Long before the canal there was a fairway at Strömma

The narrow Strömma strait is located between the island of Kemiönsaari and the mainland. Archipelago fishermen have used this waterway of old when trading with inland villages and towns. The narrows also became a crossing point for those travelling over land.

However, in order to avoid the restriction of water traffic, a bridge was not built over the narrows. For many years the strait was only crossed by barge, the first of which was already in operation by 1694. The first fixed bridge was built in 1812. However, it restricted the passage of larger ships. The fairway began to become crowded with ever larger vessels, the largest of which had to circumnavigate the entire island of Kemiönsaari in order to reach Halikonlahti Bay.

The Strömma Canal from a 19th century parish map. The new canal has not been built yet.

The canal was built during an economic boom

Upstream and north of Strömma lies the iron foundry at a place called Teijo. The foundry owner, Robert Bremer, wanted to export iron ore by water because it would have been difficult and laborious to transport the heavy ore over land. Therefore, in the 1820s he suggested that the river be both deepened and widened at Strömma. However, the local peasants did not support the project for fear of additional costs and the canal was not built.

However, the idea for the canal did not disappear. When the foundry owner’s son, Viktor Bremer, took over the business, he took a new approach to driving the canal project forwards. At that time, Finland was experiencing an economic boom, which laid the foundation for building a canal. Eventually, the Russian Emperor Nicholas I accepted the application and construction of the canal began. The canal was opened to traffic in the summer of 1845.

The canal was approximately ten metres wide, three meters deep and was crossed by a rolling bridge. This rolling- or traversing bridge, was a wheeled bridge structure that was pulled aside by a drive mechanism as the ship entered the canal and pushed back into place after it passed.

Drawing by Johan Knutson of the village of Strömsholm from the mid-19th century.

A new canal replaces the old one

By the late 19th century, it was noticed that the old canal was beginning to become shallow and constricted. It was expanded and improved by adding a new, cast-iron rolling bridge. The canal continued to experience busy use until Finnish independence in 1917, after which shipping traffic gradually declined due to the newly developing road traffic.

Despite the decrease in usage, it was planned to update the canal in the late 1950s. However, instead of repairing the old canal, it was decided to build a new one about half a kilometre away. Except for the shop, all of the buildings in the village of Strömma were demolished to make way for the new canal, whose construction began in 1967.

The new canal was 28 metres wide and 5.5 metres deep. A new electric-powered rolling leaf- or bascule bridge was built over the canal and a bridge operator's apartment was built on the bank. The road alignment was also changed at this time. The old canal was completely decommissioned in 1968 and pilotage had already ceased three years earlier, in 1965.

The new Strömma Canal.

Strömma Canal is a unique location

For centuries, the Strömma Canal served as an important junction point for both land and sea traffic. This location is unique in Finland as it is the only pilot station in the country which was built in connection with a canal.

The environment of the old canal has been well preserved. There is a pilot house built in the 1850s and a canal warden’s dwelling from 1897. There are a few buildings in the old village on the island between the old and the new canals. The Strömma Canal is said to be the only place in Finland where the tide can be observed.

Why and how is this location protected?

The Strömma Canal represents the early stages of canal construction. It has played a prominent role in the industrial and transport history of the coast. Apart from minor changes, the old channel environment has been well preserved. The Finnish Heritage Agency has defined the area as a nationally constructed cultural environment.

Read more about the Strömma Canal.


The site can be reached by car and along the new canal by private boat. The Road Administration is responsible for opening the bascule bridge.

Finnish Heritage Agency's Mapservice

N: 6679610, E: 271251 (ETRS-TM35FIN)