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The history of Tankar

Born from the sea

The island of Tankar, Kokkola’s maritime gateway, has for centuries offered protection to the fishermen and seal hunters of the coastline as well as guided seafarers safely into Kokkola harbour. Having risen from the seabed during the 13th century as a result of geological uplift, the islet, which had been established as a base for fishermen and seal hunters in the 16th century received an early seamark to distinguish it. A stone mound was erected as a guide for seafarers, and to improve its visibility barrels were attached to the ends of metal poles. As a result of the seamark the island, previously known as Klippan (“the Rock” in Swedish), came to be called Tankokari (Finnish for “Pole Rock”) and this is the basis for the modern name, Tankar.

Due to their reefed dangerous lanes, the shoals in the approach to Kokkola made the approach to the city harbour diffi cult for large vessels. As vessels increased in size the city’s burghers had to employ a pilot for the safety of both approaching and departing vessels. Tankar was established as a natural piloting base.

During the mid 19th century the pilots were transferred to the service of the State. When the lighthouse, which is still in use, was fi nished in 1889, and a separate staff was needed for its operation, two busy communities were established on the island: on the greener southern end there were the fi shermen and the desolate north belonged to the State.

Tankar can tell a thousand tales

The painted cabins of the Lighthouse and Piloting Communities sprang up around the lighthouse on the north of the island. The fi shing village around the sheltered harbour on the eastern coast evokes the lifestyle of the Baltic herring fi shermen and their families who lived there during the summer. The salty aroma, the fi shermen’s cabins now grey after centuries of exposure to the sea winds as well the traditional sealing paraphernalia on the cabins’ walls and in the island’s sealing museum all hark back to a time when eking a living from the sea was not only hard but frequently dangerous too.

The distance of almost 20 km (approx 12 miles) to the city afforded Tankar’s residents a certain freedom but also required its own rules from the Fishing Community. On Tankar order was maintained by the harbour pilot and Rock meeting (karikokous), which upheld the harbour regulations for the kingdom’s fi shing places set down by the King of Sweden in 1726. As well the Crown, the Church also directed life on Tankar. When it was realised that the journey to Kaarlela church was an unreasonable undertaking for the islanders, a church was erected on Tankar in 1754 where the parish’s assistant priest held services during the summer months.

Tankar today

Today’s Tankar is a diverse destination for tourists, offering unforgettable experiences of nature and samples of the old archipelago lifestyle to the visitor.

The charming archipelago village is comprised of the old fishermen’s cabins and the café and guest cabins located among them, with the church dominating from its own rock. The sealing museum presents the old hunting culture of the coast and the Lighthouse Community shows the life of the lighthouse keepers’ families.

A visit to the island’s church is truly arresting. Even today, the cramped pews decorated with the fi shermen’s initials and the old church art inspire devotion and humility in the visitor. Tankar is the most northerly wooded island in the Kokkola-Pietarsaari archipelago, and its surface area increases and its vegetation changes continually as the land rises from the sea. The island’s location adds a particular maritime stamp to its nature, which is coloured by its diverse flora as well as the numerous bird species which are permanently resident or migratory.

Tankar offers an evocative night’s stay in the Tankar Inn in the pilot station, in the old Lighthouse Master’s and Keepers’ cabins as well as the guest cabin in the fishing village so typical of the archipelago.

And above all pulses the lighthouse´s beam, the heart of Tankar.

”To me, Tankar is like paradise: a desolate island with its sea-buckthorn berries, a whole cluster of small cabins and jetties, the lighthouse, the piloting station – and floating over all this the smell of salt, drawing one’s thought to the bottomless richness of the Gulf of Bothnia.” Erla Hovilainen, 1945)

Elämää Tankarissa - luotsit työssään

Tankarin majakka kuvattuna 1895

Muistolaatan paljastustilaisuus 1932

Seurue retkellä

Elämää Tankarissa

Tekstisi tulee tähän.
Tankarin vanha panorama

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