A new park and the rededication of a stone commemorating the history of Finnish pioneers will be part of Webster's Corners Day this Saturday.
Webster's Corners Park has been built beside the elementary school of the same name at Dewdney Trunk Road and 256th Street. It is a neighbourhood park featuring new play equipment, benches, and fitness equipment.
Part of this weekend's opening ceremonies will be the rededication of the Sampo Stone, which has been relocated to the new park from the old Finnish hall next door.
Having the stone at the park will introduce area newcomers to the history and culture of the area, said Lynda Soderholm, who traded her Irish name Kelly when she got married to the son of Finnish immigrants.
"This used to be called Little Finland," Lynda said about Webster's Corners.
Her husband Mel Soderholm grew up in the rural Maple Ridge neighbourhood, in a house built by his father Uuno Soderholm. He and Lynda - who hails originally from Haney - still live in the Soderholm family home where they brought up their three kids.
The house, expanded from its original 900 square feet, still includes a traditional wood-burning sauna.
The Finnish community's activities centred around the services at 256th and Dewdney, which included a post office, and three stores including the Red & White Co-op.
In the early history of Webster's Corners, there were a lot of immigrants from Finland who only spoke Finnish, Mel said.
Raymond Savola, also the son of immigrants - whose original family name is the Finnish Savolainen - said a lot of the politics from early Finnish history - between the "reds," the Communists, and the "whites," the middle class - spilled over into the immigrant community.
When a Finnish socialist utopian society called Sointula - "the place of harmony" - on Malcolm Island fell apart, many of the Finns moved to Webster's Corners, some bringing their politics along.
Savola lived in the area as a youngster but his father moved them out to Surrey partly because of the politics, he said.
He eventually moved back to the area in 1968.
The old Finnish hall just west of the new park was built by volunteers and was the centre of activities in the area.
Mel's parents met at the hall, and it was the site of weekly dances.
During Second World War, the hall was closed as Finnish politcal groups met there.
The last party that was held there by the Finnish community was for a New Year's party in 2000.
The hall, which was a daycare for a long time, has been in private ownership since the 1980s.
Mel and Lynda both said it would be nice if it could be bought back and restored.
The stone was recently moved to the park.
"It's nice to have it in the park where it can be looked after," he said.
The stone to commemorate the Finnish pioneers was taken from Pitt Lake and carved by third-generation stone mason Max Ilomaki in 1985.
The stone reads "Sammon Takojat - Forgers of the Sampo."
The Sampo was a mythical Finnish machine that made grain, gold, and salt, immortalized in the Finnish epic Kalevala.
Webster's Corners' Park was part of the 2001 parks master plan and cost $244,000 to build, according to parks and leisure services' Bruce McLeod.
That included the demolition of the house on the site, construction of a playground for toddler-aged children, and installation of a toilet building, fitness circuit, and a drinking fountain.
The integration of the new park and the school next door offers activities for a variety of age groups from toddlers to adults, McLeod said.
At 1 p.m. there will be a ceremony to officially open the three-acre park and rededicate the Sampo stone.
Mel will talk about the history of the stone at the ceremony.
The family day will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with interactive displays, games for the kids, a historic display hosted by Maple Ridge Museum & Archives, and a hotdog stand.
The traditional pie-eating contest will begin around 1: 30 p.m. The event ends with the artisans raffle, which raises funds for the Maple Ridge Museum & Archives.
For more about Webster's Corners Day, call Mary Robson at 604-466-3333.