Friday, October 9, 2009

vintage photo of the women of Hoito

Vintage photo of female workers outside the front of Hoito Restaurant. It looks like a summer or a beautiful sunny fall or spring day. The women, I am guessing from their clothing, all work either in the kitchen of the Hoito or perhaps as servers. They not only all wear crisp white aprons, they even have the same bob hairdo! Maybe the two women on the far right are the head cook and assistant? There strong arms and big hands tell me they mean business. The woman on the left in black--who is she? I don't have any information about this photo but perhaps she is the manager of the restaurant?

Regardless, all the women workers belonged to a union, a powerful union.

What year was this photo taken, by whom and for what reason? Can we tell what year from the hairdos? Maybe it is the 1920s-1930s? It was before sneakers were standard foot wear as all the women are wearing flats. The building was built and open to the public in March 1910. The Hoito Restaurant was opened in 1918, but I can't remember what year the front of the building was changed

to accommodate a front entrance to the Hoito. [photo above also from the Thunder Bay Finnish Canadian Historical Society online archive]

In the photo of the female Hoito workers standing out front, a group of people stands in the back on the stairs leading up to the Finnish Labour Temple, watching the photo being taken. The stairs are different today so whenever this photo was snapped, it was before renovations to the stairs, when the Labour Temple looked like this; so, it was before front stairs leading down into the Hoito were put in.

The sign in the background says, in Finnish, Ainoa Kuluttajien Omistama Ruokala Kaupungissa, which translates roughly to The Only Co-operative Restaurant in Town, although "kuluttajien omistama" translates more literally to 'those who use it, own it".

In 1926, J.A. McDonald, organizer of the IWW [Industrial Workers of the World union] visited the Hoito and Finnish Labour Temple. "One of the IWW's most important contributions to the labor movement and broader push towards social justice was that, when founded, it was the only American union (Besides the Knights of Labor) to welcome all workers including women, immigrants, and African Americans into the same organization." The same Wiki page tells us that for several years, the Finnish Labour Temple served as the IWW Canadian administration, and that many of the immigrants who belonged to the union were Finns. When J.A. McDonald visited in 1926:

"it was the activities of the women that he was most impressed by. According to McDonald all the waitresses were members of the IWW, and one of the cooks was a woman who had served a year in a Finnish prison for her activities on behalf of the Reds during the Finnish Revolution of 1918."

The original photo of the women of Hoito is from the online photo archives of the Thunder Bay Finnish Canadian Historical Society; the digitally enhanced photo that you see above was done by my sister, Katja Maki.

On Sunday, Oct 18 from 1 pm - 5pm. the TBFCHS is holding its AGM, which includes a film screening and a social; everyone is welcome. It is held at Suomi Koti, which is off of Wardrope Ave. See more info on their homepage.


marja-leena said...

Interesting history, of which I only knew a little, such as the workers' union. Thanks for this! I remember visiting the Hoito sometime in the 60's.

Merche Pallarés said...

I will visit Hoito if it's the last thing I do in my life! Very interesting post.
I'll try again and see if I can enter Marja-Leena's blog. Hugs, M.

Merche Pallarés said...

OK, I tried. I saw that she's Finnish-Canadian, I saw a thumb and that was it. The mouse didn't move. Hugs, M.

northshorewoman said...

ML and MP, there is a lot of history in that old building and I think we only know a fraction of it...if walls could talk!

those front doors have been photographed many times ...with other people in front of's a very touristy thing to do these days.