Untamed waters and fisherman´s dreams
The Finnish and Swedish sides of the river – called Muonionjoki in the north, mounding into the Tornionjoki or Torne river next to the village of Lappea - were once a cultural entity. Before the year of 1809 they were both parts of the Swedish Kingdom, as was the whole of Finland.
Like Kolari, many towns and villages were built around the river, and some of those were split in two when Finland was ceded to Russia after 1809. Each side of the river has become influenced by the majority cultures in their respective countries, but still retain some traditional elements. As an example, on the Swedish side of the Torne Valley one still makes types of food, such as rieska (a deliciously soft, white bread from potato flour), that are usually considered Finnish. There are still several villages that have the same name on the Swedish and Finnish sides of the river. The local dialect of Finnish, Torne Valley Finnish or Meänkieli (‘our language’), has today been acknowledged as a minority language in Sweden.
The people in Kolari see themselves as inhabitants of the Torne valley – to them, the river has never become a real border. As well as at the countless inland lakes and smaller rivers, there are excellent possibilities for fishing along this biggest untamed water body in Europe. The Tornionjoki with its migrating salmon and countless rapids, calm bays and easily accessible shores is - quite literally - a wet dream to every fishermen.
And if you end up at the other side, in Sweden, no harm is done. Just row back.