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Our Story

First a little history

Seppo's forefathers were the first to settle in this part of the wilderness in 1733. As many pioneers had done before, they made their way along a river and found a suitable spot to settle. They chose a place they called Nampa. This was some 70 kms up-stream from the trading post and farming settlements of Rovaniemi, which in those days consisted of around 50 houses and a church. These were built on a river peninsula at the confluence of the river Ounasjoki with the river Kemijoki, Finland's longest river. Because of it's favourable position it had been a popular place to live since the stone age. By the mid-1500's, a small population of about 200 people lived there, which included migrants from different indigenous Finnic tribes. From Rovaniemi, the Kemijoki flowed another 120 kms down to the town of Kemi on the Gulf of Bothnia.

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In 1839 a road weaving inland from Kemi up to Rovaniemi was completed, and as a result, trading in furs and salmon boomed. Kemi had been established in the early Middle Ages on the coastal road around the Gulf of Bothnia, which was an important trading route. Since there were still no shops in Rovaniemi, trading was mainly carried out by merchant-men and peddlers in transit from Kemi, Tornio, Oulu and beyond. Ten years on and encouraged by the trade and the abundant natural resources of the north, the road building continued upwards from Rovaniemi. It first made its way north-east to Vikajärvi, then turned north and eventually caught up with Seppo's ancestors. From here the road continued slowly onwards to a small settlement called Sodankylä, closely following the rivers that cut through the wilderness. It eventually reached the Arctic Ocean in the 1920's and became known as the Arctic Ocean Passage.

Korvala's homestead was established in 1889 north of Nampa near Käyrästunturi fell, at an ideal location next to this new northbound road by the shores of Korvalampi lake and the Raudanjoki river, another of Kemijoki's tributaries. It soon became an inn, known as a 'kestikievari' in Finnish, accommodating government officials, lumberjacks, and other intrepid voyagers. In those days, inns were located approximately 10 kms apart, and travellers walked, skied or rode in horse-drawn sleighs and carts, often driven by the owners of each inn along the way. Korvalan Kestikievari is the only inn in the region to have stayed in operation since those early days, so has been welcoming guests for over a hundred years, offering food and a place to sleep for those on their travels. Seppo recalls how his grandmother used to smoke her pipe and watch the horses work alongside the latest modernization, the tractor, remeniscing about those early days before the modern world caught up with the people living in this remote corner of Europe.

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Nowadays...

...our accommodation is in cosy, self-catering log cabins. There are also many outdoor activities and tours available for travellers to fill their days in both summer and winter: for example, hiking, fishing and canoeing in summer, and cross-country skiing, snowshoe hiking and ice-fishing in winter. For the more adventurous there are husky-sledding and snowmobile tours  - details are on our activity pages.

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