The Development of Our Environment in the Course of Years

The history of Kuusankoski and its surroundings is often combined with the history of paper industry. In the past Kuusankoski was well-known because of its two mills which produced paper and raw materials of paper. Even today Kuusankoski is known as a remarkable papermaker. Frequently only the achievements of the paper mills attract attention and the people and their contribution to papermaking is ignored. So now I intend to unite the industry of Kuusankoski and the people. The phases of papermaking are a part of the people's lives.

In the early 20th century paper industry offered work which lured people to move to Kuusankoski. Families rented building sites from the company and settled in so-called "factory-villages”. The workers formed a new social group: the working class. The company gave the workers wood for building houses and loaned money which was paid off from the wages. The paper mill also made it possible for its workers to use a common "baking room” until families could bake their bread in their own ovens.

worker's house, 1990s
A worker's house in the 1990s. The well-kept garden tells about more spare time when people can take up hobbies and interests.

When the World War broke out the paper mill had to reduce its production. That affected the workers' lives as well. In bad times smaller houses were built and more people lived in them. Lack of building material caused that people got the wood for the houses from oldhouses of wealthier families.

The 1920s brought a better life. At that time the basic population of Kuusankoski was formed. The workers were chosen among them and their children inherited the jobs. New inventions like the electric lamp became more common making life easier.

The 1930s brought signs of urbanization. Industry was strong and more products were bought in stores, though handicraft was still appreciated. Stone was used as new building material: the church and the town hall became centres of the community. Those buildings are still standing in their original form with some renovations.

1930s interior
The interior of this room is typical of the 1930s. Increasing affluence can be seen in the wallpaper and the furniture.

The manners of family life changed. As to food production people were self-sufficient until grocery stores came along and farms were turned into gardens. Everyday life changed from work-centred life to free-time and hobbies. Education became more common. The mill had its own trade schools into which girls were also admitted. The authority of the church lessened as time went by.

Everything began to develop, and both technology and industry became an important part of life. Though modern times have brought new views for building we mustn't forget the old days. Without those diligent workers we might not have such an advanced environment. The whole tremendous development originated from the times when things were simple but people were content with their achievements. It's great that we still have the possibility to study the history of our area on the basis of the existence of the paper mill.