Finnish Lapland's rural male workforce was seasonally
occupied as floating and forestry workers. Logging camps were meeting places
for a heterogeneous group of men, many of whom were born beyond the borders
of Lapland, a large territory in itself. Men with a variety of social and
cultural backgrounds spent months in isolated logging camps in the wilderness
of Northern Finland. The background and character of lumberjacks
was so heterogeneous that a single portrait of them cannot be painted.
Instead, one must conceive of lumberjacks as viewed in a room full of mirrors
which constantly reflect a series of complex images.
The relationship between lumberjacks and the surrounding communities shifted over time. At the turn of the century, they were despised, but from the 1930s onward, lumberjack culture was accepted, even glorified. This article also analyzes the ways in which forest history helped to shape the identity of the inhabitants of modern Lapland.