Maritime Ostrobothnia

Maritime logotype
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Saltwater and Sawdust

The sea has played an important role in Ostrobothnian life for a long time. From as long ago as the earliest peasant sailing, the locals here have found important sources of income at the shipyards and on board the cargo boats. The local farmers earned money from shipbuilding timber, got a better market for their farm products and woodwork, and also profited from their involvement in the shipping industry. The towns and cities that were founded around the largest harbours grew and prospered.

The golden era of Ostrobothnian seafaring began when staple duty, or control of goods, was lifted in the year 1765. This meant that Ostrobothnian towns and cities were freed from the monopoly of the Swedish crown over export and could trade directly with other countries. Powerful bourgeois families dominated the flavour of urban life here, affecting both fashion and politics. The rural population produced the tar and timber that were among the most common Ostrobothnian export products, and grand deep-sea vessels were built at the Ostrobothnian shipyards. Many of the large-scale farmers were also co-owners of one or more ships. But shipping was not a predictable branch. If a shipping company went bankrupt, it resulted in many people being turned out of their homes and becoming destitute. The collapse of shipping at the end of the 1800s was one of the reasons behind the dramatic wave of emigration from Ostrobothnia.

In the past, Ostrobothnia was an important hub of international shipping and seafaring, and it still is today. The possibility to export large quantities of goods was the driving force behind what later became the large metal, woodwork, textile, chemical and engineering industries of Ostrobothnia.

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The Network for Ostrobothnian Maritime History

The Leader-financed project Ostrobothnian Seafaring: Its role and significance is a project being carried out at KulturÖsterbotten, 2022-2023. The objective of the project is to establish a network between Ostrobothnian maritime museums and other parties working to increase awareness of Ostrobothnian maritime history.