Hoito [Redux]

My late grandmother Nettie worked here. She was not Finnish. Neither am I. Nonetheless.

Talking to my mother this morning, I was reminded that Nettie once told me that to be allowed to become an employee there, she had to join the Finnish Communist Party. I’m fairly confident that this would be considered illegal today. Mom also was pretty sure that it’s in the Hoito where Nettie met my late grandfather Daniel Rukavina.

Which, in turn, reminded me of a song I wrote once, during those days when I sat on the back porch and wrote songs.

Middle of the 30s, 1936
He was mining gold way up in the sticks
She was waiting tables at the Hoito
25 cents for a meal, dontcha know

Nettie and Dan, Nettie and Dan
Oh they loved each other as much as anyone can…

The Hoito is in the same building as the Finnish Labour Temple. You don’t hear a lot about Labour Temples these days, but the way Nettie characterized them was a place where you went on Sundays if you were left of centre and irreligious. She used to talk about sitting on Sunday mornings at the front window of her house with her sister snickering at the Orthodox Catholics carrying their bread to church. Later they would go to the Labour Temple and play the mandolin.

We come by our iconoclasm honestly, in other words.

Mom and Dad and brother Steve are going to stop at the Hoito for lunch on their way from Saskatoon to Carlisle in early November. They’re moving Steve’s Life Stuff cross-country so he can start a new life as a Montrealer.

They’re also going to stop in Cochrane, which is Mom’s birthplace, and, I discover almost every day, home to most of the North Americans of consequence born during the twentieth century.


Kevin D's picture
Kevin D on October 10, 2002 - 21:11 Permalink

I had a chance to visit a friend and his wife in Turku, Finland in 1999. Finnish food was pretty unremarkable. Too much pickled fish for my tastes. A cold, beet salad was pretty common and very good. I forget the name but I haven’t found it anywhere else. The oddest thing I remember is that they sell as much ice cream in the winter as the summer. It wasn’t out of the ordinary to see people trudging through snow enjoying a cone.