Minda Leeoniemi came to Maple Ridge from Finland in 1912. She had travelled by boat to Quebec, and then by train all the way into Webster’s Corners. Minda had been working as a seamstress since she was 13 years old in Finland, and arrived as a valuable addition to the community. Up until the time of her arrival, there was no one available to provide services such as these.
When she first arrived she did not know any English, so communicating was hard for her. She said that there were two kinds of English – proper English and kitchen English. She said she had the latter.
Volho Katainen married Minda in January of 1916, and the wedding celebration was the first to be held in the new Sampo Hall. After the wedding, they built a small house on the hill in Webster’s Corners and lived there until they built a new and bigger log house on what is now 125th Ave.
Volho was a logger for many years, then became a chicken and cow farmer. Minda recalled that they got 10 cents a quart when they sold the milk. One of the highlights of their lives was buying their first car in 1926.
Volho and Minda had five children; Bill, Tenho, Viola, Helmi and Violet.
In some Finnish families, they lived in their sauna until a house was built. But for the Katainen family, this was not necessary, as their neighbours provided the sauna. It was customary for families without a sauna to just go to a neighbour’s or friend’s sauna for the weekly bath. The Katainen family sauna was built in 1926.
In her later years, Violet became the family historian and with contributions from Viola and Helmi, also collected and wrote a history of the Finnish community at Webster’s Corners for the 1972 publication by the Maple Ridge University Women’s Club, “Maple Ridge: A History of Settlement”.
Through her efforts, we have an extensive collection of photos and stories at the Maple Ridge community archives. If you want access to more, please contact us.