Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Finnish Labour Temple dressing room

An old black and white photo of actors prepping in the dressing room in the Finnish Labour Temple in Port Arthur, Ontario. The hall is now called the Finlandia Club and the city is now called Thunder Bay. I found this photo attached to a story about Childhood Memories (written by anonymous). As I was recently in the dressing room with the other members of the Northern Flikat drama troupe, getting ready for our play "The Old Woman and the Barefoot Maiden," I found this photo an interesting reflection on what the backstage dressing room used to look like.

The room is still there, except it is used as a board meeting room. Rather than this quaint round table with mirrors, there is a standard board room table, long and rectangular. That wooden cabinet in the corner is not there; there is a steel filing cabinet instead. The wooden closet doors running along the back of the room (seen in the right of the photo) are still there, full of junk.

I did not take a photo while we were scurrying around in the dressing room before our play, but here's a photo I found on the Finlandia Neighbourhood site, taken by TML:
photo 2009Copyright@TML


Black Pete said...

My wife's aunt Signe Halonen trod the boards of the Finlandia Club in the 1930s. She took up with a radical writer/playwright and left Port Arthur. I can't offhand remember his name, but hope to discover it sometime.

Signe was one of the three children accompanying their father, Joyce's grandfather, on a trip to North America to relocate to Copper Cliff, Ontario. Fortunately, they missed their boat--the RMS Titanic.

northshorewoman said...

Oh, that is so interesting, BP! I'd like to hear more about this history. Btw, did you get my message about Lilian, the new Anglican minister in town? I thought you might be interested to interview her. She's got some interesting things to say.

Risto Laakso said...

hi ,I am interested in that Signe Halonen.

Please send me info on her.

Risto Laakso

northshorewoman said...

Hello Risto,

I will pass your message to Black Pete and his wife; hopefully, they can send you more info!

Peter said...

I wish that I had more to say about Signe. There is a family legend that Signe (13 years old), her younger brother Kalervo, and infant sister Helen (my wife's mother), were to journey to Canada with their father David to rejoin their mother Emmi in Copper Cliff, Ontario, Canada.

Apparently, David left the young ones in Signe's charge in a hotel room in Southampton, England, while he did a last-minute pub crawl. He was late returning, so they missed their ship--the Titanic.

Signe worked as a domestic in an upper-class Toronto home, was impregnated by the son of her employers, and fled to Copper Cliff to rejoin her parents.She bore a boy, whom she named Toivo. It was perhaps at this time that she worked as an actress in Sudbury and Thunder Bay. Eventually, she and Toivo went to live in the United States, where she married and settled in Hibbing, Minnesota.

She died in the 1960s, I believe.

When I have more time at my disposal, I plan to search the archives of the Hoito/Finlandia building to see what they have on Signe.

northshorewoman said...

that is so interesting, Peter. Her story would make a great novel! What a life she lead. Imagine if the family had boarded the Titanic. Her fate, however, was not that tragedy, thank goodness.

I hope that Risto finds the info; maybe he is a distant relative?